By Jason Cruz
Northwest Asian Weekly
I admit that I love sports. No matter what it is, I’ll watch it. It’s with this passion that I decided to answer an ad in the Northwest Asian Weekly to become a freelance writer for the newspaper. That was over 10 years ago.
Not only have I been able to cover sports for the Northwest Asian Weekly, but I developed a greater understanding of the importance of community news and the need to highlight some great Asian and Asian American sports figures.
I started to write for the Northwest Asian Weekly as an escape from practicing law. The good news is that people seem to enjoy reading my articles and I find it fulfilling. Sure, I have received my fair share of criticism, but while there are opinionated responses, the bright side is that people are reading the articles and it has ignited discussion.
Through the work with the paper, I’ve been able to cover games, interview sports stars, and write a column featuring Asian Pacific Island (API) sports figures.
I’ve been able to interview Los Angeles Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson, whose mother is Filipino, Ed Wang, who became the first full-blooded Chinese player to be drafted and play in the NFL, Benson Henderson, a former UFC lightweight champion, and Olympic figure skating hopefuls Nathan and Karen Chen. Along the way, I’ve written about boxing, mixed martial arts, basketball, football, baseball, hockey, cycling, swimming, running, cricket, rugby, esports, and more.
I found out that Asian sports was more than just about Ichiro Suzuki, Manny Pacquiao, and Tiger Woods.
There was also Jeremy Lin. It is not a stretch to say that Linsantiy may have been the biggest thing to happen in API sports in years. Woods’ success was in golf, a sport not followed by a majority of younger APIs. Also, Woods’ injuries and behavior outside of golf made him less of a role model. Basketball is very popular and Lin became an overnight sensation. He became the subject of many columns and stories.
It was also one of my greatest misses of an interview. While Lin played with the Los Angeles Lakers, I was able to obtain a press pass when the team visited to play the Portland TrailBlazers. I drove down to Portland to attend the game. It was a surreal experience to have the opportunity to track down Lin pre-game and see if he wanted to answer a couple questions. He politely turned me down as he jogged passed me, heading to the court to warm up. He quickly explained that he didn’t give interviews pregame and that the one I just saw him do was for an LA-based sports network set up by the Lakers. Those things happen, but I still had a great time covering the game. To make it up, I had a chance to speak with Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson, who is half Filipino, after the game. He was willing to talk a little bit about his family and shared his favorite Filipino food: lumpia.
One of my more memorable interviews was with Q13 Sports Director Aaron Levine. For someone that is always on the go and in the know in the Seattle sports scene, it was great that he returned my email inquiry almost immediately. When I arrived at the station, he came out to the lobby to greet me himself and was refreshingly genuine in answering my questions. Levine, a Stanford grad, showed how prepared he was — he told me he looked up some of my past articles and was interested in the fact that I wrote about mixed martial arts.
Writing a sports column was another dream of mine. The paper has given me great flexibility in the subjects that I write about and they trust my judgment.
Some months are easier than others, but The Layup Drill (the name of my column) has made me keep a keen eye out for APIs in sports. It makes me feel proud seeing more and more APIs excelling in sports and in a great variety of them.
Outside of sports, I’ve also had the opportunity to interview politicians, civic leaders, and celebrities like George Takei. Even though my interview time was cut dramatically, he had a gregarious personality and was happy to speak with me. While I do feel he may have provided me his “standard” scripted interview comments, Takei seemed like a very nice man who loved being an actor.
In addition to covering sports and interviewing the occasional celebrity, I am sometimes assigned to local stories. I’ve learned that in covering community subjects, every organization, community group, and person has a story to tell and it’s always important to listen to get the story right.
Jason can be reached at email@example.com.