“Bar is Rife.” I like to think that’s the story of my life, or should I say “rife.” Social standards have set the bar relatively low for Asian Americans in the sports scene. Growing up, I was always involved in the game of basketball, but it was not always a breeze. No, I was neither the tallest nor the best to lace up on the court, but then again, how often is an Asian guy the best player on the court? It’s a rarity, but it is not impossible. I had my fair share of times being picked last or not being picked at all. One specific article especially invokes those feelings. The subject of this article, a young Asian American man, is referred to as that “little Asian dude.” That used to be me. While I’m still not the tallest player on the court, I am no longer the misguided representation of Asian Americans in sports.
I grew up in a predominantly African-American community dominated by the game of basketball. Between the legs. Crossover. Hesitation. Spin move. Fadeaway. Could they have imagined I would be the one performing that string of moves? Or calling “game” as the ball fell through the net?
As I grew older, I became more aware of my environment. Every time I stepped on the court and I was called “little Asian kid,” it was not because I was actually smaller than them. It was because of racial stereotyping. I knew I had to do something. I had to show everybody who cheered hysterically, as I made each shot, that I was more than a joke. That I was more than the Asian kid who sat at home all day reading books. I wanted more than the “okay, check it, Asian kid got game.” I wanted more than the physics comments every time a shot went in. I wanted respect, something so hard to come by for an Asian American on the basketball court.
Even the young man in the article published by barstoolsports deserves more respect. Many do not understand the struggle Asian Americans go through on a daily basis. Having been through it all, I can assuredly say that we, as Asian Americans, do not appreciate being called “little Asian dude,” or “kid.”
We have names, just like everyone else.
Calvin Zhang : Yes, I am an Asian American. Yes, I play basketball. No, I don’t care about the social stigmas I am up against. I was blessed with heart over height and I’d take that any day.