China's tallest entrepreneur, basketball club owner and political adviser has added another hat, as the operator of a training facility to encourage youth sports participation.
To improve the fitness level and social ability of Chinese students, Yao Ming, the former NBA All-Star, announced on Tuesday that he will team with the NBA to open an extracurricular basketball training facility under his name, the NBA Yao School, for more Chinese teenagers to experience the joy of playing sports and staying healthy.
"The current poor fitness status of Chinese students and some regular schools' overemphasis on academic performance really worried me," Yao said before the tip-off of the preseason game between the Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Lakers at the MasterCard Center in Beijing on Tuesday.
"I hope the school will provide another after-school option for children while reminding society of great values like teamwork, discipline and confidence, that can't be taught from textbooks but from playing sports."
Yao's concern was highlighted by the tough reality of student health and a series of student deaths during sporting events this year.
According to the results of the 2013 national physical condition survey released in August, the general fitness level of Chinese teenagers has been declining since 1995 and conditions such as obesity and myopia are increasing among primary and secondary school students.
Yin Xiuzhu, a sophomore at the East China University of Political Science and Law, died during a run on May 28, just 10 days after Qiu Zhixiong, a student at the South China University of Technology, died at the end of a fitness test.
In an educational system where exam results are paramount, physical education and its importance is often overlooked, and children tend to be isolated without adequate time to socialize with each other.