New York Knicks guard Jeremy Lin was the NBA’s latest craze for the month of February, due to his outstanding play that made the “Big Apple” relevant in the Eastern Conference—better yet—in the league.
Other than carrying the burden of dealing with bias and racist stereotypes as a 6’3”, 200-pound Asian-American who is performing well in a sport dominated by athletic African-Americans, Lin is hauling another prejudice as a Harvard graduate being a good professional athlete. So, let’s keep this Harvard thing going; Who will be the next Crimson to star in professional sports?
When individuals think of Harvard, such words like intelligence, commitment to excellence in education, genius, nerd (to name a few) comes to mind (no disrespect, but true). Some individuals believe it is nearly impossible to be accepted into Harvard due to the institution’s academic requirements.
Great educated and non-graduated minds can come from anywhere. However, Harvard, along with other Ivy League institutions, specializes in brilliance, as they produce giants in occupations that require intelligence.
In terms of sports and professional athletes, stereotypically, Harvard is out of its league, and their student athletes are normally passed over because, physically, they are no match for the giants of physical brilliance.
Is Lin a sign of change? Not in personal bias and stereotypes because, unfortunately, those things will always be. Nonetheless, he may signal a change in how Harvard student athletes are viewed.
To Watch Out For
Alex Gideon was a 6’2” 230-pound senior linebacker for Harvard last season and was the team captain, voted by his teammates. The Ohio native led his team (second is the Ivy League) with 92 tackles and forced five turnovers: three interceptions, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.
Gedeon received several awards for his play at Harvard, as he was named a first team selection for All-Ivy League and a part of the All-New England Team, selected by the New England Football Writer's Association. Gedoen capped his final defensive snap for Harvard with an 32-yard interception for a touchdown.
Cornerback Matthew Hanson has been a solid contributor for Harvard since day one for the institution, as he earned an honorable mention for Rookie of the Year in 2008. The 6’1” 185-pound defensive back was selected by the New England Football Writer's Association for the All-New England team and was unanimously selected for first team All-Ivy League.
Hanson led the Ivy League with 10 pass breakups for the 2011 season and was a field and track captain in high school.
Neither Gedeon nor Hanson is on any NFL team’s radar, but if given an opportunity, both players could be a diamond in the rough.
Harvard basketball has made the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 66 years. Could senior forward Keith Wright be the institution’s next headliner in the NBA?
Wright was named to the Wooden Award Preseason Top 50 Watch List.
Harvard has experienced great success on the professional playing field through their former student athletes.
Who Made It Happen
-Buffalo Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick fought hard throughout his NFL career to finally get the opportunity to be a full-time starting signal caller. In 2011, Fitzpatrick signed a six-year extension with the Bills worth $59 million, including $24 million guaranteed, as he has registered 10,936 passing yards.
-Baltimore Ravens center Matt Birk is a six-time Pro Bowler and won the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award in 2012.
-Tennis player James Blake was ranked as high as number four in the world.
-Most notably, golf legend Bobby Jones was the only golfer to win every major in a single year.
Since the NFL and the NBA had players in their headlines that represents Harvard University this past year, will Major League Baseball (MLB) be next? Harvard has one player in the Majors, and that’s pitcher Frank Herrmann, 27, of the Cleveland Indians. Could Herrmann make waves for the 2012 MLB season? Stay tuned!
In about four years from now, keep an eye out for a four-star recruit who committed to Harvard to play for their men’s basketball team in Zena Edosomwan. The 6’9,” 225-pound forward from California turned down scholarship offers from USC, Texas, Washington, UCLA, and UC Berkeley.
There is no surprise that Harvard’s own professional athletes excel in positions on the field and on the court, as sports require great decision-making.
Harvard will continue to be a powerhouse institution for the world of business, law and medicine. Hopefully, the bias and stereotypes of their student athletes will change as they look to have major success on the field in professional sports.
So, who is next, Harvard?