Reading a terrific tribute to Tom McEwen, the longtime sports columnist and editor of the Tampa Tribune who passed away recently, I was reminded of what I want to accomplish above all in this business: to write stories that make people think, to chronicle the sports scene wherever I am in a way that leaves a lasting impression.

A few lines from Joey Johnston’s June 5 story in the Tampa Tribune highlight this point. They are simple reminders of the value of prolific reporting on any subject, doing so with passion while holding nothing back.

Johnston wrote:

“Tom didn’t look to create dirt,” said former Bucs executive Jery Angelo, now general manager of the Chicago Bears. …

“He saw a bigger picture. He knew he had to be critical and analytical, bu the didn’t believe in piling on and hurting people. He’s an icon. We were the lowly Bucs a lot of those years, showing his face, doing his job and doing it with class and fairness.”

I have no interest in being an icon, but the other qualities that Angelo used to describe McEwen are ones I hope people see in my work as a sports writer and columnist.

Covering the bj-league has been an incredible challenge, what with eight teams  the first season I was in Japan in 2006-07 to a projected 20 (depending on the Tokyo Apache’s status) for 2011-12. Nothing has stayed the same. Which hasn’t meant that it’s time to stop asking tough questions and covering the league with thorough reporting, writing on all facets of its operation.

When a reader told me “The Japan Times is the only paper showing people the truth about this league,” it brings a smile to my face. Satisfaction.

And it’s motivation to keep doing what I’ve been doing.