Monday, 20 January 2014

Asians can be good at sports too, America

K so the Australian Open was on TV at my parents' house a few nights ago and I happened to tune in to a match between Zheng and Dellaqua, whoever those people are. On the rare occasion that I find myself watching sports I nearly always cheer for the Asian team if there is one, just because, you know, Asia. So I watched for a couple of minutes and I noticed something awfully peculiar. Every single shot was of Dellaqua. Dellaqua serving. Dellaqua receiving serve. Dellaqua stretching between points. Actually, I didn't even find out what Zheng looked like until she challenged a call. Up to that point she was just a blue blur somewhere in the distance, because they were only showing her when it was also possible to capture Dellaqua in the same shot.

The commentary was pretty awful as well. Maria Carillo and that whole gang have a long and torrid history of glorifying and focussing on the one American player among a vast pool of international athletes even when that one American is middle-of-the-pack at best, so I wasn't exactly surprised that this happened, but it was still disheartening. Dellaqua makes a great shot – wow, Dellaqua really made a great shot there! Zheng makes a great shot – wow, Dellaqua really needs to pick it up!

Now no disrespect to Dellaqua. She did win and by a pretty handy margin at that, so, yeah, definitely. She was also an Australian player playing in Australia so I won't even rip on the crowd for being so uniformly biased. I'm not saying she didn't deserve to win, or even that she didn't deserve praise or attention. But I will say that she certainly didn't deserve all of it. Don't skimp on shots of a Chinese girl just because there's a white girl you could be showing instead.

It was kinda disgusting. I fucking hate sports, but even I know that there've been all kinds of breakout Asian athletes outside of Asia. Yao Ming comes to mind. Then there was that other basketball player whose name I can't remember, but who inspired ridicule because he was Asian. There was a female Asian golfer a few years back who was supposed to be pretty good. Tiger Woods is half-Asian. And oh yeah, how about motherfucking Kim Yuna and that Japanese girl (Asada) that the press manufactured a rivalry with for her – they represented Asian countries, sure, but they were competing against (and succeeding over) athletes from all over the world, because it was the goddamn Olympics.

It all reminded me of a story I read in the newspaper last week. Which means a lot of you probably know all about this already but I wanted to go a little K-blog on you and throw my two cents in, and maybe bring it to your attention if you haven't heard. Basically the United States just held its US Women's Figure Skating Grand Championships or whatever, and of the top four competitors, one was Japanese-American. I didn't watch, but according to reports, she skated quite well and placed third. (I don't have the expertise to comment on this, but someone I talked to did say "she was the only one who didn't fuck up.") Now customarily, the top three finishers in this tournament go on to represent the US at the Olympics, which you may have heard are like, pretty soon. But the US decided to break with tradition and sub out Nagasu for the fourth-place finisher.

Decide for yourself whether or not it's significant that Nagasu is American-born and Wagner is not, but point is, as one commentator put it, “So, the United States is sending three blonde white girls to represent it at the Olympics.” At an international competition where everybody shows the world what their country is all about. Where they are supposed to be sending their very best athletes, drawn from all corners of society. An amateur competition that pretends to effect the values of equality and sportsmanship.

Has this always been a thing? Well obviously it was a thing a hundred years ago, I mean has it always recently been a thing? Probably it has, I'm not really a sociology guy so I tend to be slow to pick up on stuff like this, but that just strengthens my point, really, because when even a guy like me, who doesn't notice this stuff, is taking notice and finding a problem, then obviously we've really got a fucking problem. Christ.

Go kick those little blonde girls' asses, Yuna.

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