For this assignment, each student will submit one news item they have come across during the week which is relevant to topics covered in the class. This current event can span popular culture, politics, international relations, economics, and many more aspects of Asian/America and Asian/American identity and relations. Consider what is most important to you in terms of what you hope to learn by taking this course – in other words, you’ll gain most from exploring current events in which you have a personal stake.
Post your current event to the designated discussion board on Canvas. For each post provide the following:
A link to the story online
A short, 200-word summary of what happened
A brief 300-word reflection of how the event is connected to material and discussion we have had in class.
1-2 questions OR responses this story prompts for you about what “Asian/America(n)” means and why Asian/American studies matters.
You may pull your current events from any credible news source, such as the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and other newspapers and magazines or televised news sites. You may also pull from popular blogs and smaller media outlets. Some that I find useful includeAsian American News (Links to an external site.), Hyphen magazine (Links to an external site.), the Huffington Post’s Asian American Voices (Links to an external site.), Angry Asian Man (Links to an external site.), and Colorlines (Links to an external site.). I welcome you to use these, but encourage you to search widely and pay attention to news sources that are relevant to your personal, academic, and career-oriented interests. The news that you found must be trusted and over 800 words.
Please do not forget the link the news source website to me.
“Filipinos make up a third of the Golden State Warriors Facebook fans” (Links to an external site.)
Summary (~200 words)
In this story on the blog Asian American News, Ed Diokno reports that the NBA’s Golden State Warriors, located in Oakland, CA, have 2 million Facebook fans from the Philippines. With more than 5.6 million Facebook fans overall, more than one third are based in the Philippines.
The team, which boasts no Filipino American players on its roster, has responded to their large Filipino audience with social media posts in Tagalog and by imitating other Filipino advertising campaigns such as the catchy “Thank you thank you very much” jingle. Diokno cites Dan Reed, the head of global sports partnerships at Facebook, who says that “In the last six months the Warriors have engaged with more people on Facebook than any professional sports team in the United States.”
In addition to engaged with their Filipino fans abroad, the team has capitalized on its large Filipino American fan base, many of whom call the Bay Area home. Early in the 2015-16 season, the Warriors’ their first “ethnic night,” Filipino Heritage Night. They gave away t-shirts depicting the Philippine sunburst (as seen on the national flag) superimposed with the teams logo, the Bay Bridge, in the center. The team wore these t-shirts during pre-game warm up. This t-shirt has been incredibly popular in the Philippines as well.
The Warriors have been notable because they are one of the few NBA teams that has capitalized on an Asian American fan base as well as an international Asian fan base, largely motivated by the demographics of their location rather than the celebrity of their players (unlike teams such as the Houston Rockets, New York Knicks, and LA Lakers whose players have included Yao Ming and Jeremy Lin).
Reflection (~300 words)
Usually, sports are believed to be culturally neutral, and being a sports fan is assumed to have very little to do with your race or ethnicity, but more to do with your geography and maybe familial connections. In this story, we see that the Golden State Warriors deliberately target their marketing and make efforts to connect with both Filipino American and international Filipino fans. More than this, their motivation seems to be based on the actual populations of their fans in the Bay Area rather than on the identity of any of their players.* This is unlike how the New York Knicks used the identity of Jeremy Lin to appeal to Asian American audience or the Houston Rockets used Yao Ming to appeal to an international Chinese audience. The Filipino Heritage Night home game is described as the Warriors’ first ethnic night, implying that they will likely have more, perhaps appealing to other Asian ethnicities. This marketing strategy makes sense, given then the Bay Area is home to more than 2 million Asian Americans, many of whom will have strong ties abroad. The marketing strategy also seems to come from a genuine interest in the fans and gratitude for their support, as it has been accompanied by and sustained through visits to the Philippines by team members as well as the dance team, such as Stephen Curry’s summer tour. The article helps us think about how race and ethnicity are not only pervasive in politics and in personal experiences of the world, but can have a wider influence, even if sometimes a subtle one. We can come to understand that even our most basic decisions and personal preferences, such as our fandom, are a product of cultural forces rather than simply what or who we like.
*Although two of the women on the Warrior’s dance team and one woman in the team’s upper management identify as Filipina American, these are not recognizable figures who would draw a large fan following.
**I also fully acknowledge that the popularity of the Golden State Warriors may also be due to the fact that they won the 2015 NBA Championship. Based on personal observation, I know that teams such as the LA Lakers, the Miami Heat, and the San Antonio Spurs have been very popular in the Philippines during their reigns as the top ranked team(s).
Discussion Questions (2-3):
1. How do sports and athletics participate in creating feelings of belonging and exclusion? What does that have to do with Asian American studies?
2. Can you think of other ways that sports engage in shaping our ideas of race, class, gender, sexuality, and nation? (Beyond what you have read in this article.)
3. Are sports political? Why or why not?
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