Dr. Joon-Seo Andrew Choi is an Associate Professor in the Department of Sport Industry & Management at Hanyang University in Seoul, Korea. But what he and his students saw this week is nothing like what they are used to back home.
As part of the school's Global Sports Immersion program, Choi took 10 of his students across the globe to learn about the enormity that is the sports culture in the United States. Part of the tour includes a visit to a college campus, and Choi took his group to Cal earlier this week to check out the Simpson Center and renovated California Memorial Stadium, and was given a presentation about Cal Athletics by Director of Olympic Sports Operations Aaron Schulman.
"It's unreal," said Choi, who spent seven years as an assistant professor at the University of San Francisco before moving back to Asia earlier this year. "Just the fact that college athletics could devote this much time, effort and money into sports - that's probably the biggest takeaway from my Korean students. We don't have anything similar to this. Our universities have fairly similar number of teams and athletes, but your devotion to sports and academics is unparalleled."
The Korean group spent a week in California, visiting pro and college teams as well as other organizations involved with sports business. Choi taught the same program while at USF, and Schulman is one of his former students. When Choi was at USF, he took students to Korea for a similar mission, and Schulman made the trip earlier this year.
"It was an honor and a privilege because my trip to Korea was such an influential and impactful experience for me," Schulman said. "Without question, I wanted to make it as impactful for them as my experience was."
Schulman met the group outside Memorial Stadium and took them on to the field for pictures. The group then received a tour of the different wings of the Simpson Center before winding up in the Kronk Meeting Room for a presentation that included videos about Cal Athletics and its Olympic success.
"There may be some opportunities for us to do a renovation project on campus, so this is a great benchmark," Choi said. "The whole sports industry is becoming more and more global, so I think it's a benefit for both parties - our students and an organization like Cal Athletics - to just lower the fences and borders and become a smaller community."
Schulman also spent extensive time outlining the Olympic Sports internship program, and Choi said some of his students may be interested in coming to California for such a position.
"One of the things we're trying to do here at Cal is be a world-class brand," Schulman said. "What better way to increase our notoriety as a world-class brand than to have students seek us out from across an ocean to come and see how we do things at Cal, to see our facilities and to be able to ask us questions. Nothing speaks more about our world-class brand."
Images of the group's Cal visit are below.