Sport has long played an important role in connecting people from different cultures and countries, creating shared experiences that build profound understanding and friendship. Recognizing the strength of sharing common values through sport, the University of Minnesota has created opportunities for students to interact with Chinese peers in sport since 1914.

Chinese Athletes on Campus

During the 1914 soccer season, the University’s team won the championship, due largely to the excellence of three Chinese players, also the first three Chinese students at the University: Pan Wen Ping, Pan Wen Huen, and Kwong Yih Kum. Pan Wen Ping was later elected captain of the University soccer team and Pan Wen Huen served as the captain of the University tennis and hockey teams.

In 1981, the Chinese national basketball team visited the University and played several games against the Gopher women’s basketball team. This demonstration of diplomacy through sports is yet another example of early camaraderie between the University and China.

Opportunities in China

The culture of sport is strong at Chinese universities and provides opportunities for cultural and academic exchange. In 1980 University study abroad students played basketball with their Chinese peers at Nankai University. More recently, the College of Education and Human Development’s 2013 study abroad course “Managing Mega Sport Events” took students to China to study how to manage large sporting events. They had the opportunity to tour incredible Beijing Olympic venues such as the Beijing National Stadium and the Olympic Green Tennis Center.

University and other U.S. experts in sports and athletics now have the opportunity to interact with a Chinese audience at the University’s American Cultural Center for Sport. The center was established in 2011 to bring culturally oriented instruction, exchanges, and engagement to Chinese people. It is a collaboration between the University of Minnesota’s China Center and School of Kinesiology, and Tianjin University of Sport. The center is funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of State and holds an office at Tianjin University of Sport.

Pan Wen Ping, captain of the 1915 soccer team

Pan Wen Ping was elected captain during the 1915 soccer season.

Chinese basketball team in Minnesota

China’s national basketball team memberChen Yuefang, who stood 6 feet 8 inches tall,shot over Minnesota’s Cindy Kuhlman. China’steam won six straight games against theMinnesota team.

U of M students play basketball at Nankai University in 1980

University students played basketball withstudents at Nankai University in 1980.