In today’s world, we see Asian American Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander individuals working in different professional spaces — as professional athletes, on television, in movies, or making music. However, it is still important to increase the visibility of AANHPI people in those roles.
The Institute for Diversity and Equity in Sport (TIDES) reported in 2019-20, .07 percent of athletes in Division I Women’s basketball were of Asian descent. A staggering stat when you consider that there are over 20 million AANHPI people who live in the U.S. There are a few reasons for this that many have hypothesized, but those theories play into stereotypes and other harmful ideas for AANHPI people and are rooted in the unfortunate treatment of AANHPI individuals that has occurred for decades in this country.
As previously stated, there is a slim population of AANHPI athletes, even less in professional sports. There are a few dozen AANHPI athletes on the LPGA tour, including Mina Harigae, Michelle Wie West, and Tiffany Joh, who have been vocal about their heritage and position as professional golfers, especially about their own personal safety while traveling.
“It was kind of a sad day when my mom was like, ‘Should we start carrying around pepper spray?’” Joh said in an article in New York Times.
In college softball, one of the biggest names is Jocelyn Alo, a utility player on Oklahoma’s softball team. Alo, a native of Hawaii, broke the record for most home runs in NCAA history with 96. We’ve also seen AANHPI individuals on the business side, like Kim Ng, who became the first woman to be a general manager for a major league baseball team when she announced her new role with the Miami Marlins.
There is one sport however that AANHPI children dominate — The National Spelling Bee. What has been considered a sport is any type of activity that involves skill. Contrary to popular belief, while spelling contests are more of a mental game, they involve practice and competition as well as extensive knowledge and skill. Children of Asian descent have won the National Spelling Bee Championship every year from 2008 to 2020.
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