Occasionally, I will take a break from writing about science and health issues to concentrate on other topics. Today is one of those occasions.

     Earlier this week, in response to Linsanity, boxer Floyd Mayweather tweeted:

     This was by all accounts extremely tame for Mayweather, who in the past has gone on inflammatory rants such as this one directed toward Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao, “As soon as we come off vacation, we’re going to cook that little yellow chump. We ain’t worried about that. So they ain’t gotta worry about me fighting the midget. Once I kick the midget ass, I don’t want you all to jump on my d—. So you all better get on the bandwagon now. … Once I stomp the midget, I’ll make that mother f—– make me a sushi roll and cook me some rice…You know how it is, we gonna cook that motherf*cker with some cats and dogs.” Regardless, Mayweather has gotten a good amount of flak for his tweet which prompted lifelong Knicks fan and movie director Spike Lee to tweet back, “Floyd Mayweather I Hope You Watched Jeremy Hit The Gamewinning 3 Pointer With .5 Seconds Left.Our Guy Can BALL PLAIN AND SIMPLE.RECOGNIZE.” (I love tweet battles!) While a panel on ESPN debated whether Mayweather’s comments were Fair or Foul, curiously without an Asian-American commentator:

Tale of the Tweet

Jeremy Lin is a good player but all the hype is because he’s Asian.

     In one sentence Mayweather simultaneously gives Lin props as a player and then disregards him for being Asian. Let’s face it, a big (if not the biggest) reason why Lin is getting all this attention is because he’s Asian-American. Another factor is that he playing in a HUGE media market: New York. But not to be overlooked is the fact that he’s good. And he’s been doing it at every level: high school, he was captain of a 32-1 Palo Alto High School that upset Mater Dei for the California Interscholastic Federation Division II state title. After being ignored by schools like Stanford and UCLA, he went to Harvard where he made the All-Ivy First Team twice and Second Team once and finished his college career as the first player in Ivy League history to record at least 1,450 points (1,483), 450 rebounds (487), 400 assists (406) and 200 steals (225). Now, after being waived by the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets, he’s making the most of his opportunity with the Knicks. (Don’t believe he’s good? It’s actually SCIENTIFICALLY PROVEN.) The hype is because he’s good AND Asian. No one would be talking about him if he was the first Asian-American player warming benches…and no one was when he was warming benches for the first 20 games or so. This is the story–as Spike Lee puts it “a great American story”–of an underdog breaking a racial ceiling. Only time will tell how good a player he’ll turn out to be.

Black players do what he does every night and don’t get the same praise.

     This is a tough one because it’s hard to parse out to which black players he’s referring. The NBA as it stands is dominated by black and African American players (85%). The superstars who grab the headlines are predominately black. (And yes this includes criticism as well as praise.) Think D.Wade, LeBron, D.Rose, Durant, Kobe, & Paul Pierce. OK The Truth is a stretch, but this Amasian bleeds Green. Now, if Mayweather is  referring to  good black basketball players and not necessarily the superstars– well, these players play in the shadow of the aforementioned giants. Fairly or unfairly, they are measured by a different yardstick.

The Pitfalls of Linsanity

     There are, however, some real downsides to the media’s Linfatuation. Eventually, the saturation will lead to Lin fatigue and Linevitable backlash. This might explain Mayweather’s comments. And then there’s the unfortunate timing of Linsanity coinciding with Black History Month. Media coverage of Lin crowds out stories that pertain to the history of black players such as the NBA’s first black player Earl Lloyd, who was honored 5 nights ago.* It also distracts attention from a larger racial issue that exists in the NBA. While 85% of the players are black, one cannot ignore the overwhelming “whiteness” of team ownership (minus Michael Jordan). The racial subtext of this dichotomy is unavoidable and the dynamics of which were at play during the lockout negotiations last year  (see: NBA lockout: Negotiations could be hijacked by racial perceptionsECONOMICS, RACE, AND THE N.B.A. LOCKOUT, & Is the NBA Lockout About Race?). Furthermore, Linsanity and the coverage of Mayweather’s tweets contributes little to the discussion of larger issues, such as whether sports (college and pro) are exploiting black athletes and the continued practice of stereotyping blacks as athletes.

     Following criticism of his comments, Mayweather responded, “Other countries get to support/cheer their athletes and everything is fine. As soon as I support Black American athletes, I get criticized,” Mayweather posted on Twitter. “Wow what a country,” and later added, “I’m speaking my mind on behalf of other NBA players. They are programmed to be politically correct and will be penalized if they speak up.” I just wish he had used the opportunity to bring into focus some of the more pressing issues facing black athletes rather than vaguely supporting black athletes and dismissing Lin as a Asian basketball player.

*Interestingly, it was a Japanese-American, Wataru Misaka, who broke the NBA color barrier in the 1947-48 season. Who did he play for? The New York Knicks.

Related reading: http://www.blackyouthproject.com/2011/12/the-return-of-the-nba/


4 thoughts on “Money Mayweather vs Linsanity

  1. Very interesting and all good points made. You are right to note that the hype is because he is good (and Asian).
    Mayweather’s reactions brings up two very important points in my mind.

    1) This notion that only people from certain groups are allowed to do something or be good a certain task. This is called casting, as in CASTE. Mayweather’s words are said so matter-of-factly as if “Of course Blacks are good athletes and no one expects an Asian to be as good and defintely not better”. These types of assumptions and stereotypes are hurtful to everyone. And frankly, I find it ridiculous that members of one marginalized group wants to hang on to the shreds of popularity and superiority that they too will resort to harmful race politics.

    2) Mayweather falls to appreciate the importance of critical mass. Lin and the number of Asian players in most popular American sports are still low, thus a novelty. Novels always stand out, and that also includes being under the microscope and held to harder standards or nit-picked for every little thing. There is a critical mass of Black players in the NBA, so he’s very likely right: they don’t get the praise for doing the same thing.

    And all of this still comes back to science and diversity. Once folks of any background feel comfortable joining the discipline and are equally analyzed/evaluated/considered then we just might be able to reach the critical mass of flks populating the halls of academia/industry where we just might not even notice/care if someone shot a slam dunk or not. Because after all, in science – we all shoot slam dunks all the time.

  2. It seems you truly fully understand plenty pertaining to this subject and
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    Linsanity | Amasian Science” atrexl . Thank you -Gabriel

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