Plenty of ridiculous people have gotten swept up in Linsanity—nobody blinks an eye when a Florida State sorority girl obliviously asks "Jerry Lin" of the Super Bowl champion NY Giants to formal. But when NY Times columnist David Brooks decides to write a stupendously wrongheaded op-ed column about the Lin phenomenon and gets everything wrong in the first paragraph, people tend to notice—and Brooks did just that today, by making the assertion that Lin is an anomaly in the world of professional sports because he's religious.
Here's the full opening paragraph from Brooks' column, "The Jeremy Lin Problem:"
Jeremy Lin is anomalous in all sorts of ways. He’s a Harvard grad in the N.B.A., an Asian-American man in professional sports. But we shouldn’t neglect the biggest anomaly. He’s a religious person in professional sports.
Brooks goes on to somewhat contradict that opening premise in the second paragraph, writing, "We've become accustomed to the faith-driven athlete and coach." Then he devotes most of the rest of his column to debating how often "the moral ethos of sport is in tension with the moral ethos of faith," and how problematic that divide can be.
But his opening gambit is what turned heads across the internet, and not for good reasons: Daily Intel wonders if Brooks knows what the word anomaly means, while the Atlantic reasons that at best, "the point about Lin being an anomaly was poor-wording on the way to this much more substantive argument." None of that changes the fact that whatever argument Brooks is trying to make about the struggle between competition and morality, his basic premise for the column in the "newspaper of record" is moronic.
According to Merriam-Webster, an anomaly is a "deviation from the common rule" or "something different, abnormal, peculiar, or not easily classified" (it's also "the angular distance of a planet from its perihelion as seen from the sun," but that's neither here nor there). So Brooks thinks Lin is a deviation from the common athlete because of his devout religiousness. Which makes total sense: Lin is an anomaly just like Tim Tebow, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Muhammad Ali, Tiger Woods, Sandy Koufax, Hakeem Olajuwon, Tony Dungy, Philip Rivers, Dikembe Mutombo, Serena and Venus Williams, Jimmer Fredette, Carl Everett, Reggie White, Steve Young, Joe Gibbs, Kurt Warner, Mariano Rivera, Curt Schilling, most of the NFL, and countless other outspokenly religious players are anomalies.
So there can only be one explanation: Brooks is trolling us all. And if not, perhaps he should consider talking to Metta World Peace before writing his next column, since World Peace definitely understands these issues a lot more deeply than Brooks does: "God created earth in 7days.. Jeremy Lin went 7 and 0 in his first starts."