Since the World Baseball Classic (WBC) at the beginning of this year (2023), Taiwanese-American Corbin Carroll has attracted the attention of Taiwanese media and fans. As the Arizona Diamondbacks entered the World Series, “Kazai ”’s skills and identity have once again attracted discussion among Taiwanese fans. He has an unprecedented record of 25 home runs and more than 50 stolen bases in his rookie season. His all-around skills include strength and speed. No matter which team joins him, he will definitely be an enviable player.
A Korean-American reporter’s report on “Taiwanese players”
Before the start of the World Series, an article from the official MLB website titled “Carroll ticking off more milestones in breakout campaign” was quoted by many domestic media. The second paragraph of the article mentioned that he “is believed to be the first Taiwanese-American to appear in the World Series.” The wording of this report is conservative and the word “believed to be” is used because the United States, as an immigrant society, has a rich and diverse racial mix. What’s more, the major leagues have held a World Series between the two leagues since 1903, which lasted more than 100 years. Looking at history, who can guarantee that among the thousands of players who have appeared before, no player with a trace of Taiwanese ancestry has performed?
Under this widely circulated report, some fans left a message of “Stop messing with me!”, thinking that this was another masterpiece of Taiwanese media insisting on “pretending to be familiar” with Carroll. However, these reports are indeed translated articles from the official website of the Major League Baseball. Therefore, some sports news editors are not willing to be humiliated and simply tell the fans that these reports are articles translated from the official website of the Major League Baseball. Does “the Major League Baseball also want to mess with it?”
Before entering the next level of discussion, it is actually helpful to understand the background of the author of the report on the MLB official website.
The author of the article, Doh-Hyoung Park, wrote in the profile column of his Instagram account: “Korea born, Minnesota raised, Bay Area built. Down with the University of California.” Beat Cal.) In just one line, he expresses the diverse experiences of his growth experience. Park Do-hyung studied chemical engineering at Stanford University, but eventually became a team reporter for the Minnesota Twins of the Major League Baseball League. The last sentence of his introduction was the “choke” of a Stanford University alumnus against the rival University of California, which shows that after graduation, he Still loyal to his alma mater through sports; through the previous sentences, it is not difficult to understand his motivation for using this angle to approach Carroll, who is also of East Asian descent.
Therefore, this is indeed not an article deliberately written by a Taiwanese reporter, foreign editor, or editor, or even a report by a reporter with a similar background to Carroll. However, the comments from Taiwanese readers reflect Taiwanese readers’ distrust of the news media in this era, as well as their expectation of a relatively single national identity.
Jeremy Lin’s indescribable identity
In February 2012, facing Jeremy Lin with a similar background, Taiwan also collectively experienced this schizophrenic period of “rejection and acceptance”, from the “Taiwanese-American” player at Harvard University to Lin Laiwen ( Linsanity’s “Light of Taiwan” during its popularity, we saw Taiwan facing the conflicting emotions of these Taiwanese athletes who are both us and not ours. We were deeply afraid that our wishful thinking would end up with a hot face but a cold butt, so we showed self-restraint in the early stages. , hesitate, wait until the external objective time is mature, and then embrace the process with all your strength.
In February 2012, Jeremy Lin became famous with the New York Knicks. At first, the Taiwanese media and netizens were hesitant about such a gift from the sky. Although there were sporadic reports in the Taiwanese media during Jeremy Lin’s time at Harvard, he was after all ” There is a gap between Wang Jianmin, who was born in Tainan, grew up in Tainan, and raised in New York, and Yongrong. The media was still skeptical and hesitant about Jeremy Lin’s emotional projection until he now serves as the Beijing bureau of The New York Times. The report by then Hong Kong Special Commissioner Keith Bradsher on February 15, 2012 was relieved. This article connects Jeremy Lin to the land of Taiwan through the perspective of his mother, Ms. Zhu Amian. For Taiwan, it is undoubtedly the certification from the authoritative media in the United States. Since then, the Taiwanese media has embraced him and Taiwan. The link, Video Sports Channel’s NBA broadcast also focused on the team that Jeremy Lin plays for.
Jeremy Lin has become a projection of Taiwan’s identity, and he has been a part of the NBA Taiwan from San Francisco, New York, Houston, Los Angeles, Charlotte, Brooklyn, Atlanta, and finally Toronto; after nine years of NBA career, he has been under COVID-19 During the epidemic, he chose to play in the Chinese Men’s Basketball Professional League (CBA) and even said, “Going back to China to play is like going home,” reflecting the embarrassment and tension in relations between Taiwan and China. He finally came to Taiwan and almost defeated the Kaohsiung Steelers with one hand last year. The magic that led to the playoffs, and the reunion drama with his younger brother Jeremy Lin on the same team this season, finally allowed the two parallel lines of Taiwan and Jeremy Lin to truly intersect. But even so, even though he officially obtained a Taiwanese passport during the epidemic, it is still rare to hear Jeremy Lin publicly talking about his profound identification with Taiwan. There may be traces to this.
At the end of 2012, just as the “Linsanity” of the Knicks era was fading away, Sports Illustrated published an article by Chinese-American writer Albert. The article “The Politicization of Jeremy Lin” written by Chen describes Jeremy Lin’s statement on his identity: “I have great-grandparents and grandparents who were born and raised in China; my parents were born and raised in Taiwan I was born and raised in the United States. Who am I? There’s a lot of history behind it.” (I have great-grandparents and grandparents who were born and raised in China. My parents were born and raised in Taiwan. And I was born and raised in America. There’s a lot of history behind who I am.)
Just as his Korean identity led Park Do-hyung to write Carroll’s report, I believe the similarity in background also led Albert. Chen single-handedly cuts to the heart of Jeremy Lin’s identity. Today’s identities are diverse, dynamic, and even unstable. Jeremy Lin’s life history does not mean that Carroll will also experience it–compared to Jeremy Lin, “Kazai” doesn’t even have a Chinese name! It has been 11 years since Linsanity broke out, and Taiwanese fans are even more hostile to the discussion of kinship. Even the report on Major League Baseball’s official website can’t quell the reputation.
Multiple identities are both assets and burdens
Everyone’s identity does not need to be responsible for others, but as athletes, in this dichotomous sports field of either my race or others, their unspoken ambiguity may be their deliberate strategy, or they may still be explore. As fans, we must also understand that blood is no longer the only projection of identity. In the 2023 World Baseball Classic, Lars Nootbaar and Thomas Hyunsu Edman represent Japan and South Korea respectively. But behind their choice, there is also a layer of cultural identity, which may be the more important detail when we discuss these “non-native” athletes.
When Nootba, who is of mixed Japanese and American descent, was 9 years old, he served as a caddy for the Japanese national youth baseball team in the U.S. tournament with famous players such as Masahiro Tanaka and Yuki Saito, and even invited them to his home. This is how the seeds of connection with his mother’s homeland were sown, and the famous “pepper shaker” cheering gesture was adopted during this year’s WBC. As for Edelman, his mother was born in South Korea, and he chose to compete for South Korea. His middle name is “Hyunsu” (Hyunsu). ) has left clues. Interestingly, his wife Kristen is Japanese-American, and he joked that she was not allowed to cheer for Japan during the war between Japan and South Korea. When the diversity of national identities meets a playing field divided into enemies and friends, some unqualified and forced choices are inevitable.
In the international sports arena, national identity recognition is becoming increasingly flexible and relaxed, especially in the WBC dominated by the major leagues. Bruce Chen has represented Panama and China, and Alex Rodriguez has represented the United States and the Dominican Republic. Canada and Marcus Stroman have represented the United States and Puerto Rico in the WBC in 2017 and 2023 respectively. In the World Cup football field, there are the Boateng brothers (Jérôme Boateng (Germany) and Kevin-Prince Boateng (Ghana)) and the Williams brothers (Inaki Williams (Ghana) and Nico Williams (Spain)), each with their own unique characteristics. Examples of playing for the national team.
Paolo Banchero, the No. 1 pick in the 2022 NBA draft, also “betrayed” his original promise to Italy and chose to represent the United States in this year’s World Cup, causing criticism from the Italian Basketball Association. There will only be more and more cases like this. These athletes can roam freely and even become global citizens. However, we must understand that although multiple identities are assets, they also carry more baggage. Anyone with multiple identities Far from being the problem, it’s the rules of today’s sport that force them to make a choice.
Are there really so-called “authentic” Taiwanese?
Who can represent us? Everyone has their own customized ruler in their hearts. Words such as “native” and “Zhenggong” often imply expectations for orthodoxy and purity. But Taiwan is not an immigrant society that is becoming increasingly diverse. What is a truly “upright” Taiwan? Or, have we ever been truly pure?
If Carroll joins the Taiwanese baseball team, all fans will undoubtedly be happy to see it. The improvement in combat power will not be a problem, but what feelings does he have for this land and this team? Although he mentioned in the interview that he visited Hualien and Taipei with his mother when he was 13 years old, but what about other than that? Can we convince him with culture and emotion? As his performance in the major leagues becomes more and more dazzling, it may be more difficult to recruit him, but if he is such a powerful fighter and is proud of his Taiwanese identity, then why not bother with it or even recruit him more actively?
【Long Game】column introduction
Sports is the evolution of a civilization. Under norms and frameworks, wild competition and conflict are sublimated into skills of strength and beauty.
Sports are also an economic stimulus. With the development of agricultural society, industrial society, and capital market, it connects common people’s consumption with high-end boutique products.
Sports is a confrontation between nationalism and individualism. Under the shared sense of collective glory, we constantly think about the core spirit and meaning of competition.
The social nature of sports and the mobility of society are an eternal “Long Game” in which human love, hate, hustle and bustle, and contemporary values will continue to be fought and argued for forever.
Long Game, the sports column of “The Reporter”, is written by Chen Zixuan, a professor at the Institute of Physical Education of the National Sport University and an American professional baseball analyst whose research expertise is sports sociology, popular culture and media observation.