Pac-12 China Game delegation visits Shanghai Disneyland
SHANGHAI – An idea hatched by Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott and Disney CEO Bob Iger came to fruition halfway around the world on Thursday as the Stanford and Harvard men’s basketball programs enjoyed a day at the newest “The Happiest Place on Earth” – Shanghai Disney Resort.
Upon arriving at the five-month-old park, both teams were greeted by and lunched with children from the Yao Ming Foundation: the philanthropic organization of the former NBA star who has lent his support to the Pac-12 China Game played in his hometown of Shanghai.
Murray King, the resort’s Vice President of Public Affairs, described the story of the park’s creation and the vision to combine the best of Disney with the best of Chinese culture and tradition into an experience that is “Authentically Disney, Distinctly Chinese.”
After lunch with Stanford and Harvard student-athletes, Yao Foundation kids joined them inside Disneyland Park for a meet-and-greet with Mickey and Minnie and a march in the Disney parade. Yao Foundation youth will also have the chance to attend Saturday’s game at the Mercedes-Benz Arena to see their new American friends display their basketball skills.
It was at a media press conference on the resort that Commissioner Scott, joined by FUSC Vice President and Secretary-General Yang Liguo and AliSports CEO Zhang Dazhong, thanked those partners for their continued collaboration and announced that a portion of Pac-12 China Game ticket sales will be donated to the Yao Foundation, “to support his great efforts on behalf of children throughout China.”
“We’ve been very inspired by Yao’s status as a role model in China and his vision to bring opportunity to children and awareness to causes to improve society here in China,” said Scott. “It’s very consistent with the values of our universities, which are about training the world’s best leaders.”
“We truly believe it is activities like these and peaceful and friendly exchanges between our two countries through sport that will do a lot to build a better world,” said Scott.
Both head coaches and two student-athletes also addressed the media to promote Saturday’s game, which will be broadcast across China by partners FUSC and AliSports as well as to an ESPN2 audience in the United States.
“With our basketball team, we have a mission of developing exceptional people who play great basketball and this week has been a tremendous opportunity to develop our scholar-athletes and give them an opportunity to see Disney and spend time at Alibaba’s campus. Our interaction with Chinese culture has been phenomenal,” said Stanford head coach Jerod Haase.
“We’re excited for the game as well,” added Haase. “Most U.S. teams start the first weekend of the regular season at home with a lesser opponent. Needless to say we’re not exactly going that route. It’s not a home game and our level of respect for Harvard is off the charts. Their coaching staff, their players, their entire program has been fantastic and we understand it’s going to be a battle.”
That deference was highlighted even more by Stanford junior Reid Travis and Harvard senior Siyani Chambers - a question that could have turned into bulletin board fodder turned into a story of respect and friendship.
Asked whether they’d like to comment on the upcoming game to “show off their strength in front of the media,” Travis quickly deflected the question toward Chambers - “you can take that one.”
It turns out, though, Reid’s older brother Jonah was a teammate of Chambers’ at Harvard and Saturday’s two rivals are actually quite cordial. “I’ve known Reid for a number of years, it’s good to see him. I don’t have any ill will toward him or his team. Good friends.”
At least between all associated with the 2016 Pac-12 China Game on this particular Thursday, Shanghai Disney truly was the happiest place on earth.
About Pac-12 Global:
Founded in 2011, Pac-12 Global is an unprecedented effort to proactively promote the Conference and its member institutions globally through student-athlete exchanges and sport. The Initiative uses the shared passion of athletics to support the ambitious international strategies that many of our universities have embarked on to extend their reach around the world. For more information on the initiative and its history, go to www.pac-12.com/global.