I don't know if New York Times columnist David Brooks is an alien life form. Do aliens have posh Virginia farmhouse offices? Do they need jobs? Aliens probably need jobs. You have to fit in while you figure out your plan to destroy Earth, and that would explain a lot about David Brooks.
And to be fair, Brooks' job as alien columnist for the New York Times changes every week.
"Alien, write about immigration!"
"Alien, it's time for a crumbling American society column!"
That is a difficult job. It may be made even more difficult if his bosses are aliens themselves, just throwing this other poor green thing wearing a human mask in a barn in suburban Virginia weird, non-sequential assignments on deadline at random.
(NOTE: He allegedly writes well about politics, even for a human, and this is hard. This is a sports column. He's very bad at writing about sports on a human or alien level. He should never, ever do it again. You'll see. We promise.)
So his job is hard, or at least he makes it look really hard. Still, this happened, and even on the "I-am-an-alien-writing-about-HUMANN-behavior" scale, this is akin to crashing a broken tricycle into a vat of toxic waste going uphill past signs warning you about the very stupid thing you are about to do.
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 has webbed toes, associates smells with colors, and also tucks shirts into his sweatpants. A veritable platypus flying an F-22 of a human being just walking among us, that Jeremy Lin.
This seems like a really loose definition of anomaly, but it's not completely inaccurate or insane. This, however, is:
He’s a religious person in professional sports.
Conclusion: "David Brooks" has never been to a professional sporting event.
I don't know if this is true, but David Brooks didn't know if Jeremy Lin being a religious person in professional sports was either, and it's right there in the New York Times. Athletes in every locker room of every professional sport fit the standard layout of religiosity. Some are quietly irreligious, some go to church and neatly pair it with an active life of vice, and some are teetotalling tithers who judge you for improperly ironed slacks while inviting you to Bible study. Try to find an NFL team without a Bible study group, David Brooks, and we will have an anomaly.
This is really just an on-ramp so Brooks can clumsily pull his semi-truck of a preconceived argument through the highway exit of Jeremy Lin's popularity. It has a sign that says "NO SEMI-TRUCKS. IF YOU HIT THIS SIGN YOU WILL HIT THE OVERPASS."
We’ve become accustomed to the faith-driven athlete and coach, from Billy Sunday to Tim Tebow. But we shouldn’t forget how problematic this is. The moral ethos of sport is in tension with the moral ethos of faith, whether Jewish, Christian or Muslim.
And Brooks is wondering what that noise, the sound of the trailer top peeling back like a can of sardines, is. It is this column. Right there is a list of every religion in the world. Brooks' alien handbook says so. The handbook is never wrong, just like the part where it says parking meters are a favorite food of hu-manns. They seem inedible, but he's going to keep eating them to fit in no matter how many strange glances he gets.
Also, Jeremy Lin and many other athletes in multiple sports are lauded for teamwork, i.e. selflessness. It's why left tackles are paid tremendous money in the NFL, and why soccer games are won or lost in midfield. But that would entail a.) knowing something about sports, or b.) not willingly sawing Jeremy Lin's legs off to fit him in your Procrustean Bed of an argument. Both should have red-flagged this from the start, but the truck's already halfway under that overpass. Let's hit that gas pedal, Dave.
Conclusions: David Brooks has never seen Barcelona FC play football, and may not have ever watched a professional sport. (It is not his fault. He is an alien.)
There are a few short paragraphs that follow. Don't read them. They are linking things with direct statements, conjunctions and shared words, and doing so very randomly in service of an argument neither Lin, basketball, nor sports at large make. Brooks' point is that sports don't require self-abnegation or menial work, both key to certain faiths. (The three that are all religions, per Alien Religion Professor Brooks.) They also could have been cut and pasted by a Twitter bot. A highly paid, University of Chicago-educated Twitter bot paid to write for a living.
Conclusions: David Brooks is a highly-paid Twitter bot who has never seen an athlete work on the menial, tedious things that make most professional athletes successful. He never saw Michael Irvin catch 100 balls in a row, puking in the Dallas heat alone after a full-contact Cowboys practice. He has never seen the tedium of people at work. He may never leave his farmhouse, both because it is cold out there, and because he has misplaced his mask again. He is the worst sportswriter and worst writer about religion to ever come from the Planet Xendorph.
Alien columnists may be very different in many ways, but they love a covered blockquote just like everyone else does. That is why a full three paragraphs of this piece are either direct blockquotes or paraphrase. The first is from Lin himself. The second is a long quote from a Jewish theologian that isn't about sports. You say you can't connect these? David Brooks can, and he'll do it with the skill of a Russian scientist sewing dog heads onto different canine bodies because -- well, just because, man.
The odds are that Lin will never figure it out because the two moral universes are not reconcilable. Our best teacher on these matters is Joseph Soloveitchik, the great Jewish theologian.
You may remember Soloveitchik's triple-double during the -- I'm sorry I can't even finish this because this is the worst column involving sports we've ever seen. It mentions nothing from reality to support an argument made by no one using things people wrote about entirely unrelated things. It is a gingerbread house made of cut-up bike tires, fake flowers, and insulating caulk. It is Homer Simpson's barbecue pit.
You'll say we're missing the point, Alien Columnist Brooks, because you know that's what smart people do. You didn't get it. It was over your head. You failed to grasp the Athenian grace of my ethereal argumentative structure with your crude Spartan brain. This cardigan cost $400 and you washed it on hot.
I will say what anyone else reading this who knows any professional sport knows: humility, real, practical, non-symbolic humility is the only path to long-term success in professional sport. Maybe not the kind of ash-heaping theatricality Brooks is looking for, but no one said aliens appreciated the subtlety of the perfect pass, brutal run block or the frenzy of a pit crew leaping over the wall at Daytona. It takes work, and in the end, service to others.
This deep theology is explained in such pioneering intellectual works as Cars, Varsity Blues and Major League. They're challenging, but if you turn on the DVD commentary and take notes, they'll probably take after a few viewings. It's not a monastic life, mind you, but it is certainly a few zip codes closer to reality than whatever you're saying here.
Missing the obvious selflessness at the root of most successful team sports is bad, but when you're writing about a point guard? Someone who will willingly take a step backwards for teammates, especially when Carmelo Anthony returns? That is willful ignorance in the service of your argument, an argument had something to do with humility. If David Brooks had an ounce of it, he would have never written this flaming crapheap of a column, but humility's not in the alien handbook, either.
Conclusion: There is no "problem" with Jeremy Lin. David Brooks is an alien, and not a particularly bright or humble one.