How do you become an “overnight” sports superstar?

How do you become an “overnight” sports superstar?

He may not look like a typical professional basketball player, but Jeremy Lin is living up to “Linsanity,” the phrase he’s inspired with his stellar play in the NBA.

The National Post’s Bruce Arthur captured the phenomenon that is Lin: “But right now the Jeremy Lin story is about how in a society full of nonsense and noise, of fizz and vapour, of pretty colours and manufactured products, we ache for real magic.”

What magic, you ask? Lin is only 6 feet, 3 inches, much shorter than most professional basketball players. He’s also Asian American. When he was 10 years old, you can be sure no one would have guessed he could be an NBA star. He just didn’t look like one.


What parents can learn from the Jeremy Lin phenomenon

Lin actually emerged as a great player later in his high school days, but no one offered him a basketball scholarship. He ended up playing for Harvard, which is not known for its basketball program, and the NBA didn’t draft him when he graduated in 2010.

That didn’t stop him from trying out, but with little success. He was cut from two NBA teams and had been sleeping on the couch in his brother’s apartment when the New York Knicks gave him a contract.

But he was sitting on the bench until a couple of weeks ago, when injuries to his teammates gave him a chance to play. And then the magic began.

First he led the Knicks to six straight wins, scoring 38 points against the famed L.A. Lakers along the way.

Like many sport stars, Lin also excels at other sports. This video of his performance in a Harvard flag football championship game from a few years ago has gone viral.

Recipe to raising an “overnight” superstar like Jeremy Lin:

  1. Don’t worry about image, help your child master their skills
    “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” is an appropriate cliché. There are many examples of athletes who don’t look typical for their sport but are terrific players (Theo Fleury and Marty St. Louis were too small for the NHL, Doug Flutie and Drew Brees are too short to be quarterbacks). Guide your child in learning good movement skills and developing the right attitude.
  2. Develop a good, overall athlete
    Playing many sports into your early teens, instead of specializing in one, helps to develop balanced, strong, all-around athletes. That’s a great asset no matter what sport someone chooses to specialize in later in life. And kids who play sports are more well-rounded in life, too. They achieve better in school, for example. Jeremy Lin attended Harvard to major in economics. Need we say more?
  3. Make the most of your child’s love of sport
    Jeremy is also an example of how different athletes grow and develop at different rates. In fact, Jeremy was what doctors call a “late developer” – he had a growth spurt in his late teenage years – which may be one reason he went under the radar for so long. It’s especially true of kids. If a child likes a sport, they should have the opportunity to play it. Don’t let people say they are too small or don’t look like a player. The child who practices hard and has fun will be able to show how far their talent can take them.
  4. Go with what motivates your kid
    The Jeremy Lin story is a magical one. But children who are having fun, and who are motivated to practice and improve, will go farther than even they might imagine. Kids play sports for many reasons, but above all they like having fun and knowing that they are getting better. And that’s where the magic lives.
Originally published on March 30, 2012. Updated on May 26, 2019

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