Jeremy Lin, Racism in Sport (Critical Response)

In chapter 9 of Dave Zirin’s book Game Over, he discusses the racial barriers that exist in the modern day professional sport world. Zirin goes on to discuss various examples of racism that occur in professional sport. One of the examples was the case of NBA player Jeremy Lin, and I look to examine this case and discuss some thoughts.

In February 2012, Jeremy Lin was playing for the New York Knicks when he unexpectedly helped lead the Knicks to an extended winning streak. During this time Jeremy Lin became a huge star, and the term “Linsanity” was known throughout the world. Lin was the first American born player of Taiwanese descent, and his heritage and success led to much attention, but it also opened the door for a lot of scrutiny and hate from NBA fans. An employee of Fox Sport tweeted “I thought Asians couldn’t drive” and other extremist said that he was the “chink in the chain”. Many believe that these sorts of comments are extremely offensive and are quick to jump to the defensive of Lin’s case. I believe that comments like Asians cannot drive is not an extremely racist comment, and is only blown up because in today’s society people have become sensitive to racism and equal rights. If anyone says something that can be related to a stereotype, then it is racist. In my opinion, people will always have something to say about someone’s success, they will either hate them or love them, but unless the comment is derogatory and meant to offend the person, then it is only one persons opinion. Racism is all around us, whether we can see it or not. Coming to the defence of Lin about jokes that can be deemed racist is not going to stop the world from being racist. All you can do is enjoy the high level of athleticism that is being put on display.

Zirin, D. (2013). Game over: How politics has turned the sports world upside down. (pp. 163-183). New York, United States of America: The New Press.

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5 Responses to Jeremy Lin, Racism in Sport (Critical Response)

  1. jl09iv says:

    Jeremy Lin is a great basketball player who is now entering the prime of his career. However Jeremy Lin unlike Yao Ming was not a phenom and is not blessed with the same physical structure as Yao Ming. Yao Ming sent a standard for Asian basketball players as a 7,1″ center, Jeremy Lin is the complete opposite type of player as Yao Ming. Jeremy Lin is a quick, shifty, smaller point guard catching fans and writers off guard by his play. Racism towards Lin and any other Asian basketball player is unacceptable and stereotypes need to be removed. Jeremy Lin is American he is only of Asian background.

  2. steveun says:

    It’s certainly crazy how many racially motivated incidents occurred that involved basketball player Jeremy Lin, but it’s only expected when you have such few Asian Americans in the NBA who are as talented and quick to come upon the scene as he did. what I think is really important is how well he handled these type of situations. Even though he dealt with some offensive remarks, he was able to handle them quite professionally. I remember when a former editor of ESPN had accidentally allowed a typo in an article which was very out of line and offended not only Asians but many Americans. He was fired from his job even though he meant no harm to Lin. Jeremy later met with the editor and forgave him for his mistake. Instead of speaking out negatively about the incident, Lin said that it happens and that all was to be forgiven.

  3. rb10lh says:

    I agree with your initial point that racism is all around us, whether we see it or not. However, Jeremy Lin is a fairly average player by NBA standards, today. He was a phenominon that lasted for about 3 months, and he got his large contract in Houston. I think all we can do is enjoy what he does on the court, and we can not direct our feelings about him, in a racial tone. Jeremy is very different from other asian stars (like Yao Ming mentioned above) because the mosty fascinating thing about his is the fact he went to Harvard (this further emphasizes stereotypes that Asians are great students). He has become one of the richest people ever to come out of Harvard, and the first to play in the NBA from there. That was another fuel in the Linsanity, rather then race, although race did play a large part in Linsanity.

  4. bozceko13 says:

    Totally agree with your viewpoint Brendan. I agree that people are way too sensitive in this day and age when it comes to racism, it seems like every little thing that an athlete does or says that has any racial connotation is automatically blown out of proportion by the media. In the case of Jeremy Lin I do not believe that the things that were said by the media were meant to be malicious, they writers probably just thought that it was a play on words or a poke at the stereotypes that society has about Asians. Everybody just needs to take a step back and clear their minds of all this racist stuff and just focus on the sport and on the great performances that these athletes display night in and night out. If These athletes are not bothered by it, why should we be?

  5. kd09ch says:

    Great topic to write a blog about. people are sensitive in todays society, but being racist is not an excuse. To insult someone because of their fame or success shows how pathetic and weak people are. when I read that reading and read the chink in the armor comment I was disgusted because that is an extremely racist comment. And to think the guy who put it thought people would find it funny or as a joke. racism is all around us and its difficult to erase these stigmas because of our history. hopefully in the years to come we can erase these racist comments and enjoy the games we love to watch without ridiculous comments like these.

    Marked til here – Nov 27 – SE

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