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February 6, 2008 in The China Beat


Copyright February 6, 2008. Used by permission.


A colleague here at the Beijing Sport University whom I have known for over ten years, Yi Jiandong (易剑东), is one of the two most vocal media commentators on Chinese sports in the academic world (along with Lu Yuanzhen 卢元镇). He has reached an exalted status that an American professor like myself can only marvel at from afar. He is one of the “Big-Name Bloggers”(名人博客) on the Qzone blogsite, where he shares space with the likes of Feng Shuyong, head coach of the national track and field team (whose main purpose seems to be to report on Liu Xiang, 2004 gold medalist, 2007 world champion, and world record-holder in the 110m hurdles) and Lin Dan(two-time world champion in badminton, who writes his own blog).

Professor Yi also gets paid good money to blog, something that cannot be said of myself. Among his 80+ posts since August 2007, the one that has gotten the most hits was on the topic, “An explanation for why ‘Japanese Don’t Show Respect for Liu Xiang,’”, which elicited 1,594 comments and 224,447 hits. Not only can a lowly American professor not aspire to his kinds of numbers and financial remuneration, I can’t even expect that sports fans care about what I have to say. I take this as an illustration of the greater respect for university professors in Chinese popular culture generally and – in contrast to the U.S. – in the sports world in particular.

I thought it might be interesting to The China Beat readers to know what my Chinese counterpart is blogging about, so I selected one of his blogs from September 22, which at 55,902 hits and 321 comments was also one of his more popular posts. Since non-Chinese probably aren’t that interested in whether Japanese respect Liu Xiang (do non-Chinese even know who Liu Xiang is?), I have selected a post about the NBA star Yao Ming – who, based on my superficial impression, seems to take a backseat to Liu Xiang in China at the moment. After all, Yao Ming has never won a world championship and probably will not win an Olympic gold medal. In keeping with a theme of The China Beat, Yi uses Yao Ming to launch into a criticism of the poor treatment of sport journalists in China, explaining that this is due to the fact that sports are less market-oriented here. Foreign journalists, take note – you are not the only ones who get high-handed treatment.