In this Article, Professor Stewart Chang disputes the common misperception that sports are a colorblind meritocracy that should serve as a model for the rest of society. The capacity of players to break into and succeed in professional sports is believed to be based purely on merit, with no consideration of race. Controversies that surfaced around the rise of professional basketball player Jeremy Lin, an Asian American not expected to succeed in a sport dominated by blacks and whites, challenged this popularly-held notion. He argues, not in a derisive way, that Lin's ability to secure a lucrative $28.8 million contract, originally with the Houston Rockets and recently traded to the Los Angeles Lakers, was not purely based on merit, but was based on race. Expanding upon Nancy Leong's theory of racial capitalism and Justice O'Connor's business diversity rationale in Grutter v. Bollinger, Professor Chang suggests that the primary reason for Lin's continued place in the National Basketball Association represents the monetization of race by corporate interests, which contradicts the idealization of the sports as a colorblind meritocracy.
14 Va. Sports & Ent. L.J. 1 (2014).