I don’t understand where this stereotype that older Asian people are passive and quiet comes from — anyone who’s been on the 30 Stockton through Chinatown knows that it’s the retired ones with the canes that hit your leg the hardest to make you move over. Along those lines, the Wall Street Journal passes along possibly the awesomest local news story we’ve seen in some time — where an 86 year old Asian man forced the city to its knees!!!! This man is a role model for us all!

Meet Ed Leong, a Sunset resident and avid badminton player. Recently, to save money, SF Parks and Recs started charging local badminton players $4 to reserve a court for 45 minutes. Makes sense, right? We’re short on money — in fact, our favorite swimming pool in the Mission was furloughed for the same reason. But…. why was it that the city only charged for badminton players? Why not charge for volleyball courts? Is it because….. badminton is a sport played primarily by Asian-Americans in San Francisco??? Do I see racism here???

Ed Leong was outraged! So what does he do? He started circulating a petition among other local badminton players, and gathered over 200 signatures to present to Gavin Newsom. He went to the media. He called Parks and Recs to complain. People started flooding Supervisor Carmen Chu‘s office with emails and calls. He held a rally on the steps of City Hall!!! (How did we miss this rally? People, you must keep us informed about these things!! I blame the SF Chronicle for cutting its local news coverage — this story was almost exclusively reported only in the Chinese language media.)

Go Ed Leong! Faced with the community pressure, Parks and Recs backed down. The fee’s been waived for this month, and starting in April, will be $1 for all courts, be it badminton, volleyball, or basketball. Parks and Recs took the hit fairly, saying they implemented the policy badly, but noted that the original reason for the badminton-only fee hike was because “some people” would double-book courts and then never show up, so this was supposed to encourage people only to book courts they would actually use. (Oh, I hope that person’s not Mr. Leong.)

As Mr. Leong, who has been playing badminton since the 1940s, says: “I’d suggest to the city that they think twice before taking on us badminton players again.” Ed Leong for California governor!!!!!

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  • Greg Dewar

    I think you hit the nail on the head here with this one…here was an issue of interest to the community, here’s one person who held a big rally at City Hall on said issue, and we hear nothing in the Chronicle. Is it any wonder people don’t buy it anymore?

    More importantly, this gentelman highlighted a short-sighted policy that was serving no one well, and fixed it so everyone is treated equally. Good for him! And thanks to you and the SF Appeal for letting us know!

  • Allan

    While we’re on the subject, what is badminton at these rec centers like? I love badminton, and have flirted with the idea of checking out the scene at the SoMa, Noe Valley or Glen Park facilities. But I never go, I think because I fear it will be nothing but older Asian people (or younger Asian people) who are REALLY good at badminton, and dressed in pro badminton gear, and know all the rules, and I will feel out of place.

  • Beth S.

    Is Mr. Leong giving lessons? If so, I could not be more IN.