For the sixth consecutive year, the United States Sports Academy is leading Thailand sports officials and students on a two week tour of American sports programs, which includes catching a San Francisco Giants baseball game to touring Walt Disney World’s sports resort in Orlando.

U.S. speed skating men's coach Derek Parra (left), a 2002 Olympic gold medalist in speed skating, talks about the oval with Sports Authority of Thailand members last year in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The Sports Authority of Thailand (SAT) is sending 15 people this year from Sept. 17-30 to get an up-close and in-depth look at everything from American football stadiums and speed skating rinks to strength and conditioning programs and organized youth sports.

Betsy Smith, the Academy’s director of academic administration and continuing education, has led the tour the past six years and says the Thais enjoy studying American sports.

“They are really fascinated by our sports system,” Smith says. “They’re interested as much in American spectators as watching the event itself. In Thailand, women and families don’t usually attend athletic events.”

The Academy, the largest graduate program in sport education in the world, developed a relationship with Thailand more than 50 years ago.  The sports university has delivered sports programs in 65 countries around the globe. The Academy is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year as one of the first universities in the United States dedicated to sports education.

The SAT is Thailand’s primary sports organization and plays a vital role in developing sport. The Academy offers Thailand students both an International Certification in Sports Management (ICSM) and Sports Coaching (ICSC).

At the conclusion to the SAT study tour, about a dozen Thailand students traveling with the group will attend a seminar to listen to Dr. Wirt Edwards, the Academy’s Chair of Sports Exercise Science, speak on nutrition, Dr. Conrad Woolsey, Chair of Sports Coaching, discuss coaching and motivation, and Dr. Arthur Ogden, Chair of Sports Management, talk about management in sports. The Thailand students will then attend a graduation ceremony where they will receive their diplomas at 2:30 a.m. Friday, Sept. 28 at the Academy’s  Daphne, Ala., campus.

This year’s tour begins in San Francisco with the National League West Division-leading Giants taking on the Colorado Rockies on Sept. 18. Among other things, the tour includes stops at Stanford University to study its athletic programs, the United States winter Olympic facilities near Salt Lake City, Utah, Disney’s All Star Sports Resort in Orlando, Fla., and the IMG sports academies in Bradenton, Fla. While they are in the Daphne area, the Thailand group will also take in a Spring Hill College women’s soccer game and Daphne High School football game on Sept. 28.

Last year, the group’s study tour emphasized winter sports as the tropical country prepares to participate in the Winter Olympics for the first time in 2014 in Sochi, Russia.