Jeremy Lin’s amazing 5-game run has captured the imagination of basketball fans everywhere, and even people who don’t normally care about basketball are tuning in.Obviously his story is being compared to Tim Tebow’s, though as Tony Manfred notes, Lin’s been playing great, whereas Tim Tebow did not.
There’s another difference: While Tim Tebow is the embodiment of Middle-America and Middle-American values, Jeremy Lin clearly appeals to liberal coastal elitists.
Setting aside the fact that both believe in god, the extent to which Tim Tebow wears his Christianity on his sleeve — or at least his face — obviously made a lot of people uncomfortable. One Rabbi worried that if Tim Tebow won the Super Bowl, it would lead to a rash of gay and Muslim-bashing. It wasn’t just that Tebow was an outspoken Christian, it was that Tebow’s wins really did seem miraculous!
Lin’s success is exactly the opposite. There’s no miracle here. He’s actually turning in good games, and he’s shown evidence that his play has improved over time.
And that’s a key thing that elites love: Meritocracy.
Successful people love to think that they didn’t achieve success due to being part of the lucky sperm club, but rather because they deserve it. And Lin, who wasn’t recruited by many colleges, and who wasn’t drafted out of Harvard, clearly got where he is due to merit. This is an indisputable aspect of his story. Again, the fact that Tebow seems to have help from the hand of God takes away from the meritocratic aspect of his rise, even though he surely has a compelling story of hard work.
Then there’s everything else.
The fact that he’s Asian is a nice bit of stereotype-busting. The fact that he went to Harvard makes for a good triumph-of-the-dorks story, something else that elitist coastals love.
Bottom line: Between the lack of religious baggage, the meritocracy, the stereotype-busting, and the Ivy League pedigree, what we have here (finally!) is a feel-good story for the elites.
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