College sports in general and athletics in particular is an important element of an educational process. College and university students from all over the world take part in various sports competitions as representatives of their educational establishments. However, the topic of college athletics is full of contradictions related to finding a balance between doing sports and studying at college, as well as considering young people to be financial investments more than students.
Historic and Social Factors, which shaped college athletics in China and the USA
In order to compare college athletics in China and the USA, it is important to understand their differences shaped by certain historic and social factors. Thus, the major reason of the differences, which exist between these two countries in terms of the discussed issue, is the history of the college sports development in general. When the rules of American football were standardized in the 1870s, it became extremely popular among the American students (Jim). "By the 1910s, most large American universities had a college football team, and games were drawing as many as 80,000 spectators in some markets." (Jim). To compare, the Chinese leaders offered "universities and college sport should be responsible for nurturing top athletes in China" only in 1980 (Zhen 4). Though sport in college was promoted in China by creating student sports teams, the importance of it was recognized late in the USA (Zhen).
One more important difference between Chinese and American college sports is the attitude to the activity from the side of the educational establishments. Sport in Chinese colleges has passed a complicated way of development and faced many challenges, namely lack of sportsmen, inability of sportsmen to continue their career in athletics after graduations, insufficient qualification of coaches, and many others (Zhen). In order to solve all these issues China started a college sport reform in the 1980s, which was aimed at attempting to enroll and educate the best college sportsmen (Zhen). This motto provoked a vast discussion about how to balance sport trainings and usual classes for college sportsmen, as well as about how to wisely manage university and college teams and which principle should be followed in enrolling sportsmen. The current issues exist to some extent till today (Zhen). In contrast, the American point of view on college sports is more focused not on solving the issues, enumerated for the Chinese, which are also partially present for the American college athletics, but on earning as much money as possible on the college athletes (Jim). The research, performed by Jorner, McLeod and Ternes, which was based on interviewing some college athletes, demonstrated that "The student-athlete is not an enterprise-of-the-self after all, despite the NCAA [National College Athletic Association], academic, and popular discourse that has obfuscated this fact." (207). The authors are sure that those conditions and financial investments, which are aimed at the college athletes' training, should remain in limits of the educational establishment. NCAA is not completely correct, stating that the experience the athletes receive in college will help them easier occupy any working position even not related to sports (Jorner, McLeod and Ternes). As a result, financing of the NCAA is encouraged by the students, who are not sportsmen and the American colleges gain great sums of profit.
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Financial Benefits Received by American Colleges
The discussed material factor, existing for the American college sports and athletics systems, which are mostly represented by football and basketball, results in one more important issue of the educational and moral values, becoming less significant than the material profits. It was mentioned above that China devotes special attention to college sports events in the state. However, the USA is the only country, which names college athletics to be one of the missions of an educational establishment (Schoenfeldt). Considering such fact, Schoenfeldt writes that the American Universities were told to shorten some of their academic programs and a number of professors correspondingly. On the other hand, the salary of the American football coaches is constantly growing. College athletics has become a part of life and everybody should participate in it. This statement and the material base of the entire process resulted in a criminal case at Plenno State University, where one of the retired football trainers was molesting young boys (Schoenfeldt). The worst thing in the given situation is that "those at the highest level of the university knew about the molestation for many years before charges were brought and chose not to report the crimes." (Schoenfeldt). The main problem is that the administration of the University preferred concealing the information in order not to distort college athletics business, which brought millions of revenues to the educational establishment (Schoenfeldt). The ideas of Schoenfeldt are supported by Parler, who writes that "some student-athletes create enormous amounts of income for universities while being undercompensated for the value of their labor." Moreover, he also offers to pay special attention to the organization of sports activities in the American colleges.
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Main Aims of College Athletics in China
Comparing the described situation with the college sports system in China, it is important to state that the financial incentives or benefits paid to or received from the college sportsmen is not a central issue for the country. There is no doubt that China college athletics took much from the American system in terms of popularization (Zhen). However, the main goals of China college sports have nothing in common with gaining money. On the contrary, in different historic periods it supported the following principles: strengthening the race and the country, popularizing sport and serving political aims and, finally, in the current period, training student athletes for participating in national and international competitions (Zhen). It is not reasonable to idealize the values of the college sports in China and state that the American college sports are a failure. Nevertheless, it is possible to conclude that some historic, political, and economic factors resulted in the described differences.
Ways to Solve the Issues Related to College Athletics Systems in China and the USA
In order not to repeat the mistakes of the past, China and the USA should make some additional steps. Thus, the USA should find a balance between having successful and promising college athletes with a deep knowledge of certain disciplines and earning money on them. College sportsmen should have all conditions to represent their educational establishment and then choose their future road (Jorner, McLeod and Ternes). Considering the situation in China, Shao and Ji state that the most problematic issue existing for college sports in the country at present is the integration of the sports activities into the educational process, which should be combined. Shao and Ji offer to implement "a standard college sports organization, unified admission standards, strengthening school management, strict eligibility, standardization of the achievement standards" and many other parameters to coordinate the competitive spirit of the Chinese sports with brining up educated promising athletes.
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Conclusion and Recommendations
To conclude, it is worth confirming that both the USA and China college athletics systems have passed a number of serious transformations and reforms and reached the highest level. The most important thing is the vision of both states of their college athletes as perspective sportsmen, who have a potential to become real professionals or just show their abilities during college tournaments. Hopefully, the USA will take a course at distinguishing between a desire to receive as many financial benefits as possible and train new talented sportsmen in the limits of the educational establishment, while China will find a way to balance the educational process, college athletics trainings, and satisfy the competitive spirit of the nation with the best athletes.