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Asian American women in professional sports has always been a struggle in the media. Asian American males has somewhat made a slight appearance of success in sports media but not so much for women. There are some famous Asian athletes out there such as Yao Ming, Jeremy Lin, and Michael Chang who have made a name for themselves. It seems that it is hard already for Asian Americans to strive in professional sports, but it is even harder for Asian American women to strive because they are simply women. The media has portrayed men’s sports to be more interesting to watch and has created most of the attention towards them. Few people are interest in watching women sports which makes it harder for Asian American women to be noticed in sports. Asian American women are also brought up with the mindset that they have a slim chance in making it in professional sports because of how the media portrays them which is why there are so little of them that wants to strive in sports.
Before writing this essay, I searched online for articles, statistics, and facts about this topic. I realized that there were very limited information out there regarding this issue. I also got the idea that not only are Asian American woman not being in professional sports is a problem, but the bigger problem is that people just don’t care about this issue. I noticed that Wikipedia has only 82 pages of 82 different API women who has competed in professional sports. This is not a staggering number for 82 women in all of US history is only a drop in the ocean. I figured out that the majority of these sports are not contact sports such as golf, tennis, skating, and gymnastics.
I believe that if anyone puts their mind to something, they can achieve whatever they want. I feel like Asian American women just limit their minds to what sports they will play and are capable of playing. It’s not that they aren’t physically capable to play the game, but they are mentally incapable. In the 2008 Olympics, China women’s basketball team placed 4th overall. which is one shy from a medal as well as beating 7 other non Asian countries. So physically, Asian woman can compete in sports. Americans have just created the stereotype that Asian women have smaller builds that make them disadvantages in the more physical sports. This is why Asian American women automatically choose to focus on non physical but finesse sports.
Needless to say, there are actually some very successful API women athletes that has made an appearance in the media. The was actually one Asian women from China who made it into the WNBA. She was the first and Before Yao Ming, or before any Asian that have appeared in professional basketball, there was Zheng Haixia. She was the first Chinese player to ever play pro basketball stateside. The only reason she was as popular as Yao Ming, or Jeremy Lin was simply because Haixia is a woman. The 6-8, 250lb center from China is arguably the undisputed best woman player to come out of China. Due to her tremendous size, Haixia was always slow of foot, but the great equalizer was her all around efficiency around the basket. Zheng always got her points with slow and steady efficiency as she was named the MVP of the 1994 Women’s World Championships. She averaged 26.4 points, 13.1 rebounds on an astounding 83.5% from the field.
In 1997, during the inaugural WNBA season, Zheng led the league in field goal% with 61.8% as Isabelle Fijalkowski was a distant second with 50.8%. During that same season, she scored a season-high, spark-high of 28 points on June 27 against Sacramento and also had 10 rebounds and 3 blocks. She set a Spark’s individual scoring record later tied by Lisa Leslie in the same season and since surpassed several times over. She is probably one of the most successful and talented API women who ever played in a contact sport. Another very well known athlete is Kristi Yamaguchi who skated her way to a gold medal at the 1992 Olympic Games in Albertville. She also went on to be one of the most beloved ice skaters in America despite being an Asian American women. Yamaguchi was born with a foot condition and started skating to strengthen her feet and ankles.
She followed with individual victories at the 1991 and 1992 World Figure Skating Championships and the 1992 U.S. Nationals. Winning the 1992 Olympic gold-medal performance made her the first Asian American woman to win a gold medal in any sport. The thing about the skating world is that someone can win in a competition but still may not have as many endorsement because they are Asian. This just shows that no matter how talented you are, people are still going to judge their favorites based on what they are used to seeing and what kind of people they like. This puts API women in a bad spot because Most people in America are accustomed to only seeing Caucasians or African Americans as their surrounding athletes. This is a big reason why Asian American women are portrayed as a disadvantage in professional sports.