Day 353: Evolution

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December 18, 2012 by Alex Hoekstra

As a scientist, I’ve honed my understanding and appreciation for evolution.  It begins with mutation, then guided by advantage, ultimately to distinguish brand new species.  Evolution is by no means restricted to biology, and in fact biology now offers some one of the slowest demonstrations of evolution we can observe.  Culture is just as fascinating and mutates at a much faster pace.  Today’s project is a comprehensive case study of one such mutation that has bred a brand new cultural phenomenon in New York’s Chinatown.  Watch as a whole culture evolves over the course of only a few generations, and continues to mutate and grow to thrive and dominate.  It’s a beautiful thing.  Back 9-Man before December 21.


NINE-MAN is a streetball game played in Chinatown by Chinese-American and Chinese-Canadian men. It’s fast, chaotic, unpredictable, grueling; the rules are distinct and exist no where else in the world—imagine volleyball with 18 guys, dunks, and bloodied elbows. This is a sport that is completely unique to Chinese-Americans and therefore something very special to those who play it. Why haven’t you heard of it? Because it’s played only by men. And two-thirds of the players have to be “100% Chinese”. And perhaps because good things are often kept secret. If you’re not part of the nine-man community, you may have no idea what an incredible scene it is. We’re trying to change that. After decades of mainstream obscurity, it’s time for people to get to know this colorful corner of Chinatown. We’re making a film about it.


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