Tiger Mom vs. Soccer Mom


Raymundo Beltran with Matthew King at the Wild Card

The Chinese Guy

Jeremy Lin. Lin-sanity. What are we to make of the Cinderella of the NBA? The guy no one noticed until he was pulled off the bench when other players were either injured or unable to play; the guy so low on the roster, he was sleeping on a friend's couch because he wasn't sure how long he was going to be a New York Knick.

Since his debut, Twitter has exploded with his hashtag, the Knicks Facebook page has over 500% more views and the online traffic to the Knicks' website has increased 3,000%, according to USA Today.

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From Charlie Chan to Bruce Lee to Jeremy Lin

Here we have a real Asian-American hero. The son of Taiwanese immigrants that saw him through public school to Harvard. His father taught him basketball a the local YMCA, rounding out a balanced diet of education and sports. Not only is he breaking the stereotype of the NBA basketball player, he is also forging the same path Bruce Lee created when he became a Kung Fu hero and smashed the cliché that Hollywood created of the effeminate "Chinaman".

What Now, Tiger Mom?

But the big question is, what does this do to Chinese-American parents who have enrolled their children in multiple SAT tutoring schools? What do they say when everyone, even Grandmother, is screaming, "LIN SHU-HOW!" every time he appears on the television? This is the best thing that could ever happen for Tiger and Soccer Moms. Jeremy Lin proves both their points: Get good grades and be the best at your chosen sport.

I am a hybrid of the Tiger and Soccer Mom.

My son Matthew is a boxer at the Wild Card; his trainer is Pepe Reilly, a U.S. Olympian trainer and boxer. Matthew started boxing with Pepe at the age of 13. He was a short chubby kid that put up with the rigorous weekly training and now 7 years later, he is a 6-foot tall welterweight. Matthew was diagnosed with a learning disability at the age of 5, he was a late reader and writer, but scored high on visualization. He was put in special education classes and kids labeled him the way they do at schools. He pushed through at school and in the boxing ring with no complaints. Now he is in his junior year at CalArts, a tutor to high school kids in the school's Community Arts Partnership and in the top percentile of his class. He was taught that to do what you love, meant you had to work hard and not wait for it to be handed to you.

Love What You Do

Jeremy Lin is more than a symbol for Asian Americans, he is also what Tiger Moms will point to when they want to give an example of a humble, hard working and well-rounded adult. Soccer Moms will point to his ability to study and play - "see he got into Harvard and was also was the captain of his high school basketball team!" Both will agree that loving what you do doesn't come easy - you have to work for it.

And what all Moms want for their kids is for them to grow up loving what they do and to give it their best.

Image: Ophelia Chong / Raymundo Beltran and Matthew King at the Wild Card

Artist, designer and teacher Ophelia Chong explores her adopted city of Los Angeles with an eye and ear for the small moments that tests the duality of being an Asian American. Join her on her journey every Thursday on KCET's SoCal blog

About the Author

A true multi-tasker: illustrator, designer, teacher, networker and writer of short blasts of pent up hot air.
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LEAVE A COMMENT Leave Comment  

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One thing that's troubled me about the whole Jeremly Lin saga is that I think that there's been way too much focus on the fact that he's Asian. The whole Floyd Mayweather saying that the story wouldn't be a big deal if he was black dumbfounded me. I think that the story is at most 15% race and only because it compounds the underlying story -- namely that the dude was going to be cut and now is bascially running a team in the biggest market in the NBA. The Asian angle primarily just multiplies the Cinderella effect because you don't associate that ethnicity with basketball success.

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Omar, we don't get many Asians playing professional sports, just wait till there's an Asian playing hockey. Thanks for visiting and commenting.