Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise

The Political Footballization Of Jeremy Lin Has Begun

The subtle jabs started with last week's NMA animation showing Jeremy Lin throwing flaming basketballs at Yao Ming, and the Taiwanese media outfit released a new video today that plays up Lin's heritage with the prominent inclusion of the flag of the Republic of China.


And now we get a news report from the Chinese mainland in which the lurking political subtext becomes visible: As Lin chats awkwardly with Taiwanese president Ma Ying-jeu, in a video from 2010, a floating field of digital blur-out keeps threatening to devour him. The blur-cloud is there to cover up that same Republic of China flag. Though cross-straits relations have improved in recent years, the People's Republic of China doesn't recognize Taiwan's legitimacy, and vice versa.

So Jeremy Lin—born in America to emigrants from Taiwan with ancestral roots on the mainland—is contested territory. Chinese social media sites are flooded with video tributes to Lin, many of them from Taiwanese TV with the network logo clumsily cropped or blurred out. (It's unclear if this editing is being done by the uploaders, by the sites hosting the videos, or by the PRC government itself.) In the post-Yao world, he's a new favorite son for China, whichever version of China can claim him.