By Jason Cruz
Northwest Asian Weekly
Welcome to another edition of The Layup Drill. This month, we take a look at a variety of news involving Manny Pacquiao, Naomi Osaka, and Jeremy Lin.
Age shows in Pacquiao loss
Manny Pacquiao returned to the ring two years after his last appearance. He was set to fight top contender Errol Spence, Jr. in August, but an eye injury caused Spence to withdraw. Wanting to keep the date and fight, Pacquiao took on Cuban Yordenis Ugas, who was scheduled to fight on the undercard but stepped up to be in the main event.
Unfortunately for Pacquiao, Ugas was a much bigger opponent than Spence, with better reach to keep Pacquiao’s flurry of punches at bay. In the end, Ugas dominated the bout with Pacquiao looking slower and affected by the continued jabs and counterpunching of Ugas. Ugas won by unanimous decision.
At the end of the fight, Pacquiao was not sure if he’d return to boxing. At age 42, Pacquiao did not look like the same boxer that entered the ring two years prior. While Pacquiao has a political career and the possibility of becoming the president of the Philippines, a couple days after the fight, he was more willing to return to the ring.
“In my heart, I want to continue to fight,” Pacquiao told Sports Illustrated.
Osaka leads in pay, falters on court
Tennis star Naomi Osaka is the highest-paid female athlete ever, according to a recent report by Forbes. The 23-year-old has earned $37.4 million in the last 12 months from prize money and endorsements—$1.4 million more than Serena Williams, the previous high-water mark for women’s pay. Osaka is touted as one of the most marketable athletes in the world. She has used her platform to speak out on civil rights and mental health.
Osaka has had a tumultuous summer as she pulled out of the French Open and Wimbledon to focus on her mental health. However, she returned to Tokyo for the Olympics and lit the Olympic flame at the opening ceremonies. As she represented Japan in the Summer Games in tennis, she lost in the early rounds of the tournament and did not medal.
Osaka returned to competitive play at the U.S. Open this September, but was ousted in an upset in the third round to 18-year-old Filipino Canadian Leylah Fernandez. With her loss, Osaka spoke to the media and indicated that she may take an extended time off from the sport.
Jeremy Lin lands in hospital
Former NBA basketball star Jeremy Lin is out of the hospital after contracting COVID-19. He became infected despite being fully vaccinated. Lin was traveling back to China from the United States and tested positive while he was in quarantine. Lin played for the Golden States Warriors’ G League affiliate this season in an attempt to return to the NBA. His playing career is currently up in the air, although he indicated that he would return to China to play.
In a social media post on Aug. 9, Lin pleaded for others to get the vaccine. While he first indicated that the symptoms were mild, Lin spent 30 days in a Chinese hospital combating COVID-19. On Sept. 2,, he posted on social media that he had tested negative and thanked the frontline workers in China who “live in the hospital for a month at a time without leaving or seeking family and quarantine for 14 days before goin (sic) home.”
Soccer team posts racist picture
Italian soccer club Juventus apologized after a tweet was posted on its women’s team’s official account, showing a player drawing back their eyes with their fingers while wearing a red training cone on her head. The post also included emojis that mimicked the eye-pulling gesture.
The social media post was taken down after over 20 minutes of it being live. It received backlash for “blatant racism.” The team apologized for the tweet, but did not respond to questions as to why and how the picture was allowed to be posted.
This is not the only time that a team has posed with racially insensitive overtones toward Asians. In 2008, Spain’s Olympic basketball team all posed with their fingers near their eyes to mock Asians in a promotional photo. Pau Gasol, an NBA basketball player, apologized for the pose and stated that it was not supposed to be offensive but funny.
Gold medalist Lee picked to compete on Dancing with the Stars
With the victory, come the spoils. Olympic gold medalist gymnast Suni Lee will be starting her college career at Auburn University this year. It is expected that she will take advantage of the new rules allowing collegiate athletes to profit off of their name, image, and likeness.
In addition to the numerous sponsorship deals and opportunities, Lee has been chosen to participate on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars.” The show pairs celebrities with dancers and they are judged every week on their performance.
Transgender soccer player comes out
Japanese professional soccer player Kumi Yokoyama announced they are transgender where they play in the National Women’s Soccer League. The 27-year-old decided to reveal their gender identity while living in the United States. The identity is not legally recognized in their native Japan. They made the announcement on another teammate’s YouTube channel. They indicated that they would like to live as a man after they finish their soccer career. The statement was praised by President Biden. In addition, their team, the Washington Spirit, announced support.
“Thank you for showing the world it’s ok to embrace who you are!” the team praised in a tweet. Yokoyama prefers the use of “they” and “them” pronouns.
Yokoyama played for Japan in the 2019 Women’s World Cup.
Jason can be reached at email@example.com.