David He and Bruce Lu might be doing something they love but the University of Illinois students are also making history. It was announced this summer that the school would conduct a radio broadcast of Illini football games in Mandarin Chinese in an effort to expand the game and school’s global footprint.
“For the last three years we’ve done these ‘Football 101’ clinics that have been targeted toward our international students here on campus,” Mike Waddell, senior associate director of athletics, told USA Today last week. The school has 5,295 Chinese students, a number that accounts for over 50 percent of the school’s international population and 12 percent of the entire school’s population.
He and Lu were selected to broadcast games this season in their native language, with Lu serving as the play-by-play announcer and He providing color commentary. They both answer questions from listeners online to ensure their audience has a better understanding of the game.
“It’s both fun and challenging,” Lu said. “Without video stream, it’s really hard for them to understand what we’re talking about. Friends ask me tons of questions about it. The issue is that they have never been exposed to football before. A brand new thing is hard to pick up.”
This is believed to be the first broadcast of an American college football game in Mandarin Chinese. And it’s pretty darn cool: