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Has the Jeremy Lin Coverage Been Unfair?

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By Jonathan Moormann, Christian Post Contributor
February 24, 2012|9:16 pm

Since Chinese-American Jeremy Lin burst on to the NBA landscape at the beginning of February, the media world has been abuzz over the new star – sometimes for better, sometimes for worse.

As the hype around Lin has grown louder, the commentary on the Texas Christian's racial background has ranged from benign to completely insensitive.

The largest and most publicized issue came when ESPN published an article about Lin with the title, "A Chink in the Armor." The editor in question, also a Christian, was fired and has since publicly stated that it was completely unintentional.

However, that is far from the only questionable mentions of Lin's background within the media. Recently, Ben and Jerry's released a "Taste the Lin-sanity" flavor, only available in Harvard Square. The frozen yogurt features lychee fruit and chunks of fortune cookies.

Perhaps the most offensive mention, however, came from FOXSports.com writer Jason Whitlock. After Lin and the New York Knicks beat the Lakers on Feb.10, Whitlock tweeted, "Some lucky lady in NYC is gonna feel a couple inches of pain tonight." Whitlock has since apologized for the comments.

These incidents, as well as several others, prompted the Asian-American Journalists Association to release a set of guidelines for covering Lin earlier this week. In the release, the AAJA listed several racial stereotypes (which they called "danger zones") that journalists should stay away from while covering Lin.

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While there is no excuse for making racist comments in the news, it is hard to excise Lin's background from the story of his meteoric rise. In addition to being the first American of Chinese descent to play in the NBA, Lin has experienced racism throughout his career.

Lin's high school coach, Peter Diepenbrock, even said that he suspected Lin's race played into many colleges not recruiting him after college.

"[Lin] was scrawny, but don't doubt that a little racial profiling, intentional or otherwise, contributed to his under-recruitment… If [Lin] was African-American or Caucasian, it might have been a different deal," Diepenbrock told the Los Angeles Times.

The Christian Post asked Richard Clark, co-founder and editor-in-chief of Christ and Pop Culture, if he thought Lin's intense media coverage was unfairly biased by race. "It's a debate that could happen and probably should happen," Clark said. "But it's more about his talent."

Another aspect of Lin's background that has received heightened media attention is his religion. His sudden rise to fame and devout Christian faith have led many commentators to compare Lin with Denver Broncos quarterback and outspoken Christian Tim Tebow, who also became a media darling overnight.

Clark, however, does not like the comparison.

"It's not like [Lin]'s Tebowing after every shot," Clark laughed.

"To be like Tebow is valid," Clark explained, "but Lin's faith is different. It's something he feels deeply, but doesn't need to put out there."

 

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