A brief jump into pro basketball since pro basketball just kind of jumped into my life recently. Most of America has been talking about Jeremy Lin all week and he’s been an even bigger hit in the Asian-American world.
It is a fantastic story in it’s own right. We love cinderella stories in sports. We love watching underdogs come out of nowhere. Sports is still able to surprise us. Linsanity is a national story right now.
At the same time, it’s huge in the Asian-American world.* It points out a lot of stereotypes that Asians have to deal with—all of which are nice to see blown up. And it shows how hungry Asian-Americans have been for their own sports stars to identify with.
*A world which I half-identify with. I’m lucky enough to be able to pass as just about anything now but I definitely grew up as non-white.
But as much as this is about turning stereotypes on their heads, I can’t help but wonder if the fact that he still corresponds to the standard Asian model-minority stereotypes fuels the hype. Would Asians still like him as much if he weren’t a Harvard grad and were instead a college dropout?
I’m not sure. Yes, it’s nice to see an Asian athlete in the big American sports.* The fact that he’s a nerd** though means he’s that he’s truly on of us.
*So far it’s really just been Tim Lincecum and Hines Ward. And both of them are half.
**In the way that anyone who goes to a top-tier college is a nerd.