By Jason Cruz
Northwest Asian Weekly
Welcome to another edition of The Layup Drill. In this edition, we look at the Super Bowl, Winter Olympics, and Major League Baseball (MLB), which is in the midst of a strike.
Taylor Rapp wins Super Bowl, proposes
The Los Angeles Rams defeated the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl LVI (56) on Feb. 13. The Rams did it in their home stadium, SoFi Stadium, in Carson, Calif. It was just the second time that an NFL team was able to play in front of their home fans. The first time happened in 2021 when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers won the Super Bowl. After winning, Rapp, 24, still in his uniform, proposed to his longtime girlfriend, Dani Johnson, on the field.
Rapp had four tackles and assisted on 3 others during the big game. Fortunately for him, he returned to play in the Super Bowl after having to sit out a couple games due to suffering a concussion in a game against the San Francisco 49ers a couple weeks prior to the big game.
Rapp, whose mother is Chinese, and Johnson have been dating since high school. It was a big moment for Rapp, as he was able to get a championship ring and give an engagement ring in one afternoon.
Nathan Chen redeems himself
Nathan Chen returned to the Olympics to redeem himself from a disappointing performance in 2018, in Pyeongchang, South Korea. This time, he won a gold medal in Beijing. Chen won the free skate at the Olympics as he hit five quad jumps. Chen also earned a silver medal for Team USA in the short program skate.
With the Olympic gold medal, Chen became the first Asian American man to earn an Olympic medal. With his gold medal performance in Beijing, he became the holder of the highest score for a male in the short program, the highest skate score and the highest total combined score at the Olympics.
Chen’s performance occurred during the first week of the Olympics and he was able to savor the moment with multiple television interviews celebrating his achievement.
Chen became one of the faces for the U.S. team as he appeared in a commercial advertising the U.S. Olympics during the Super Bowl. He also has long-term endorsement deals with brands including Visa, Nike, Toyota, and Bridgestone Tires.
At only 22, Chen will likely be back for Italy’s 2026 Winter Games.
Chloe Kim returns to Olympics in dominant fashion
21-year-old Chloe Kim returned to the Olympics and earned back-to-back gold medals at the snowboard halfpipe event. Kim was able to score high in her first run of the finals and used her last two runs to work on tricks, which were thrown out as she already knew that her first score would likely be good enough to win the competition.
Similar to Chen, Kim’s taken her success in her sport to do commercials. One of her partners, Procter & Gamble, produced a campaign called Always There, in which she pays tribute to her parents.
“It’s such an honor, and to be able to do something I love and bring more attention to my community is very important to me,” Kim told InStyle Magazine in a recent interview. “It makes me so happy knowing there’s an Asian American girl out there, looking up to me, wanting to try their best and work hard to make those dreams come true.”
Gu wins three medals for China
Eileen Gu was likely the most scrutinized athlete of the Beijing Olympics. Despite living in San Francisco, Calif., Gu became a Chinese citizen to compete for the country in freestyle skiing. Citing the fact that she wanted to inspire young Chinese girls, the 18-year-old decided to make the citizenship change.
Gu came through with two gold medals and one silver in her three freestyle skiing events: halfpipe, slopestyle, and big air. She became the first freestyle skier in the sport to win three medals at the Winter Olympics. Her first medal came in the big air event and then another in the women’s freeski halfpipe competition. She won her silver medal at the slopestyle event.
Gu was cheered throughout the competitions by locals, as well as U.S. friends and family. She was admitted to Stanford University last month and it’s likely that she will attend her mother’s alma mater.
However, we should expect Gu to return to multiple Olympics in the years to come.
Edman’s holidays made difficult due to baseball lockout
Major League Baseball is at a standstill at this point with the owners and players stalled over a new collective bargaining agreement. As a result, spring training is on pause and MLB has canceled the first week of regular season games due to the work stoppage.
St. Louis Cardinals second baseman Tommy Edman spent the holidays with his siblings which made things awkward as some of them were employed by the MLB.
Due to the lockout, employees of the MLB are prevented from speaking to active players. Edman, whose mother is South Korean, has two siblings that work in analytics departments for major league teams.
Edman’s older brother works in research and development for the Minnesota Twins, while his younger sister worked as an engineer for the Cardinals before recently leaving.
As a result, the holidays at the Edman house were a little strange. In fact, it was reported that the 2021 Gold Glove second baseman sat in another room while his brother and sister sat in another.
Jason can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.