Unless you’ve been living under a rock, chances are that you’ve heard of NBA player Jeremy Lin and his meteoric rise to stardom. Failing to acquire athletic scholarships, Lin attended Harvard on the basis of academic merit. Looked over in the 2010 draft, Lin has ultimately become the “the first NBA player to score at least 20 points and have seven assists in each of his first five starts.”
“I need to get a Jeremy Lin jersey. This dude [is] making all nerds proud!” – Doug Baldwin, Stanford ’11, wide receiver, Seattle Seahawks
While his tale is certainly one of dedication and personal triumph, I think the reason that Lin’s success has so resonated with the Stanford crowd is that his story is a victory for nerds everywhere. Reflecting on Stanford’s current dose of Linsanity, I quickly realized that Jeremy Lin isn’t the only “nerd” taking the sports world by storm – Stanford athletes throughout professional and Olympic sports demonstrate the true importance of smarts and dedication.
Join me as I trace the stories of a few of our favorite Stanford nerdthletes.
#RevengeOfTheNerds and the Seattle Seahawks:
It’s difficult to overcome misconceptions about athletes from elite universities in the professional sports world. Former Stanford cornerback Richard Sherman once said, “I feel like people give us the short end of the stick a lot of times because of the academics. They assume you’re slow, they assume you don’t have explosive players, you don’t have the best athletes, because of the academic standards.”
He and fellow former Stanford teammate Doug Baldwin have been working hard to overcome these prejudices ever since they signed with the Seahawks. Indeed, per the Seattle Sports Hub, “they’ve done nothing since then but prove beyond any doubt that they belong in the NFL just as much as any guy drafted in the top 10 of any draft in the last decade at least.”
Sherman and his fellow Stanford athletes have embraced the “nerd” label, promoting the use of the “Revenge of the Nerds” battle cry from Twitter to the stadium. With his inspiring personal story, determination (his twitter bio reads: “I lead by example / Confidence is a Prerequisite for Success”), and undeniable star power, role model Sherman is showing the next generation of scholars and athletes that it’s possible to be both.
Landry, Jeremy, and the art of Linning:
One of my favorite viral videos of late is that of Landry Fields‘ (Stanford ’10) and Jeremy Lin‘s (Harvard ’10) infamous pre-game handshake. Both players for the New York Knicks, the duo “may comprise the most intelligent starting backcourt in NBA history” (Mercury News). They apparently knew one another prior to becoming teammates, but have bonded over their shared academic experiences and Christian background.
Back to the handshake, the Huffington Post puts it best: ”Not doing much to alter opinions about them being the team’s nerds, Lin and Fields have been using a handshake that seems more apt to be used at a MENSA meeting than an AAU game.” According to Jeremy Lin’s marketing manager, Allen Lu, the shake involves: “flipping through a Bible, taking off their glasses, tucking them away in their pocket protectors… [then] pointing and glancing upwards giving props to God.” For a professional sport too often rife with scandal, these two are a breath of fresh air – and they’re darn good.
Kudos to Lin, Sherman, and their nerdy athlete brethren. May the geeks inherit the earth.