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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Tallest Kid in Class: Yao Ming

I had a Ukrainian nanny as a kid. Her name was Ludmilla, and she would entertain my brothers and I with stories of growing up in the USSR. As an eight year old, I would fantasize about the cool single activity school my body size or talents would place me in. I was unable to grasp the concept of personal opportunity cost intertwined and hidden behind a goal of activity perfection.  The nationalization/government control of every service made no sense to me. All I saw was a dream of being able to perfect my passion or talent.

I failed to realize that the government selects talent for their own interest. Realistically the probability of being placed in a prodigal school of ones passion is minimal or non-existant. Yao Ming, The retired NBA star grew up without choice. Ming, was born large and continued to grow. He got a fraction of his height from his parents who were both professional basketball players in China. At age 9 Ming was plucked out of regular school and played in a state run sports academy. At 13, education was a lost dream, and Ming began playing full time for The Shanghai Sharks. 

Yao Ming, fully grown at 7'6 was the tallest player in the NBA. In the western world, so many of us dream of sport stardom. For Ming the dream of playing pro ball wasn't an all encompassing fantasy, but a career path set in motion by the communistic regime. There is no denying that Ming is a great player, however I find it heartbreaking to contemplate a true nationalized society. I think it cruel to dictate the dreams and futures of the populous based on non elective qualities. At 7'6 even if Ming had wanted to be a chemist, an architect, or a jockey those choices wouldn't have been available, and if they were they would be presented in a discouraging fashion. 

At 31, Ming has finally realized his dream of education. He has recently enrolled and started studying at Shanghai's Jiao Tong University in China. The university is accommodating to the eager giant. Providing Ming with custom made desks for his height, and private tutoring with professors to help make Ming's learning experience less intimidating. Ming's return to the classroom after an 18 year break is fearless and inspiring. Ming proves that it is never to late to go back and realize the potential of  supposedly lost dreams.  


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