By Jason Cruz
Northwest Asian Weekly
Welcome to another edition of The Layup Drill. In this edition, we talk Jeremy Lin, Nonito Donaire, Doug Baldwin, and how a Chinese rock band is indirectly helping the Washington Redskins.
Lin speaks his mind
Jeremy Lin spoke out about Asian American bias at media day for his new team, the Brooklyn Nets. Lin, who has spoken out about being Asian American in the past, talked about how everything he does is “hyper-magnified in a good way or a bad way” due to his race and perceptions of it.
Lin also reflected on the days of Linsanity when he was the toast of New York after an electric couple of months coming off the bench to be an overnight star for the Knicks. “In some ways, Linsanity wouldn’t have been Linsanity if I was a different skin color, most likely. It wouldn’t have been as big of a deal, and that went to my advantage, too. But if you look prior to that, a lot of the obstacles to even get to that point where I could get to a position of getting on the floor, those were definitely obstacles that were very much stereotypes that I had to fight along the way.”
Lin voiced his displeasure earlier this year about the role of race when Chris Rock made fun of three Asian kids acting as accountants as part of a skit for the Academy Awards. Recognizing who he is and what he means to different people, Lin is much more than a professional basketball player. He recognizes his ability to use his role as a way to influence and change perceptions.
On a lighter note, Lin was in Seattle this past summer to be a part of an annual eSports tournament at the KeyArena. He also launched an eSports team. For those wondering, eSports is just a fancy word for people playing video games. Is it really a sport? People, mainly kids, are willing to pay to watch others play them. So, maybe it is.
Lin, a gamer himself, created a team called Team VGJ. The team was made in partnership with the China Digital Group and Vici Gaming, a Chinese eSports organization.
Baldwin speaks out about police, gets threatened
Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin is not only a great player, he is also a very thoughtful, articulate person who has a clear message when it comes to issues of race and the police.
Baldwin supported a protest of the national anthem by San Francisco 49ers backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick and other NFL players to bring attention to issues related to inequality, police mistreatment, and the recent killings of Blacks by authorities. Baldwin, who is part Black and Filipino, led the Seahawks in a show of unity during each game thus far this season, in which the players interlocked arms during the national anthem.
Not only is Baldwin protesting on the field, he is talking about ways that the problems can be addressed. Baldwin spoke about how the police should review their training policies as a way to stop unnecessary killings of unarmed Blacks. At a Seahawks press conference, Baldwin revealed that his father is a police officer and that he’d like to see every police department in the country review its training policies. The Washington state Attorney General responded to Baldwin via Twitter and it appears that the state would at least consider the issue.
On Oct. 3, Baldwin met with “a handful of officers across [police] ranks,” according to a Seattle Police spokesperson. Seattle Mayor Ed Murray’s office indicated that it would also schedule a meeting with Baldwin.
However, others have not been as responsive to Baldwin’s critique. The Stanford alum has received death threats for speaking out. Despite the threats, Baldwin is continuing to talk about racial injustice and inequality.
Both Lin and Baldwin have decided to use their platforms to address social issues they perceive to be wrong. Regardless of your personal opinion, athletes using their fame to push social awareness is helpful for society as a whole.
Donaire returns to the ring on Pacquiao card
Filipino boxer Nonito Donaire will make his return to the ring on Nov. 5 to defend his World Boxing Organization super-bantamweight (118 pounds) title against Jessie Magdaleno.
Donaire, who was the 2012 Boxer of the Year, will be on the undercard of the Manny Pacquiao pay-per-view event. Pacquiao headlines the card against Jessie Vargas.
Donaire last fought this past April in Cebu City, Philippines, defending his super bantamweight title. His upcoming defense will be the first time that he has appeared on a card with Pacquiao.
Although the November event has not been receiving great mainstream press, the addition of Donaire to the card should get many Filipino fight fans excited about this event.
Donaire’s professional boxing record is 37-3.
Redskins hope to capitalize on The Slants as its case goes before the U.S. Supreme Court
While this might not be directly sports-related, the Portland, Ore.-based rock band, The Slants, will make an appearance before the United States Supreme Court and the Washington Redskins want to be a part of the act.
The Slants have been in a long-running case to trademark its name with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). It was denied based on a law barring the registration of trademarks that may disparage minority groups. But an appeals court overturned the law citing that it violated free-speech, despite the fact that it may disparage people of Asian descent (slant being a derogatory term referring to Asian eyes).
Similarly, the NFL’s Washington D.C. football team has been embroiled in a fight for its name “Redskins.” The name was previously trademarked with the USPTO, but was cancelled last year. A federal judge affirmed the decision to cancel the trademark “Redskins,” as it was offensive to Native Americans. A request for its own case to be heard before the Supreme Court was denied.
Now, the U.S. Supreme Court may consider reviewing The Slants case in its new term this fall.
If it is heard, it could mean that the Redskins would also benefit from a ruling in favor of The Slants. While the Portland band is opposed to the inference that there is an “alliance” with the Washington Redskins franchise, it appears that if the U.S. Supreme Court rules in The Slants favor, it would benefit the Redskins. The Slants have made it clear that they oppose the Redskins name, but striking down the law preventing the registration of names that may disparage minority groups would help the two.
Jason can be reached at email@example.com.