Any type of sociological examination of the phenomenon that is Jeremy Lin shall being and end with one word: “Lin-sanity.”
Although already becoming a cliché, it’s still the most succinct way to describe this modern fairytale of beating all the odds, the most recent chapter of which sees Lin breaking records in his first four starts held by the likes of Michael Jordan and Lebron James; records that have been in place since 1976.
To say that Lin’s performance shatters stereotypes about Asian Americans has already become an understatement. Before Lin, it was nearly impossible for many to imagine the meteoric rise of such a minority figure in American pro sports. In fact, it was likely this kind of stereotyping that led to Lin being overlooked by several ball clubs before being picked up by the New York Knicks.
Now, as the Knicks continue to shine in the NBA spotlight due in no small part to Lin’s extraordinary performance, sociologists are taking note of his impact on his fans, the country and his global audience. Although individual fans may not take notice of it, they are collectively participating in the inclusion and acceptance of a growing icon that doesn’t fit society’s mold.
Lin has further succeeded in building cultural and societal bridges with his openness about his religion, drawing comparisons to Tim Tebow and endearing him to people who may have otherwise been more skeptical about an Asian American basketball superstar. Indeed, Lin’s unassuming attitude about his success may wind up setting a new example of what it means to be a sports legend, which has its own sociological implications.
Some believe that this is evidence that the mold is breaking, or breaking down, which would be a significant leap for a country and a world that still struggles with cultural boundaries and stereotypes regarding class and social status.
Welcome to Lin-sanity.
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.