The GIST - Sunday Scroll: Happy AANHPI Month!

Blazing a trail ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌
Sunday Scroll
From The GIST Team

Happy Sunday!

Welcome to The GIST’s Sunday Scroll, where we dive deep into one timely sports topic.

And happy Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Heritage Month (AANHPI) in the U.S. and Asian Heritage Month in Canada! From the baseball diamond to the boardroom and everywhere in between, members of the AANHPI community are leaving their mark on the sports world.

  • Before we dive into today’s topic, our Mother’s Day Sunday Scroll is right around the corner. We know it can be a difficult day, so if you’d rather not receive that email, opt out here. It won’t impact your regular GIST subscription.
Quote of The Day
Quote The thing about Polynesian and Indigenous people, when they see somebody of their kind winning, it means the whole community’s won.
Alissa Pili dribbling two basketballs at Minnesota Lynx training camp

— Samoan and Iñupiaq basketball player Alissa Pili, on the importance of representation. Pili was a multisport athlete growing up before enjoying a successful college basketball career at USC and Utah.

  • And just a few weeks ago, the Minnesota Lynx selected her with the eighth overall pick in the WNBA Draft, making her the sixth Indigenous player drafted to the league. A true inspiration.
The Scroll

👊 Blazing a trail

NY Knick Wataru Misaka looking on
Source: NBA.com

In the 1940s, several AANHPI athletes across North America became “firsts'' in their sports, blazing a trail for generations of athletes to come. The first of the firsts was former NY Knick Wataru Misaka, who became the NBA’s first Asian American and first non-white player in 1947.

  • A year later, in 1948, Larry Kwong joined the NY Rangers as the NHL’s first Asian Canadian player and diver Victoria Manalo Draves became the first-ever Asian American Olympic champion in 1948.

But their journeys sadly came with the added obstacle of racism. Draves was initially forced to use her English mother’s maiden name while competing, while Kwong only played one minute in the NHL (though was a star in other leagues). As one of his friends said, “It was hard to catch a break when you looked like Larry did.”

Fast forward 50 years and AANHPI athletes continue to leave their mark on the historically white sports landscape. One high-profile example? Figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi.

  • Yamaguchi became an American sports icon when she won Olympic gold in 1992 and also paved the way for Asian Americans in a sport often described as “the domain of white Americans and Europeans.” Inclusivity wins gold medals.

💪 The kids are alright

Brothers Nicholas Robertson #89 of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Jason Robertson #21 of the Dallas Stars pose during warm-up
Source: Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images

This generation of AANHPI athletes is successfully carrying the torch, emerging as champions in their respective sports, ranging from college to the Olympics.

AANHPI athletes from around the world are earning the spotlight, too. LA Dodgers superstar Shohei Ohtani is leaving his mark in MLB, signing a first-of-its-kind contract during the offseason, while Australian soccer star Sam Kerr was the face of the record-breaking FIFA Women’s World Cup Down Under last July.

  • New Zealand’s Lydia Ko is one win away from more history on the LPGA Tour, while Chinese freestyle skier and two-time Olympic gold medalist Eileen Gu inspired girls around the world to pick up the sport after dominating in Beijing in 2022.

Women’s sports also reached new heights in Asia last year with the inaugural Women’s Premier League (WPL) season. The Indian cricket league began with a bang — Paramount’s Viacom18 paid $116M for broadcast rights, team owners forked over a cumulative $573M to join the league, and around 50K fans attended the first-ever WPL final in March 2023.

Together With The GIST

🎙️ Sound off

The GIST of It so-hosts Steph Rotz and Ellen Hyslop smiling
Source: The GIST

Looking for a new podcast? Then you have to check out our twice-weekly podcast, The GIST of It. Hosted by BFFs Ellen Hyslop and Stephanie Rotz, it’s the women-produced and -hosted sports podcast you’ve been waiting for.

But don’t just take our word for it. Here’s what our listeners are saying:

  • “They are enthusiastic and funny, and I don’t miss an episode!” (Ronbenlisa)
  • “The best sports podcast on the air!” (_Jo777)
  • “Finally a podcast that gives women’s sports the attention it deserves.” (Dnp!!)

Join the conversation (and these happy listeners!) by subscribing to The GIST of It wherever you tune into podcasts.

💼 Taking charge

Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA), Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Gwendolyn Mink, daughter of Rep. Patsy Mink, and former tennis player Billie Jean King stand together during the unveiling of a portrait of the late Rep. Patsy Mink
Source: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

Away from the field of play, Asians, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders are changing the game. Hawaiian congresswoman Patsy Mink was already a trailblazer as the first woman of color elected to the U.S. Congress in 1964, but she ushered in an entirely new era in American sports as one of the chief architects behind Title IX.

Off-the-field AANHPI power players are still blazing trails five decades later. The Miami Heat’s Erik Spoelstra became the NBA’s first Asian head coach in 2008, while Rich Cho was tapped as the league’s first Asian general manager (GM) in 2010, leading the aptly named Portland Trail Blazers.

Plus, AANHPI athletes are making an impact on sports in more ways than one. Gold medal-winning snowboarder Chloe Kim is one of four iconic female athletes who founded Togethxr, a media company dedicated to women’s sports. Tennis icon Naomi Osaka, meanwhile, is building quite the business résumé when she isn’t hitting the court.

  • Osaka’s portfolio includes sunscreen line Kinlò, with products designed specifically for melanated skin, and production company Hana Kuma. One of her first projects? A documentary about Congresswoman Mink. Game recognizing game.

❤️ Stop AANHPI hate

Chloe Kim of the USA poses with the gold medal at the X Games Aspen 2024
Source: Jamie Squire/Getty Images

The sports world often fails to tackle racism directed at AANHPI athletes, which, at times, has tarnished memorable, hard-earned moments in players’ careers. For example, basketball player Jeremy Lin said he was on the receiving end of racist comments in the midst of his incredible “Linsanity'' run during the 2011–12 NBA season.

Racism towards Asians hit a new low during the COVID-19 pandemic, with ripple effects felt on sports’ biggest stages. Several Asian athletes received hateful messages on social media during the 2022 Winter Olympics.

Prominent AANHPI athletes are tackling racism by telling their stories. Before winning gold in Beijing, Kim penned an essay about how she felt “ashamed” to be Korean because of normalized racism. “Now I am so proud to be Korean American. I was nervous to share my experiences with racism, but we need to hear more of these conversations.”

The GIST's Picks

Here’s what has GIST HQ buzzing:

⚾ What to listen to

Asians in Baseball, a podcast highlighting Asian players in MLB and Asian Americans who have shaped the sport. A home run.

🍻 Who to know

Jenny Nguyen, founder and CEO of The Sports Bra, the first-of-its-kind women’s sports bar in Portland, Oregon, that recently partnered with the 776 Foundation for expansion opportunities across the country. If you build it, they will come.

✊ What needs to stop

AAPI Hate. This coalition tracks and responds to incidents of hate, violence, and discrimination against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the U.S. Join the movement, and keep looking out for each other.

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