With the Harbaugh Brothers Super Bowl Sunday fast approaching, I find myself wondering, how many sports fans can name an Asian American football player?
While Pacific Islanders have seen amazing success in the sport, (there are a handful of players on the Super Bowl roster of PI heritage), the Asian American population remains sadly under represented.
So why aren't Asian Americans, who represent the nation's fastest growing population, more visible in this "All American" game? Some sports marketers site a few reasons for this lack of representation, including racial barriers and a lack of parental interest and support of the sport (or sports in general). Stereotypes certainly exist, and a misconception that still pervades our sports culture is that Asian Americans are physically inferior to whites and African Americans and belong in a classroom rather than on the field.
Nothing, of course, could be further from the truth. To quote former Indian American NFL player and Super Bowl winner Brandon Chillar, "We have some big dudes too." The former linebacker for the Green Bay Packers is now using his knowledge and talent for the game in a new venture with the Elite Football League of India. Chillar joins the likes of football greats Mike Ditka and Kurt Warner in an effort to introduce American sports to the large consumer base in India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. On top of these endeavors, Chillar recently loaned a variety of artifacts for our upcoming exhibition, Beyond Bollywood: Indian Americans Shape the Nation. Artifacts include his Green Bay Packers helmet (pictured above) and jersey. Click here to view photos of them.
With these efforts to tackle stereotypes, perhaps we'll be seeing more diversity on our "All American" fields.
-A message from Curator Masum Momaya