About mrgrantlee

Grant Lee, second year full-time MBA student in Robert H. Smith School of Business at University of Maryland. He is passionate about sports, marketing, and entrepreneurship.

葛蘭特李 的籃球日誌 #11 美國素人籃球你我他

葛蘭特李的籃球日誌從第一篇到今天為止,已經有十篇文章,題材涵蓋範圍從美國的NBA、NCAA、FIBA世界籃球,到台灣籃球的籃球及人物介紹,題材範圍不可謂不廣。但今天我突然想到,還有一個題材我沒寫過,這題材,我每個禮拜都有深刻的體悟,深刻的情緒及身體上的體悟,這題材,是素人籃球。

為什麼素人籃球會讓我的情緒跟身體有深刻的體悟呢?因為筆者本人挺好勝,雖然年近30,打起球來常常都還是三小時以上起跳,身體會酸會痛,情緒也會因為輸贏而跟著起伏。(筆者按:雖然打球不是呼風喚雨的神人等級,但打籃球,套句灌籃高手豐玉籃球隊王牌殺手南烈的話:勝利比任何事情都有趣100倍!愛拼才會贏!)

扯遠了,這篇就來分享給大家,葛蘭特在美國所見識、體驗過的素人籃球。

在美國讀MBA的兩年期間,我最常出沒的球場是馬里蘭大學的Recreation Center室內體育館。馬里蘭是州立大學,學校有超過三萬七千名學生,是附近佔地最大、學生數量最多的學校。學校的體育設施良好完善,學生只要出示學生證即可使用,校外人士可以付款進入。體育館的設施有多好呢?舉個例子,破奧運記錄勇奪單屆最多金牌的美國泳將Michael Phelps就曾在Recreation Center訓練。

因為設備完善,吸引各路英雄好漢,體育館不時會出現一些YouTube等級的厲害人物。賽制方面,跟台灣打三打三不同的是,這邊都是打全場五打五跟半場的四打四,美國通稱為pick up game。報隊的方式是,跟場邊的人詢問有無隊伍,若有球隊缺人,即可報隊加入,若無,則自己找人湊滿報隊。一場比賽打13分,一球算一分。最先開始的第一場會打16分。大多時間是贏兩分結束比賽,有時候也有贏一分的。因為一場比賽要得比較多分,不會出現像台灣,連進六球結束比賽的情形發生。

這邊的球風跟台灣的球風截然不同。一般來說,這邊打的比較硬朗,球員不畏懼肢體碰撞,若無過於誇張的身體接觸,不會輕易喊犯規。這跟在台灣街頭習慣打球金身加持的朋友,或是喜歡喊摸手毛犯規的人,在這邊,可能會收到很多白眼的看待。這邊的人普遍也很有運動家精神,比賽完後,無論輸贏,都會跟對手握手致意,並說『good game。』

進攻方面,整體來說,跟台灣籃球強調團隊,喜歡導傳,傳導三次以上,直到導出空檔再出手的球風不同。這邊流行自己單打硬上,很多時候傳一兩次就出手。上了場,若是只管把球傳給隊友,接下來就別指望球會回傳,只有淪為折返跑的份。防守端,這邊是守人盯人,沒有區域聯防。讓我印象深刻的是,有次守到一個六呎六吋210磅(198公分100公斤)的白人大個,他隊友高調傳球吊球給他,他直接在我面前拔起,給我顏面灌籃。

來體育館打球的有三種族群,美國黑人、白人,及黃種人,這三種族群,剛好可分成三種不同的球技等級。黑人的球技最強,身材條件最佳,臂展長、體能爆發力好,速度快,單打能力出類拔萃,但也最愛講垃圾話。他們灌籃很稀鬆平常,我曾看過半場Alley Oop,轉個頭,目睹球從一端傳到另一端,眨個眼,球就被塞進籃框,當場下巴都快掉下來,感覺像在看電視。白人球技居次,普遍身體壯碩,球風以射手居多。黃種人最少,體能、體型,及球技,最為一般。年齡方面,因為是學校,學生或是二十多歲的人佔多數,週末會有較多年紀大一些的出現。值得注意的是,我跟這麼多不同的球員交手過,鮮少遇到籃下腳步好的球員,很多大個子,六呎四(192公分)或以上,喜歡在外線投籃,或是一條龍從三分線外運球硬上,就連一看就知道標準四五號位置的內線球員,也喜歡在外線投射。我猜,這跟美國整體流行全能球員的走向有關,地方素人籃球,向來可以當成一個整體球風的縮影,低位單打,是逐漸在凋零的藝術。

裝備方面,這邊很多人喜歡穿有袖子的t-shirt,即使是無袖,也是純棉的材質。台灣流行穿無袖,可雙面穿的球衣,這邊完全看不到。籃球鞋,以高桶球鞋為主,Nike為大宗,再來是Adidas,有時可看到一些*Under Armour的球鞋。有一點我特別要提的是,這邊流行穿中桶襪,就是NBA球員穿的那種襪子,這跟台灣素人球員,喜歡穿踝襪或低桶襪截然不同。

從2012年到現在,我常常在體育館出沒,也認識了一些球友,以球會友,用球技交流,是非常開心的一件事,尤其遇到技術厲害或是有團隊觀念的隊友,空檔出來,人到球到,打起來格外爽快。我特別喜歡打五打五全場比賽,對我而言,在長28寬15公尺的球場中,從一端的球框到另一端的球框,球員所表現出的技術、觀念、態度,跟空間感,那才是真正的籃球。跟不認識的人分到一隊,無論種族膚色,大家一起拼鬥求勝,共同為一個目標努力,是非常有趣的一件事。

這篇先介紹到這邊,以後再從不同的角度來分享美國的素人籃球見聞給大家。

註:Under Armour是馬里蘭大學的美式足球校隊校友,同時也是學校最有影響力的校友之一的Kevin Plank所創辦。Under Armour的全球總部設在馬里蘭的巴爾帝摩(Baltimore),離馬里蘭大學三十分鐘車程之遙。UA也是馬里蘭美式足球隊的簽約贊助商,合約到2024年。校內很常見到學生穿著UA的各式產品。

我跟Joe,兩個台灣左撇子球員的合影。

我跟Joe,兩個台灣左撇子球員在體育館內的合影。

葛蘭特李 的籃球日誌 #10 菲律賓能,台灣能不能?

2004年,韓國從亞洲金融風暴崛起,民間興起一股,『韓國能,為何台灣不能?』的討論。2014年,十年後的今天,韓流K-POP行銷全球、三星手機力拼蘋果I-Phone,就連低端產品定位的KIA汽車,也在美國隨處可見。此時,應該不會有人再辯台灣為何不能這個議題。

今年FIBA世界盃籃球賽,是菲律賓於38年後,首次出賽。靠著NBA歸化球員Andray Blatche。在小組預賽跟世界強權阿根廷、希臘、波多黎各、克羅埃西亞等打的難分難解;甚至,以3分之差擊敗了26屆非洲冠軍塞內加爾。國人看到菲律賓在歸化一名NBA當打球員後,瞬間從亞洲等級,進化成能跟世界級列強一搏的實力,也開啟一股,『菲律賓能,為何台灣不能?』的討論。

在討論台灣能不能之前,我們先釐清一個問題,何謂”歸化球員?”歸化球員”,簡單來說,就是”外籍傭兵”。FIBA國際籃總規定,歸化球員需持有被規劃國家的國籍,且被歸化的球員在16歲之後拿到國籍者,只能代表一個國家或地區參加正式比賽。

自從FIBA開放歸化球員參與國際比賽後,對世界籃球的實力版圖造成重大衝擊。但有鑑於國情,各國對於歸化球員的接受度不一,像FIBA世界排名第三的阿根廷就沒有歸化球員,而世界排名第二的西班牙,歸化剛果共和國的Serge Ibaka。扣除傳統強權,其他隊如烏克蘭,也靠著歸化美籍後衛Eugene Jeter,憑藉其於去年歐錦賽的優異表現,帶領烏克蘭於隊史首度闖進世錦賽。歸化球員的影響力,可見一般。

回到主題,這麼多國家在歸化,為什麼,我們無獨有偶的要參考菲律賓的案例呢?

首先,身為亞洲球隊,菲律賓跟台灣有諸多相似之處,兩個球隊的球員身材同樣矮小,菲律賓此次參賽的球員中,本土球員僅有兩名身高超過200公分,有六名球員不到190公分,身材為參賽28之球隊中最矮小的。再來,兩隊的主力球員,皆以一至三號的鋒位為主,這些球員的共同特點是體能不如歐美球員,但基本動作熟練、速度快,外線投射能力強等。此外,兩隊的進攻均靠著大量的切傳與導傳來找出最佳空檔,並靠著快攻反擊來獲得分數。而兩隊同樣存在缺乏一名強而有力的四、五號內線球員,能夠在提供穩定的籃下取分,拼搶籃板,並提供給隊友更多二次出手的機會。

整合以上的資訊,菲律賓選擇歸化Andray Blatche,六呎11吋210公分,28歲正值當打之年,2013-2014球季效力於NBA Brooklyn Nets的中前鋒。Blatche的特點是能裡能外、球風靈活,不用大量持球就能夠替球隊建功。今年世錦賽預賽五場,Blatche平均得分22分得分榜前五,13籃板獨佔鰲頭,對菲律賓的戰力,影響巨大。

菲律賓能有效個使用歸化球員Blatche,我們台灣,到底能不能呢?

第一個要考量的因素,就是錢。傭兵就是靠替所規劃的國家打球來賺錢。據傳聞,光這兩個月的訓練跟正式出賽比賽,Blatche就收到不低於一百萬美金的酬勞。雖然菲律賓的國民所得低*註1,但全國對籃球的狂熱,Blatche說的最傳神: “It’s like everybody in the Philippines — they breathe, sleep, and eat basketball. 『好像每個在菲律賓的人,他們呼吸籃球、打籃球到睡著,甚至瘋狂到吃籃球的地步。』籃球是菲律賓的國球,大眾對籃球無比熱情,他們願意也肯砸大錢來投資在自己的籃球隊上。而光是這點,我們就望塵莫及。拿台灣第一個歸化的美籍球員Quincy Davis為例,六呎八吋203公分,31歲主打內線。不含獎金,他一年替台灣出賽所領的薪水是24萬美金,還比不上Blatche打工兩個月的四分之一,沒有錢,NBA等級的球員怎麼會甘願冒著受傷的風險來替一個全然陌生的亞洲國家打球呢?

第二個考量,則是球風。在歸化Blatche之前,菲律賓一直都是靠歸化球員Marcus Douthit打籃下,Douthit六呎11吋,曾短暫替NBA Los Angeles lakers效力,球風走陰柔路線,低位動作扎實,中距離準確。Blatche跟Douthit打法相似,不同的是,Blatche更年輕,活動力更好,射程更遠、能力更強大。而我們的Q(Davis綽號),在國際賽的表現非常好,常常能靠著超高的命中率獲得雙十的成績,若想升級,只能從比他更高的內線球員來著手。值得思考的一點是,雖然Q非籃球一級名校出身,也沒有打過任何一場NBA球賽,但他扎實藍領不貪攻的球風,跟中華隊就是特別的對味。

第三個考量,配合度。菲律賓總教練Chot Reyes在歸化Blatche前,曾擔心過球員相處跟配合的問題,Blatche堂堂一介NBA球員,在Nets同隊隊友是NBA Allstar等級Derrick Williams、Joe Johnson、Paul Pierce、Kevin Garnett等,現在要跟一群名不見經傳,且實力離NBA有一段差距的菲律賓PBA球員,難保不會有配合不起來,或是不信任隊有能力,導致獨幹的問題產生。此外,Blatche在NBA曾有過一連串離經叛道的歷史,也讓人不禁懷疑,他能否乖乖地跟這隻國家隊隊友好好相處,融入配合,專心打籃球。結果是,他跟隊上的球員不僅相處融洽,且在短時間內就培養出革命的情感。而我們自家的Q呢?已經被任命為新一屆的台灣隊長,甚至還在瓊斯杯的球員宣示上用臺語宣示,光配合度這點,Q做的已經好到不能再好了。那麼,下一屆新一任的歸化球員,哪個有可能Q的配合度呢?

最後一個考量,台灣的籃球,到底是要朝哪個特點發展?韓式籃球?美式籃球?歐式籃球?甚至於,菲律賓式籃球?不同的球風會造成我們對於歸化球員有不同的要求。韓式的球風打法在亞洲佔有一席之地,但在今年世錦賽面對世界列強,則是一敗塗地。預賽五場平均輸22分,對比菲律賓場均輸四分,高下力判。韓式球風強調快狠準,球員基本動作扎實投射能力準確,但遇到更高、更壯、更快、更粗野、更強調肢體碰撞的世界級球隊,這一套,已經不管用。更值得思考的是,本次參賽的名單中,韓國兩個90後新世代的長人皆超過205公分,為其歷史之最。為此,韓國把歸化的唯一名額,用在38歲198公分的二號射手金泰鐘,他場均8.8分,完全跟其他國家的歸化球員不在一個檔次。我相信這結果會刺激韓國籃協去思考,下一個歸化球員的體型位置及球風,可以預見的是,應該會朝四五號位的大個子去著手歸化。

我們的國家隊在本屆七月份的亞洲盃,派出新一代的年輕小將,在美籍教練Otis Hughley的調教訓練之下,以大量的美式侵略式防守與快速攻防轉換系統,獲得了第二名的佳績。我想,在準不可能有韓國準的狀態下,以短期杯賽而言,我認為走美式的侵略式防守跟快速攻防的球風,是最新一代缺乏2公尺長人的中華隊可行的方向。再搭配一名6呎11吋210公分的NBA等級洋將鞏固內線,混合美中球風的優點,瞄準明年度的奧運資格賽,我們仍然是大有可為。

但說到底,那個歸化球員會是誰?綜合金錢、球風、配合度等因素,腦海中NBA四百多個球員名單,我還真的想不出哪個值當打之年的球員,願意被歸化,替我們的國家隊效力…。

註1:2012年菲律賓的國名生產毛額GDP,為世界195個國家中,排名137名。來源:List of countries by GDP (PPP) per capita

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Grant Lee’s Motorcycle Diary -Taiwan P.2 West Coast

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(Pictures taken 2011 summer)
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The terrain of Taiwan is divided by the Central Mountain Range into two parts: the west and the east coast. While in the west, the majority of the terrains are flat plains; in the east, the scene are more of mountains and coastlines. The industrial development of Taiwan began from the west, where more than 80% of the entire populations residing there, and that made Taiwan to be one of the most crowded countries in the world.

I live in Taipei, the northern part of Taiwan, and I began the trip from there. It took me three days finishing east coast. There, I saw more pure scenes, such as seas and undeveloped places. In the west, the scene were replaced by buildings, people, vehicles, and things you can find in modern cities.

Riding motorcycle to travel seem relaxing, but it is not totally my case. Everyday I needed to sit for more than eight hours riding my bike (If you are curious about the model, it is Kymco KTR 150) between 150 to 200 km. It was definitely painful to maintain the posture. At times dehydration happened. But once I arrived at a new place, I could see, listen, and feel the flow of the place, and that inspired me to keep on moving. One time I purposely did not follow tour-book map, and immediately after I found myself stuck in somewhere that didn’t allow motorcycle to enter.

I consider this trip to be the best one in my 28-year-old life so far. It took me tear, sweet, and bloods, but it was all worthy. The pictures that I have taken, the views that I have seen, and the people that I have met, change my perceptions about my mother land. People always joke that city kid do not know the beauty of countryside. After this trip, I could proudly say I was no longer one of them. (Hey I traveled around the entire island!)

So, for those of you who are reading this blog but have never been to Taiwan. If you ask me what’s the best way to travel here? Well, you already know the answer, don’t you!

Grant Lee’s Motorcycle Diary -Taiwan P.1 East Coast

grant lee motorcycle diary part one

Taiwan, my hometown, is a small island located in the south east Asia. In 2011 summer, I spent eight-day-seven-night, riding my motorcycle for more than 1500 km around Taiwan. (I literally felt like I lost my hips.) It was a trip of self-enlightenment, self-fulfilling, and self-discovery.Thanks to the trip, I was able to discover the beauty of the island like never before. Here, I want to show you what I had seen during the trip. Starting from the east coast, I hope you would the pictures and perhaps, plan on visiting *Formosa sometime in the near future.

*Formosa: Spanish Formosa was a Spanish colony established in the north of Taiwan from 1626 to 1642. The Portuguese were the first Europeans to discover the island of Taiwan, and named it Formosa due to the beautiful landscape as seen from the sea. Source: Wikipedia

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葛蘭特李 的籃球日誌 #9 Kevin Love vs. Andrew Wiggins: 現在 vs. 未來

對籃球迷來說,這暑假自由市場上的交易,簡直比好萊塢電影還要精采,而其中,最牽動NBA戰力版圖與球迷神經的,莫過於LeBron James I’m coming home的故事了。

在James宣布加盟後,加上選秀會選到的Andrew Wiggins,Cleveland Cavaliers的1-3號成為各隊的夢靨。目前,名單上有Kyrie Irving、Dion Waiters、LeBron James以及Andrew Wiggins。這個組合無論攻守,在聯盟都可以排到前三的影響力,但是,4、5號則僅有會抓籃板的Tristan Thompson及進攻犯規製造大師Anderson Varejão,這陣容,比Miami Heat的內線還要Miami Heat。難不成,又要James去打四號、打小球嘛?我想,James既然決定回騎士,不會沒有想到這個問題。最近有消息指出,James主動聯絡Kevin Love,提出邀請入隊,一起拼搶總冠軍的提議。

要Minnesota Timberwolves交易球隊一哥Kevin Love,提出交易的球隊勢必要有足夠的籌碼來談,剛好,騎士隊就有,這個人,正是六月剛選進來的新一代加拿大飛人Andrew Wiggins。

Love vs. Wiggins,現在 vs.未來。到底騎士該選哪個呢?而哪個決定,對Love跟Wiggins最好呢?以下,我從五個不同角度來分析這些問題。

Kevin Love能夠替騎士帶來什麼?
Love是1980年至今,賽季場均25分12籃板次數第二多的人,總共兩次。第一名?Shaq O’Neal的四次。Love可以替騎士帶來的東西很多。首先,他優秀的外線能力能吸引敵隊內線球員到外線,拉大空間,讓James複製在熱火切入傳導的打法。再者,他優秀的低位單打能力,可以吸引包夾讓Irving跟其他射手群有舒服的出手空間。此外,他的籃板與長傳能力可以增加快攻機會,讓James獲得很多省力的easy basket。單就進攻來看,Love+Irving+James,破壞力甚至可能比熱火的LCD更強大。

Wiggins的發揮空間
現有陣容下,騎士新球季的前四得分手會是James、Irving、Waiters然後才是Wiggins。身為球隊的第四得分選擇,他拿到球的次數將大幅減少。過去一年在Kansas大學的比賽,他不斷被質疑進攻慾望不夠強烈的聲音沒有少過,現在,他連第三選擇都不是,很難說不會又有不投的現象。在這情況下,試問,大家對Wiggins的期望數據是什麼?我預估,他將場均10分5板2助攻1鍋1抄截的成績,而這成績依他的天份來說,是非常浪費的。他的球技還沒定型,適合的位置可以在2號或3號,但在騎士隊,3號位前面檔著James,他大多數時間只能打二號。總之,對於他未來的發揮空間,心理素質的培養,我認為,現階段的騎士是不適合他的。

Dion Waiters與Wiggins的排擠效應
若Love來,Dion Waiters跟Wiggins的排擠效應將有效紓緩。Waiters是個需要有球在手的得分後衛,讓他跟Wiggins一起競爭2號位,非常浪費兩名球員的天份跟進攻能力。Waiters強在進攻的外線與切入,而Wiggins現階段則是防守的橫向移動與火鍋能力,兩人優缺點明顯。這兩人放在很多隊都可以打先發35分鐘以上,而放在同一隊,不免顯得浪費。Wiggins若換來Love,Waiters可以在James的穿針引線下獲得火力釋放,不用擔心上場時間問題。此外,他不安的情緒將有效獲得安撫,可以心無旁驚的專攻二號位。若需要,讓他轉任第六人,帶領板凳有效減低先發不在場上的得分缺口,也可行。

拼現在?還是著眼未來?
現階段,Wiggins能夠替騎士帶來的及戰力,在於防守端,但他能防守的位置,James剛好也可以做到。然而,Love所能帶來的內線戰力,卻是Wiggins所無法相比。LeBron今年將滿30歲,正值生涯高峰,能夠拼總冠軍的時間,就是現在,而Wiggins才19歲,球技成熟還需要兩到三年的時間。因此,從拼戰總冠軍的角度來看,Love會比較適合。但有人可能會說,若James兩年約滿後閃人,球隊沒了Wiggins,豈不陪了夫人又折兵?!我認為不會。因為若Love來,肯定不會只想要拼一季就閃人,因此極有可能在14-15球季後跟騎士簽下新的合約,到時就算James走人,球隊有Irving跟Love,在東區也是強隊。若Love14-15球季約滿簽下*一年約(註),而James跟Love兩人16年約滿後同時走人呢?我認為這機率不大。

加入騎士對Kevin Love所帶來的效益
從2008年加入灰狼隊至今,已過六年,這六年,Love證明入選過三次明星賽,且證明自己是聯盟前三名的大前鋒好手,但這六年,灰狼從未進入過季後賽。獨善其身跟刷數據之名,開始跟他的名字連上。加盟騎士,在James身旁,Love可望一嚐季後賽滋味,且也可以證明自己不是只有在例行賽才能發揮。以經濟效應來看,在北大荒的灰狼,Love打的再好,所能夠帶來的經濟效應也是有限,但在James旁邊打球,他將獲得前所未有的關注程度,所能獲得的經濟效應也會較高。

站在球隊即戰力的考量,我認為騎士隊必須要忍痛交易Andrew Wiggins,因為Wiggins的未來,沒有人說的準,而James跟Love現在的能力,卻是有可能讓騎士一舉躍進成為角逐冠軍的競爭者!

註: NBA 2016年後將與電視台簽下新的合約,因為近年來NBA季後賽的收視率升高,NBA將可望提高轉播權利金的金額。到時球員的薪資幅度會上漲,這是為什麼James只跟騎士隊千兩年約的原因,因為到16年,他能簽的頂約將比現在高。

Kevin-Love1Andrew-Wiggins-Cavaliers-June-2014

Vblog – Wake Forest Retail Innovation Challenge Team Aurilie

One of the very first lessons I learned in MBA was “elevator pitch”. What’s elevator pitch? Basically, it is a short summary to concisely describe one object to your audience. The object can be a business solution, a personal introduction, a picture…etc. The speech is usually within one or two minutes.

In business schools, MBA students are trained to deliver elevator pitch. We have to be able to say who we are, what we do, and why our products work efficiently and effectively. (Products can be a person, a business idea, or anything.)

Though elevator pitch is called “elevator” pitch, I had never seen anyone doing it in the real elevator until Wake Forest Retail Innovation Challenge.

Wake Forest Innovation Challenge was one of the most exciting and unforgettable memories I have ever experienced in the MBA school: Pitching new business plan idea in the real elevators to venture capitalists and industry experts. The experience was simply overwhelming and breathe-taking. I wrote a blog post detailing the experience, check it out in: Wake Forest Retail Innovation Challenge.

Unlike the old post with lots of words, this time, I want to show you what it feels like in the real elevators! Check out the following videos presented by the Retail Innovation Center at Wake Forest University. I was getting bumped while watching the videos.

(Introduction of the competition)

 

 

(Team Aurélie presented their business plan in the left elevator without judges interruptions)

 

(Team Aurélie presented their business plan in the right elevator with judges interruptions)

 

 

If you are interested to watch more videos about the competition, you can go to the official webpage: http://ric2012.elevatorcompetitionlive.com

Screen Shot 2014-06-22 at 11.22.05 PM(Judith and I presented our business plans to more than 12 venture capitalists and industry experts in the final run.)

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(Team Aurélie members. From left to right, Xiang Bian, Pavarit Boonyasirichok, Judith Liao, and Grant Lee)

Introduction of the team members in Team Aurélie.

*All the videos shown in this blog belong to Retail Innovation Center at Wake Forest University.

New Running Races in Asia, why not?

April 21, 2013, exact 14 months ago today, I was bruised, scraped, cramped, and sore all over my body. It was all because of Tough Mudder! Today, I decided to experience that kind of pain again by attending Spartan Race on July 26 in Washington DC.

Spartan Race is a series of obstacle competitions that test participants’ physical limits and team works. Unlike Tough Mudder’s 12 miles obstacles, Spartan has varying level of difficulties and distances for participants to choose from.

As I finished online registration, one idea came across my mind: Why don’t we have this kind of running event in Asia?

As a running enthusiast, I have attended many running races in Taiwan. They were created with different themes, but the separations from one event to another was not much. After two years of living in the States, I have had many opportunities to closely observe and study Americans’ running races. I came to better realization about the different attitudes between Asians and Americans in running.

Generally speaking, compared to Asians, Americans are more adventurous, love outdoor activities, and consider working out as part of their lives. In here, it is not uncommon to see female runners wearing professional outfits running at noon under 90 degree Fahrenheit on street. It was also quite frequent to see lean men running nude at 5pm across pedestrians on a busy street. These scenes are not easy to find in Taiwan.

Because running is so common here, traditional running races could no longer satisfy American runners. (Traditional running races include 3K, 5K, 10K, half marathon, and marathon.) Thus, the new untraditional running races emerged: Running with a theme. Running with muds, colors, teammates, zombies…etc. Yes people are still running, but they are doing it with more emotion involvements.

Here are some of the non-traditional running races:
The Color Run – The Happiest 5K On The Planet.
The Great Bull Run – Running with the Spanish tradition… with live bulls.
Tough Mudder - Probably The Toughest Event On The Planet
Zombies, Run! – Running to the goal without getting caught by zombies.

“In the past five years, according to the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA), participation in adventure racing was up 211% and ranked in the Top 5 of most popular outdoor activities tried by first-timers.” (For more details, check the article, 2014 State of the Sport – Part I: Non-Traditional Running Events)

As a marketer, I can foresee these non-traditional running races with tremendous growing potentials in Asia. Recently, I found more and more Taiwanese, regardless of age, gender, and occupations, are willing to sacrifice their sleeping time on the weekend, waking up early to join running races in Taiwan. And the latest example was Nike’s new running campaign in Taipei: WERUNTPE : NIKE WOMEN’S HALF MARATHON 2014.

Why am I so positive about the non-traditional running races? I have my own reasons:

1. Sense of fulfillment. The non-traditional running races give participants rare opportunities to do something different. They attend not only a running race, but also a new and different one. From psychology’s stand point, the level of rarity can increase people’ desires to partake events.

2. Self-empowerment. More women are getting active in social and sports events. By participating in non-traditional running races, they gain more confidence in their physicality. They want to prove, guys can do it, we can do it too!

3. Fun really matters. The non-traditional running races add-on one more special ingredient in running, fun. I discussed with my friends who play regularly basketball but rarely run about the reasons of not running, and their responses have one thing in common, boredom. It is not that they can not run, instead it is the fact that boredom makes them shy away from running. The new invented running races will be so much fun. I believe even non-runners will be likely to give it a try.

4. Differentiation. Take a look at those successful brands, and they all do a good job in differentiating themselves from competitors. Nike differentiates itself by nike air, Twitter differentiates itself by constraints in 140 characters, and Egypt differentiates the brand by historical heritages. From the examples above, we can see that these races all have clear a theme, and these clear themes help them in differentiating themselves and telling a story with clear messages.

5. Social Network. Since the introduction of Nike+, Nike enable its users to run together. They don’t need to actually run together, but they can feel in that way. How? The key point is “share”. Users can share their running information on the social networks anytime, anywhere, with all kinds of captions. When people see their friends posting interesting running pictures on the social media, they can like, comment, and get more involved with that post.

Tough Mudder was invented by Harvard Business School students in 2010. They handed in their business plans with pride and confidence to professors, but they received “It will not work” as response. 4 years later, it has become one of the most popular non-traditional running races in the world. If they listened to the advises, this great invention will never happen. As I said in the title, new running races in Asia, why not?

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