Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Asian-Americans Love Jeremy Lin because........

Asian Americans are loving Jeremy Lin / Linsanity as evidenced by the tweets, Facebook posts, blogs and memorabilia being purchased at huge rates.

While the major media outlets are taking the angle that Asians love Jeremy Lin because he is breaking stereotypes (true), there is another angle that hasn't been covered as much.   Asian-Americans also LOVE basketball just as much as other people.  In fact, China and the Philippines love basketball just as much as any other country so there are probably more Asian basketball fans than any other ethnicity around the world.  Having Jeremy Lin be Asian and playing basketball is a dream come true for many Asian-Americans.

Focusing on Asian-Americans though, the love of basketball is evidenced by the various leagues, tournaments and Asian-American teams that exist up and down throughout California (and also in some other states).

Up in Northern California, there are at least a dozen organizations that host upwards of 8 to 12 youth basketball teams for boys and girls from 2nd to 12th grade.  These organizations host a tournament circuit year round that sometime include teams from Southern California.  The Southern California teams also do the same thing.

For adults, there are various leagues that have been around for years and years.  The longest standing leagues is the Nisei Athletic Union (NAU) that originated back in 1931.  Originally catering to Japanese-Americans, the league is now open to both Chinese and Japanese Americans.  Another long standing league in the Chinese Christian Union (CCU) Summer Basketball League.   The CCU Summer League has been around since the 60's or 70's and had it's start in Chinatown.  The league featured primarily Chinatown churches but began to expand in the 1990's.  This past summer, the league had over 70 teams from churches around SF and the Peninsula.  These are the long standing examples but other leagues such as the Dream League (SF Bay Area - 10 years) and others give Asian-Americans opportunities to play in a competitive basketball environment.

Beyond leagues, there are various tournaments catering to Asian-Americans.  Rather than playing a 2 to 3 month "season", organizers host weekend tournaments in various locations around California and other cities.   WHile most of the SF Bay Area / Northern California tournaments usually feature local teams, there are some tournaments involving teams from other states.

Two of the longer standing tournaments are the Las Vegas Invitational which is primarily a Chinese/Japanese tournament which features some 15 divisions of 6 to 8 teams each.  Most of the teams are California based though some of state teams join the fun every now and then.

One large tournament (32nd year in 2012) that is organized in the East Coast is the North American Chinese Invitational Basketball tournament.   Held every Memorial Day Weekend, the tournament shifts locations every year.  In 2012, the tournament will be held in Canada.  The most interesting aspect of the tournament?  It features teams from all over North America, Canada and even from China.  The majority of the teams for this tournament come from the East Coast (Boston, New York, Philly) and Canada but West Coast teams (LA, SF, Arizona) have also made treks to compete in the tournament.

The point in all of this history is that Asian-Americans not only like Jeremy Lin but they like basketball.  Yes, there will be the bandwagon fans who only follow basketball because of Jeremy Lin.  But there are also basketball fans who liked basketball before Jeremy Lin and will continue to like it after the Jeremy Lin noise has died down.

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