Sports in translation

A couple of weeks ago, during the initial blushing bloom of Linsanity, I blogged about Jeremy Lin. While I beat T to the punch, T’s posting had much more cred – he actually got to hang out with Jeremy.
For fellow Americans of Chinese extraction, Jeremy Lin is a big deal, although obviously the Knicks’ #17 player is more than just Chinese-American; he’s also big as a Christian, Harvard grad, etc.

What surprised me though, was how it didn’t seem as a big of deal for non-Americans of Chinese extraction! What follows is an excerpt of the back-and-forth-comments on the Linsanity posting between T and Wo Ai (both bloggers in Shanghai of Chinese extraction; the former American, the latter British). It made such an impression on me; I wanted to re-post it here (delayed by T’s blog being down for a while.)

Excerpt from T’s post:
The other thing I thought was interesting is just how normal a kid he really was. Instead of it feeling like a work/player babysitting assignment, it felt like my mom called me up and asked me to take some friends of hers out in Shanghai. One quick anecdote, when we were walking along the Pudong side of the Pujiang River, Jeremy and his little brother Joseph bought some lasers being sold by the tourist vendors. And in the car on the way back to their hotel, they were shining the lasers all around and at buildings and other cars and their mom went “Jeremy! Joesph! Stop shining lasers!”

Wo Ai: “I’ve absolutely no idea who this guy is but have noticed his name all over Facebook and other sites recently. But those lasers are freaking awesome. From Puxi you can hit the top of the Pearl TV tower easily. And all for between 20-100 RMB depending on how well you haggle.
I saw Madonna on a chat show last week and she was saying how her kids don’t give a damn how big a celebrity she is when they’re at home she’s just mum. I guess that’s a bit like your laser story, but in reverse. And that’s how it should be!”

T: “I suppose the equivalent would be if an Oxford or Cambridge graduate played on his university team, played a few games in his local beer league, got noticed by Sir Alex, called up to ManU, and then after every mid-fielder on Man U got hurt or was playing poorly, got thrown into the game and began to dominate and basically play as well as any big money player for the span of 9 games.”

Wo Ai : “I’ve done some research and I feel less ignorant now as apparently until a few weeks ago most Americans also didn’t know who he was. Thanks for your attempt at explaining it in English terms. I guess it’s like if Christian Ronaldo went to Oxford then. Sort of.”

T: “He’s not quite as dominant as C Ronaldo and he really came out of nowhere, whereas CRonaldo has been known since he was 14 or 15.”

Wo Ai: “Yeah that’s my point, there isn’t really an equivalent in the EPL. Theo Walcott?”

T: “Nah. I don’t think there’s an equivalent in any sport, anywhere. Well, maybe Kurt Warner who was a grocery bagger and playing minor league football (American) and then came off the bench and led the Rams to the Super Bowl. John Starks is another grocery bagger who played for the Knicks in the mid-90s.”

Maybe I should cut Wo Ai some slack; after all T is quite a serious sports nut. Still I give T full props for being able to translate between the sports/cultures (NBA vs EPL) so fluidly!

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