Image courtesy of Cornell University
When I saw Jeff’s blog post on Gonzaga Basketball Players Kayleigh and Kaylynne Truong, I knew had to write about Cornell University’s Jameson Wang, a quarterback on the Ivy League school’s football team and his NIL (name, image and likeness) deal with Degree (which was reported back in August):
““I was contacted by Opendorse, which is a third party NIL company, and they told me that Degree was looking for me to join the Breaking Limits Team,” Wang said. “Coming from an Asian American background, playing football … it’s gonna help me share my story to a lot of people that don’t know my story. And I’m really thankful for that; really blessed that Degree has given me the opportunity to do this.” … Wang played in seven games last season for the Big Red and led the squad in rushing with 349 yards (5.5 yards per carry) and four touchdowns, becoming the second freshman in program history to do so.
The level of Asian American representation in major United States sports is quite low. According to the 2021 Racial and Gender Report Card from The Institute for Diversity and Equity in Sports (TIDES), only 1.5 percent of male Division I athletes identified as Asian. For female Division I athletes, the percentage isn’t much higher (2.3 percent). Only two percent of Division I football players identified as either Asian or Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander.
The trend holds true at the professional level as well. Asian athletes made up 0.4 percent of NBA players, 0.1 percent of NFL players, 1.9 percent of MLB players, 1.3 percent of MLS players, and 1.4 percent (only two identified as Asian American) of WNBA players, according to TIDES’s 2021 reports on each league. …
“When you think of an Asian American, you’re not gonna think of an athlete; you’re gonna think more of a student,” he said. “We’re just trying to break that stereotype. … For me, just to prove that Asians are more than just smart in the classroom; they are great athletes as well. … I don’t normally think about that because I know what I’m capable of.””
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As a Cornell alum myself, I did read about him when he first became a freshman player last year, where he was interviewed and discussed the lack of Asian Americans in athletics:
“During the 2019-2020 football season, only about 0.3 percent of all NCAA Division I football players in the country identified as Asian. Being one of the few Asian Americans to play for the Red in recent memory, Wang has been placed center stage while he tackles one of the most integral positions in the game….
As years went by and Wang began getting noticed by various colleges, he quickly took on a new role in the Asian American community as a role model.
“As I got deeper in high school and realized that I was good enough to play at the collegiate level, I was trying to use my platform to promote Asian Americans and American football because there just hasn’t been that many people to do it,” Wang said.
Being from Los Angeles, Wang’s play was often noticed and publicized through platforms like Instagram. During his sophomore and junior seasons, Wang received direct messages from other Asian Americans aspiring to play football.
“So that’s when I was using my platform to help encourage other Asian Americans that they can do it too,” Wang said. “I’m not the first one, and I’m not going to be the last one to do it.””
I’m hoping the best for Jameson and the Cornell Big Red football team. Go Big Red! Let’s hope Wangsanity eventually becomes a thing!