Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Reading the Jeremy Lin Story

The Jeremy Lin phenomenon has spurred more than enough virtual and real conversation. Amazingly, it even brought out David Brooks' heretofore unknown affinity for Rav Soloveitchik. I wish only to add one footnote of Jewish interest.

I think part of what makes the Lin storyline so compelling is something beyond the triumph of the underdog. Of course that is a big piece, but what Brooks and others have picked up on is Jeremy Lin's refreshing humility. And this humility is all the more notable when held up against the backdrop of a sport that has made self-aggrandizement its governing ethic. Almost without knowing it, we've been waiting for this moment - a moment in which a Jeremy Lin comes along and raises us out of professional sports epoch that suffers from such a tragic role model deficit.

It is no accident that the Torah's greatest man is also its humblest. In Judaism, the value of humility cannot be overstated. It is a quality best begotten experientially - either through lived experiences that remind us of the yawning chasm between who we are and who we are capable of becoming - or through exposure to people who are genuinely humble. If Jeremy Lin is such a person, his contribution to our generation will be a great one.

I hope the Jeremy Lin phenomenon is powerful enough to shake up the entire sports world. What a boon to society it would be if the heroes whose names adorn the jerseys of so many sports fans were actually possessed of qualities worthy of being called heroic.

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