Growing up a huge basketball fan, the Los Angeles Lakers have always been an important part of Jonathan Cha‘s life. As an undergrad, he worked at his school’s radio station and talked basketball on the air. Then after enrolling in Full Sail’s online Creative Writing MFA program, he started polishing his writing chops by contributing to several basketball blogs. At the beginning of the 2013-14 NBA season last Fall, he decided to branch out on his own by launching HoopLAL.com, a site completely devoted to the Los Angeles Lakers.
“I thought by starting my own site, I wouldn’t just have to write the typical game summaries and previews,” says Jonathan, who was an English teacher before studying at Full Sail. “I thought I could expand what I was looking at.”
Jonathan’s goal with HoopLAL is to write for hardcore Lakers fans, but break stuff down so that a casual fan can understand the deeper ins and outs of the game too. The site includes expert in-depth analysis into every game, stories about relevant Lakers issues like the rise and fall of ticket prices, and one of the most interesting features – a curated feed of Tweets from other Lakers fans and experts that complement Jonathan’s longer posts. It’s a practice he worked on refining while interning for Bob Helman at website The Daily Deets.
“The beauty of really going deep into Laker fan tweets is that I get to truly express how a fan is thinking,” says Jonathan. “I look for the comedic and professional voices of the fans. I get to see what other people are thinking and show that instead of just rehashing it. It’s fun because I get to share in the conversation.”
The 2012 graduate spends anywhere from 30 minutes to five hours a day researching and writing for the site, scouring the Internet for information that readers can’t find in an average write-up. He plans on continuing to cover Lakers news in the offseason, along as news about the WNBA as well. The blog isn’t Jonathan’s only current endeavor: he copy edits for non-profits and other early stage companies, he’s interning with SXSW Interactive, and he’s in the process of finishing up a few different screenplays. And if that wasn’t enough, he’d love to write a novel too.
“I spent my undergrad time vocalizing basketball, and the MFA degree really inspired me to think, ‘Hey why don’t I just write it down,'” says Jonathan. “It gave me the confidence to do it on my own, and helped me figure out how I can make the written word hopefully jump off the page. I hope people see it as Laker literature.”