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How have China’s attitudes toward youth sports changed?

In the past, traditional ideas about the value of academic education meant that scholarly pursuits were prized for young people. Since China has a very challenging university entrance exam, teens have typically spent a great deal of their time studying for it. As part of the country’s onerous rote learning, children and teens have also had large homework burdens.

Parents tend to strongly promote school achievement as it’s a major mode for improving the family’s fortunes and the main way to climb the social ladder. This also led, in the same way as in other Asian nations like Japan and Korea, to a huge industry for extracurricular tutoring centres for students to help them improve their knowledge and performance in school subjects. As a result, there wasn’t much time for sports, and they were even shunned at times as a distraction from important study time.

Sports were even shunned at times as a distraction from important study time.

But some major shifts have taken place in the last few years and attitudes toward sports, especially for children and teens, have changed dramatically. How and why has this happened? Let’s take a closer look and find out what it means for marketers.

Policy shifts related to education and homework

China’s Ministry of Education implemented its Double Reduction Policy in late August 2021. The aim of the policy was to reduce the burden placed on students by large amounts of homework and after-school tutoring.

Specific limits were placed on written homework for different grade levels, and school-based extracurricular activities were to be provided to keep students busy until their parents got home from work under government supervision. Private tutoring centres, both online and offline, were strictly curtailed. Centres were no longer allowed to teach school subjects or open on weekends and school holidays. They were also only allowed to use non-profit business models and large tutoring companies were not allowed to have IPOs. Excessive exams were also banned.

With these changes, China has seen a major shift in attitudes toward sports, especially toward young people involved in active activities.


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