Source: China State Council Information Office
Major League Baseball staged a series of baseball-themed activities at the 2020 Boao Culture and Creativity Week, organized by the Hainan Provincial Department of Tourism, Culture, Radio, Television and Sports and the Institute for Culture Creativity of Tsinghua University in Boao, Hainan province.
The activities included the MLB First Pitch baseball class, which featured Qionghai of Hainan for the first time. The Hainan branch of Beijing Haidian Foreign Language Experiment School hosted the first class.
New experience: MLB Beach Baseball Park gains popularity
MLB, along with brands like Palace Museum, Dell, China Mobile Migu and Royole, presented new cultural experiences for visitors to the 2020 Boao Culture and Creativity Week.
A carnival, entitled “Creating the MLB Beach Baseball Park”, ignited visitors’ passion for the sport. As a highlight of Boao Culture and Creativity Week, the park featured a “Throw, Hit and Catch” game, MLB stadium food and baseball fashion photo shoots.
The three-day event entertained tourists as well as locals, and also attracted many parents, who took their children to enjoy the activities and get expert tips and tuition from professional coaches from MLB Development Center.
Many parents acknowledged that playing baseball can benefit the growth of their kids, helping build their physical strength and personality. Also, given the lack of facilities and grassroots baseball culture, parents also expressed hope that MLB can bring systematic baseball training to local kids in the future, so they can be properly trained and follow their baseball dreams.
An augmented reality baseball experience also proved a big hit with guests and provided yet another example of MLB’s innovative efforts to combine sports with digital technology.
A new era in baseball education: MLB First Pitch class kick-starts talent plan in Hainan
MLB signed a memo of understanding and cooperation with Haidian Foreign Language Academy and Boao Culture and Creativity Institute on Nov 15 during Boao Culture and Creativity Week. Both parties are planning detailed discussions and creative cooperation concerning the Chinese baseball talent development program.
On Nov 16, the first MLB First Pitch class began at the Hainan branch of Beijing Haidian Foreign Language Experiment School. Coaches from MLB Development Center conducted basic baseball training sessions and taught a baseball knowledge class to the school kids.
The aim of the MLB First Pitch class is to facilitate China’s baseball education and to allow more Chinese teenagers to have professional baseball training. It will also help baseball enter the school sports education system in China and expand the Chinese baseball population.
With the support of Boao Culture and Creativity Institute, MLB baseball classes will enter more schools in Hainan. In the future, both parties will work together to bring more quality baseball events here, which boost baseball’s popularity in Hainan, facilitate the development of better local talent development systems and build a stronger baseball industry ecosystem.
In terms of Hainan’s baseball development, Tony Qi, managing director of MLB China, believes the establishment of Hainan Free Trade Port has given great support to the sports industry. Hainan has issued a five-year plan to develop a national sports tourism pilot zone this year. The province plans to achieve the goal through 10 measures, including building facilities and staging sports events. Hainan’s climate is also favorable for baseball development. Through introducing more baseball training programs and sports events, Hainan can nurture a new model of combining tourism and baseball. Meanwhile, Hainan is trying to introduce baseball into its school sports system, which will further increase the baseball population in the province.
New path: MLB’s digital strategy facilitates integrative development of sports industry
During Boao Culture and Creativity Week, MLB also shared its thoughts and experiences on the development of the sports industry in the digital age.
Tony Qi, managing director of MLB China delivered a speech themed “Special 2020 – building a new ecosystem for the sports industry” at an industry forum on Nov 15, introducing MLB’s innovative application of digital technology on match organization, branding and cultural promotion.
MLB has been leading the global trend of leveling up the league’s quality via digital technology.
“Technologies like artificial intelligence, big data and virtual reality are everywhere at MLB’s stadiums and training fields. That helped MLB to keep leveling up its business value,” said Qi.
Off the field of play, digital technologies offer wider applications. Qi said that, during the COVID-19 pandemic, digital technologies are increasingly significant in the sports industry. MLB China has always tried to think beyond sports and focus on digital marketing. MLB has created engaging content and launched various activities on social media to show people Chinese baseball stories, thereby creating more interactions and brand exposure even when the season was temporarily shut down due to the pandemic.
During the forum, Qi also detailed MLB’s efforts to boost baseball development in China. MLB has established three development centers in Wuxi, Changzhou and Nanjing, providing professional baseball training for the country’s baseball-loving kids. In addition, MLB First Pitch attracted more kids to baseball through training classes and youth leagues across 10 cities in China.
Since the start of MLB’s teenage baseball development program in 2007, about 1.3 million students have had baseball classes in China.
Now, Hainan is trying to start a new education model of combining sports and education. The province is positioning itself to become a national sports training base and sports center. MLB has brought baseball to Hainan, allowing more people to feel the charm of the sport, which will benefit the local baseball culture and boost the sport’s development in the province.