8.22.2008

chinese americans and the perceived value of sports

With China leading the gold medal count at these Olympic Games, it's pretty evident that China has grown to be an international athletic powerhouse. The New York Times ran this interesting article the other day on generational differences among Chinese Americans' attitudes towards sports and its role in a child's upbringing: Among Chinese-Americans, a Split on Sports.

One view, particularly common among first-generation, working-class Chinese Americans (and probably among other Asians, for that matter), maintains that sports are an unnecessary impediment to academic and professional achievement, according to interviews with Chinese American athletes, students, educators and community leaders in New York.

An opposite view, typically held by more educated parents or those who have become more assimilated into American culture because they have been in the United States at least one generation, promotes sports as an integral part of a child's maturation.

I can only speak from my own experience. I've never been much of an athlete. As a kid, I really loathed physical activity. But while academics were always the top priority, my first-generation immigrant parents were always signing me up for stuff like tae kwon do, tennis and swimming lessons, probably out of fear that I would rot away on the couch watching TV.

Today, I can't say that I'm any good at tae kwon do, tennis or swimming (I suck at all of these sports, and then some), but I can say that those experiences did make me a more well-rounded person. Or something like that.