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Fox School undergraduate to serve as Mandarin-language broadcaster for Temple basketball games

Photo of James Yuan
Fox School student James Yuan calls his first game as the Mandarin-language broadcaster of Temple men’s basketball.

There was cheering, in both Mandarin and English, as Fox School of Business freshman James Yuan won the right to serve as Mandarin-language broadcaster of Temple University men’s basketball games.

Temple University’s Office of International Affairs organized the inaugural “Battle of the Broadcasters,” held Jan. 31 at Morgan Hall. The competition pitted five Chinese international students to determine the most-engaging and accurate live commentary of the Owls’ game against South Florida. Yuan and Javi Yuan, a recent graduate of the School of Media and Communication, shared first place, and will broadcast the team’s remaining home games on YouKu, the Chinese version of YouTube, and Temple’s Owlsports.com.

“I was very nervous, but mostly excited to be up there,” Yuan said.

Yuan first discovered basketball when he moved to the United States for his education. Crisscrossing the country, to attend school in both California and Connecticut, Yuan took his love of basketball with him. He’d learned the game living with an American high school basketball coach, and went on to play varsity basketball in high school as the only Chinese player in the league.

Upon deciding to stay in the states and attend Temple’s Fox School of Business, Yuan honed his announcing skills by emceeing events for the Chinese Student Scholars Association. When the broadcasting competition had been announced, Yuan found the perfect place to merge his skills in charming the crowd and talking sports.

As he took the podium to begin his live audition, Yuan broke the ice by chatting casually with the Temple Diamond Gems dance team and Temple cheerleaders. Then, he turned his eyes toward the game, seamlessly launching into the stats of particular players and precisely following the gameplay. He interspersed his play-byplay calls with colorful commentary meant to recreate the courtside atmosphere for those watching from home.

Photo of James Yuan
Fox School student James Yuan competes at the Battle of the Broadcasters, held Jan. 31.

“I wanted the students to feel like they were inside the game. It’s not all about the stats,” said Yuan, a Human Resource Management major, who said his goal in participating is “to get more international students involved.”

School of Tourism and Hospitality Management (STHM) exchange student Shizhe You also took part in the competition. You joined STHM in Fall 2015 from Beijing, China. He is presently pursuing coursework at STHM to complement his education at the Central University of Finance and Economics, in Beijing, where he studied Sports Economics and Management.

From a young age, You showed promise on the soccer field and it wasn’t until a growth spurt shot him to nearly six feet tall that he had considered basketball. Finding success, You considered a professional career until an injury sidelined him. While in a wheelchair for three months, You turned his attention to sports marketing and economics, specifically how to gain recognition for sports management in China.

When he received an email about the Mandarin broadcasting competition, You jumped at the opportunity despite having zero experience in live-broadcasting of sporting events.

“It was great experience,” You said. “It was a way to share basketball with China.”

Five Mandarin-speaking Temple faculty and staff members served as judges, including STHM Professor of Tourism and Hospitality Management Dr. Robert Li.

“I was truly impressed by all the contestants, particularly the winners, for their excellent presentation skills, great energy, and good sense of humor,” Li said. “This event … shows Temple’s unwavering commitment to internationalization and a vibrant campus life.”

Photo of James Yuan, Javi Yuan and the Temple cheerleaders.
Fox School student James Yuan and School of Media and Communication’s Javi Yuan celebrate as first-place finishers in the Battle of the Broadcasters

You placed third overall, ahead of Metsky Liu, TUSP ’17, and Echo Chen, COE ’16, who placed fourth and fifth, respectively. The runners-up received free tickets to one of Temple’s upcoming home games, while winners Yuan and Javi Yuan, SMC ’15, in addition to their press passes to report on the remaining home games, received signed basketballs from Temple men’s basketball coach Fran Dunphy.

The competition was the collaborative initiative of Temple President Dr. Neil Theobold, Temple University Athletics, and the Office of International Affairs. Vice Dean of International Students Brooke Walker deemed the competition a bridge between Temple’s Chinese and American cultures.

“Temple wants to integrate international students into our community,” Walker said. “What better way to do this then to engage Chinese students in American sports while respecting their own culture, the Mandarin language, and their love of basketball.”