Archives For Jeremy Lin

We live in a reactionary culture; in church, politics, sports, and just about everything in-between. The firing of ESPN’s headline writer Anthony Federico is the latest example of this.

I am the problem.  Here is why.

After New York Knicks’ Jeremy Lin’s first loss as a starter, Federico wrote that there was a “Chink in the chain”.  Jeremy Lin is of Taiwanese descent so to me and many others, the headline was cutesy racism that went overboard and it just made me mad. Here was my reaction on twitter the morning after reading (from other media sources) about the ESPN headline issue:

ESPN getting racist on Jeremy Lin last night. Their lesson? Don’t let drunk frat interns update web content.

This was my reaction.  Instead it was just a “reaction to a reaction” because all I did was pay attention to what everyone else was saying, especially the media, civil rights groups, etc. I joined an online mob.

The ESPN headline writer was fired soon that day.  I learned that Headline writers like Frederico have to come up with quick headlines every few minutes.  Federico claimed that it was an “honest mistake”.  Saturday Night Live did a great job with their sketch highlighting the hypocrisy of who can say what about races and get away with it.

Messages like mine are what puts ESPN in a position to fire someone without learning more and listening to all sides about why this happened. ESPN acted in cowardly fear. They were wrong and I was wrong. Who gets hurt? A promising young career is knocked down in the form of Anthony Federico, the 26-year-old who posted this headline.  Anthony Federico issued this incredible apology after he was fired by ESPN. Read it here. I was impressed with his candor, thoughtfulness, regret, but also a helpful explanation about how it happened.  He happens to be a Christian, which is relevant because I understand more about why he did this.  Jeremy Lin is also a prominent Christian, which makes the media firestorm even worse.

After reading Anthony Federico’s response, it caused me to look deep in the mirror. I failed. I reacted. I was lazy and didn’t take the time to understand all sides of this story. I can think of dozens and dozens of instances where I have jumped to conclusion too quickly and people got hurt. Most of the time I was wrong and should know better. What I learned today is that I should have more of the character of Anthony Federico. I’ll leave you with his words:

My solace in this is that ‘all things work together for good for those who love the Lord.’ I praise God equally in the good times and the bad times.

Anthony, I am sorry. You don’t deserve this. We all owe you this apology. Please forgive us all.

Follow Anthony on twitter, he seems like a great guy. @antfeds

This post is Innovate Like Moneyball Part 2 so try to read that first.

I recently heard a great spot on NPR from Frank DeFord about the fascination with Jeremy Lin, the Asian-American New York Knicks basketball sensation.  Jeremy Lin has become the latest version of Tim Tebow.  Anyone looking at his previous stats would say he was an average backup player to having no chance at an NBA career at all.  Pretty soon, scouts will be saying things about their recruits as having “The Lin Factor”.  It’s that special thing about him that gets fans excited while executing on the court (or field) in an amazing way.

In Moneyball fashion, can a statistician find a Jeremy Lin?

Perhaps, but it would be a long shot and they’d need some divine help. Here is why.

Life and business can be only calculated so much.  I’m asked all the time in marketing from clients how we can have better “quantifiable” results.  It always amuses me because a client definitely wants life to be put together in an organized fashion that they can control like a wizard.  Don’t we all, especially when money and reputation is at stake?

Left photo: Tim Tebow. Credit: Barry Gutierrez / Associated Press Right photo: Jeremy Lin. Credit: Frank Gunn / Associated Press

A statistician would say that people like Doug Flutie, Tim Tebow, or  Jeremy Lin are flukes.  They rose to the occasion when given the chance and delivered but their overall stats might be considered mediocre.

Ultimately life and business should be both about quantifiable and qualitative results.  That is how the best research is done to understand stats and behavior.

Clients say they want the “Lin Factor”,”Apple Factor”, or “Nike Factor” for their brand.

Can you quantify how to get that?  That’s not the point. We should celebrate the statistician and the scout equally.  When working well together, that “Factor” can happen and I’ve seen it time and time again with teams I am a part of.

The result can be “greatness”.  And you know it when you see it.