Commentator says Shohei Ohtani benefits from Asian stereotypes amid interpreter’s gambling scandal

Commentator says Shohei Ohtani benefits from Asian stereotypes amid interpreter’s gambling scandal
via The Right Time with Bomani Jones (left), ABC7 (right)
Ryan General
19 days ago
Sports commentator Bomani Jones says Americans’ perception of Asians as “solemn and very noble” could be influencing public perception of a gambling scandal involving Shohei Ohtani’s fired interpreter Ippei Mizuhara.
Key points:
  • On the Friday episode of his podcast, Jones argued that Americans’ tendency to view Asians as more honorable is playing into how the scandal is unfolding.
  • Jones went as far as suggesting Ohtani‘s representatives may be using public stereotypes to downplay the scandal.
  • Major League Baseball (MLB) is now formally investigating the allegations of gambling and theft.

Catch up:
  • Mizuhara, 39, was terminated by the Los Angeles Dodgers following reports of his alleged ties to Mathew Bowyer, an Orange County bookie. He is accused of wiring Bowyer $4.5 million from Ohtani’s bank account for illegal gambling activities.
The details:
  • Speaking on his “The Right Time” podcast, Jones asserted that American society’s reverence for Asian individuals may lead to a predisposition to trust Ohtani’s innocence amidst the scandal.
  • According to Jones, Hollywood’s portrayal of Asians in a “noble” and “solemn” light potentially affects perceptions of their actions. “We tend to mythologize them in some interesting ways,” Jones said. “I think in large part because we’ve watched all them kung-fu movies. We have a tendency to think of Asians as very solemn and very noble, with a different strain of morality … I think that’s how a lot of people view Asians in our society.”
  • Jones further posited that Ohtani’s camp is capitalizing on this purported positive bias, saying, “The ignorance that they are trying to play out right now, you can only think that works if you think these silly Americans are going to believe it.”
  • Mizuhara, when questioned by ESPN, initially claimed that Ohtani had helped pay off his gambling debts but later retracted, stating that Ohtani had no knowledge of the debts.
What’s next: 
  • The MLB’s investigation against Mizuhara and Bowyer could have far-reaching consequences for both Ohtani and the sport’s image, given Ohtani’s superstar status. The league will need to handle the outcome with sensitivity to minimize potential damage to its reputation.
  • The scandal represents one of the most significant gambling controversies in baseball since Pete Rose, who incurred a lifetime ban in 1989 over accusations of betting on baseball games, including the Cincinnati Reds, which he was managing at the time.
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