by B. Austin
Houston Rockets PG Jeremy Lin said that if he wasn’t Asian he would have been offered a Division 1 basketball scholarship.
There is absolute validity to what Jeremy Lin is saying. Lin is addressing the social lens and perspective with which people generally view him and people of his ethnicity through. That isn’t preposterous, groundbreaking, or shocking. This is just the reality of the American social landscape and the larger narrative of human nature and racial prejudices. There are two things that I think would serve us well to acknowledge and address:
1) Professional sports is one of the only places where racism, prejudices, and social rifts can be mended because of the closeness of a team and a locker room.
2) Also the fact that competitive professional sports is the ultimate meritocracy. It’s based on competitiveness and greed. Once you realize the dude CAN play, all the other shit becomes irrelevant. But let’s not act like that huge “white elephant” or “8000 pound gorilla” isn’t in the room. “White men can’t jump”, “Asian people aren’t athletic outside of martial arts”, “Black guys are superior athletically and aesthetically in sports and porn”, “Black guys don’t score well academically and are almost all ‘gangbangers with speed’”. These are all dumb generalizations and stereotypes that are a part of the social and (at times) morally corrupt social fabric. We have almost all at times heard them, and we may even have allowed them to creep into our psyche. To act as if Lin is crazy or off-base for addressing this is delusional. The road to the NBA had to be damn-near impossible for this kid. He started from the bottom, but now he’s here…and the NBA is going to capitalize on the international appeal and the large following in Asia (particularly China) because at the pinnacle of this thing, it’s about revenue, profits, and economics. Lin drives revenue, increases profitability, and is economically viable – all the social issues are in the rear view mirror. I like the fact that he’s willing to still address them and talk about his journey, and we’d do well to heed his words and look at what he’s addressing.