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People's Daily Online>>China Business

In the Slow Lane

By Geng Wenxin (Global Times)

08:21, April 19, 2012

Amid the recent hype over basketball player Jeremy Lin, there has been a lot of discussion over his soaring commercial value.

According to US media reports, Lin is now worth $14 million, the same as NBA legend Kobe Bryant and the sixth highest in the world. His outstanding performance on the basketball court has also contributed to a $139 million rise in the market value of Madison Square Garden Inc thanks to its connections with Lin's team, the New York Knicks.

However, Lin's meteoric rise has also prompted uncomfortable questions about China's sports industry. Given that China is an increasingly powerful sports nation that has won many gold medals in international events, how come there are so few homegrown sports stars with a status that can compare with the international elite?

Business of dreams

Guo Lian is a 22-year-old university student majoring in marketing and a big fan of Jeremy Lin.

"The sports industry is not just about keeping fit. It's the business of dreams and passion. That's why Lin is so popular now," said Guo.

"There is a lot of discussion about the commercial side of sports in China and some people still are against it. But without the commercial side, the influence of sports cannot spread so widely. Commercial tours and ads help build the dreams of fans, as well as making money," Guo noted.

One example of a Chinese sport that needs to develop its commercial side is the CBA (Chinese Basketball Association), Guo said.

"I am extremely happy that the Beijing Jinyu team became the new CBA champion last month. And there must be a lot of stories behind their victory. But not many people know the stories," said Guo.

"The biggest difference between domestic leagues and the US leagues is stars," said Zhao Yanhui, manager of a Jeremy Lin fan club in Beijing.

"US leagues like to create stars but domestic leagues always attribute success to excellent management. Personal roles and successes are not emphasized. But the sports industry can't be hot without stars, and 'Linsanity' is an example. Without stars, people do not care so much," Zhao told the Global Times.

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