Today is officially the Chinese New Year. This is a day where I celebrate half of my culture and ethnicity as a half Chinese/Caucasian American.
In case you are uneducated about the rest of the world, the Chinese New Year is the most celebrated holiday in China and it's in January. While the official holiday is only two days(New Year's Day and Eve) the entire country gets about a week off.
Growing up, I too was an Asian athlete like all of the people on this list and had to constantly disprove the following false stereotypes to every single redneck football coach from Texas I've ever had:
1. Asians are short
2. All Asian countries are communist
3. Asians are tiny/weak
4. Asians are nerdy and only book smart
5. Asians can't fight...they only do martial arts
These stereotypes have even kept Asian athletes off of the playing field.
Asian quarterback Timmy Chang, an NCAA record breaker was kept from being a quarterback because he was short. He's 6'1" which is about as tall as many current quarterbacks in the pros, if not maybe an inch short. When asked by scouts about his measurements their pathetic response was that he played short.
After an illustrious college career working alongside Pete Carroll at USC, Norm Chow was kept out of a job for the Tennessee Titans—despite the owner saying all the great things this guy had done.
When asked why he wasn't hired, he said "I didn't know Chow was Chinese!"
This article is about the celebration of Asian athletics, not their low points, but let me just say that the NFL needs to be more like the NBA and allow foreign athletes a chance at least.
Also, In case you didn't know: Martial arts these days are done by rich white guys who can't fight and have problems—like being short or weak.
In Asia, it's not a sport—it's a heritage and it's self defense—but the average Chinese person doesn't have the moves of Jackie Chan.
The four stereotypes that Asians are weak, short, tiny, and nerdy will be answered by this top 10 list of current Asian athletes (not just Chinese ones):
10. Yani Tseng (Taiwan)—She's like Michelle Wie but superior in every single way. With just one and a half years of experience, she already has three professional wins as opposed to Wie's three years without any professional wins. A winner of the LGPA championship, you cannot find another women golfer that's as on-fire as she is.
9. Vijay Singh (Fiji)—Singh has gotten better in his forties—not worse. He already holds the title for the most wins after turning forty, including last year’s FedEx Cup to recognize the PGA’s top golfer on the tour. But even if he stopped playing tomorrow, he’d still retire with 34 wins and 175 Top 10 finishes in 403 career events.
8. Yi Jianlian (China)—An incredibly talented and hardworking forward. He has the physique and nearly everything to succeed in the NBA. He's not as talented as many Asian athletes like Yao but he has everything else and might join the ranks of Yao in popularity and respect even if he's not as talented.
7. Daisuke Matsuzaka (Japan)—The 100-Million-Dollar-Man has pitched very well, after being very average last year. But he’s challenging Ichiro for the title of "Most Popular Asian Baseball Player,"—and he certainly plays for a far better team. If he were the No. 1 starter for the Boston Red Sox he might be ranked higher.
6. Hines Ward (Korean descent)—I really wanted to put him higher. A Korean descendant, Hines Wards' roots are a bit confusing. Such a physical man might not be thought of as Asian—but only if you were an ignorant redneck inbreeding racist.
The four-time pro bowler and a Super Bowl MVP will have another chance come Sunday to raise himself higher. The only thing keeping him at No. 6 is that there are athletes with more gold medals than pro bowls ranked higher.
5. Yang Wei (China)—10 Olympic gold medals says it all. Why so low? Well he's umm...a male gymnast—even if he does have 15 total Olympic medals.
4. Liu Xiang (China)—He only has five Olympic gold medals and nine total medals, but he's a real athlete—one of the best Olympic hurdlers in the entire world. Famous for a low profile appearance, Liu is still one of the most popular Chinese and Asian athletes.
3. Ichiro Suzuki (Japan)—He's know by only one name—ICHIRO—an eight-time consecutive Golden Glove winner and MLB All-Star. There is hardly a force in baseball that is as amazing or unstoppable as Ichiro. Unlike some pitchers, Ichiro has great batting and hitting prowess.
He broke the hitting record with 262 hits in 2001 and in 2004 he was the batting champion. The only thing you could complain about Ichiro is that he is on the Mariners—a team that hasn't nor will they ever win a championship. Ichiro is another player who has suffered because of fans ignoring the huge case for parity and a salary cap in the MLB.
2. Yao Ming (China)—Is there anyone as tall as Yao MingIn the history of the NBA or North American sports? At 7'6", it's a wonder how he doesn't have gigantism. He may be big, but he has as much finesse as power.
Yao is as famous and popular as any athlete in China and has been an NBA star from the time he was drafted by Houston with the #1 overall pick. He has been an NBA star every single year and has been selected to be an All-Star during four of those six years.
1. Tiger Woods (Chinese/Thai descent)—The only case for him not being the greatest athlete ever would be the sport he chose to dominate in—some consider it not to be a sport. I have not met a sane man who doesn't think he's the greatest golfer ever. A cultural mishmash, his roots are incredibly unclear and cloudy but what is for certain is that many of his roots are Asian ones.
What have we learned...
1. The NFL needs to let Asian athletes and coaches have a real chance. Even support them and the NFL could be more wealthy and popular than they already are. The only real Asian athletes are half-black so you can hardly notice, see: Hines Ward.
2. Once upon a time, African Americans were discriminated but they turned out to be not only as good as white athletes but better. Sports like the MLB and the NBA need to continue what they are doing and the NFL needs to follow in their footsteps. The U.S. isn't the only country in the world and we don't want any of our sports to lose to the grass fairy sport—Soccer—in world wide popularity.
3. Chinese people are as good as everybody else—if not better.