Sports Doing Good Newsletter, #278

Dec. 31 – Jan. 13, 2018

Welcome to issue two hundred and seventy-eight of the Sports Doing Good newsletter. This week’s 10 stories include:

  1. In 2018, Sports Can Build a Social Movement Better Than Politics
  2. ‘You Can Be a Pioneer’
  3. The N.B.A. General Manager Who’s a Food Blogger on the Side
  4. H&M launches new sustainable activewear line
  5. This U.S. men’s hockey star is set to make Olympic history.
  6. Marcus Smart’s #SammyStrong bond: ‘We have more to offer than just basketball’
  7. Mentorship Program Uses Snow, Skate, and Surf To Reach Youth
  8. Bills Fans’ Generosity: Meet the Families Being Helped by Donations to Andy Dalton’s Foundation
  9. Case Keenum is having the ultimate breakout, but we shouldn’t be surprised
  10. Michael Eisner Sketches a Happy Ending for Portsmouth F.C.

Afghanistan to compete in the Winter Olympics for the first time (Sport and Dev)
UEFA confirms social responsibility partners for next four years (Beyond Sport)
Performance Pressure: Olympian insight on crushing it (NAYS)
Ask the Expert: How Coaches Build Cohesive Teams, with Sports Psychologist Roberta Kraus, Ph.D. (TrueSport)
“It shouldn’t be a problem for any gay person to play football” (Sport and Dev)

We had a first-time occurrence in this, our first newsletter of 2018. One of the organizations highlighted for doing something good was in the news in the same week for doing something bad, very bad. H&M, the Swedish multinational clothing-retail company, stirred up controversy this week for publishing an ad for a sweatshirt they were selling. The ad, wildly offensive, especially to those of African-American or African descent, brought condemnation and immense pressure from individuals and organizations in the U.S. to correct the matter. H&M has since apologized for its egregious error and committed to improving when it comes to considering the perspectives and feelings of all people.

H&M is one of the stories featured this week for launching an activewear series made of recycled materials. In addition to H&M, we are proud to feature: an opinion piece on the power of sport to evoke change in 2018; NBA executive Becky Bonner, a former NCAA student-athlete who has worked her way to one of the top roles with an NBA team, just one of a growing number of women taking on executive responsibilities in the NBA; Rich Cho, the general manager of the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets and food blogger; ground-breaking U.S. Olympic hockey player Jordan Greenway; the strong bond between teenager Sammy Dubois and the Boston Celtics’ Marcus Smart; a  mentorship program designed to build character and leadership skills through action sports; the thousands of donations made by Buffalo Bills fan to the foundation of Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton; emerging NFL star Case Keenum; and how a lower-league football franchise looks to find its footing with the help of a former Disney CEO.

Finally, we want to highlight a program being run by Sports Doing Good supporters Alisha Greenberg and Todd Smith at John Hopkins.

The Sports Impact Leadership Certificate (SILC) is an unparalleled online training program at the intersection of sports and philanthropy in partnership with the Advanced Academic Programs at Johns Hopkins University.  SILC provides access to a network of top tier professionals, faculty, peers and organizations as well as professional development including essential tools, perspectives and meaningful relationships that will help you and your organization adapt and capitalize on future trends and opportunities.?

Spring 2018 enrollment is now open!  Join an information session on 1/18 or 2/6 to learn more and hear from faculty and students.  Contact us at, visit our website (linkto: and follow us on twitter (linkto: @SILC_UpYourGame). SILC

Please continue to send along your stories. You are both our audience and our best source of stories. Our Twitter handle is @sportsdoinggood, and you can find us at

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So, enjoy. And have a good week.

In 2018, Sports Can Build a Social Movement Better Than Politics
Common Goal, Super Bowl 50 and Sports Matter are early examples of what’s possible. But as the greatest convening force in existence, we see tremendous potential for sport to go even further. When a local sports team engages millions of people throughout its city, there are opportunities to create much greater connection to each other, to local youth sports programs, and to local issues — and in doing so, strengthen fan engagement and commercial opportunities. Token donations are no doubt welcomed with gratitude by charities, but sports fans have the power to effect real change by asking athletes, teams, even leagues as a whole to make their community involvement truly meaningful. When national leagues consider their vast reach and ability to coordinate activities, they should consider the opportunity to build big purpose-led shared missions that all their constituent teams, athletes, coaches, fans, sponsors and other stakeholders can support. And when major sponsors think about the massive investments they make in sports, they could think not just of creating brand impressions and experiences, but much deeper fan engagement and loyalty by enabling initiatives that really make a difference in people’s lives.

NFL ProtestImage via Wikimedia Commons

‘You Can Be a Pioneer’
Officially, Bonner is the Magic’s director of player development and quality control—tasked with everything from player appearances and facilities upgrades to scouting and player evaluation. Unofficially, she’s training to become a general manager—perhaps the first female GM in league history. On this night, Bonner is shepherding Magic players through Walmart. Tomorrow, she’ll be filing reports on a batch of draft prospects, then watching the Magic-Clippers game from the executive suite, alongside Magic president Jeff Weltman and GM John Hammond. In the weeks and months ahead, she’ll be in the Magic’s war room, offering input on free-agent targets or potential deals in advance of the Feb. 8 trade deadline. She will be the lone female voice in that room—and one of the few in the NBA, period.

PioneerAfter working in the NBA offices for six years, Becky Bonner was hired in June to do everything from scouting players to arranging team dinners.Photograph by Josh Letchworth for B/R Mag

The N.B.A. General Manager Who’s a Food Blogger on the Side
Cho, who’s five feet ten and slightly built, was wearing Jordan-brand sweats. (Michael Jordan, who owns the Hornets, is his boss.) When I asked him how he stayed thin despite his passion for eating, he shrugged. Cho only sleeps about a four hours a night, and he doesn’t drink alcohol or eat breakfast. He’s worked in the N.B.A. for more than two decades, starting as an intern with the Seattle Supersonics while he was still in law school. (Previously, he’d spent five years working as an engineer at Boeing.) As he climbed the league’s corporate ladder, travel became a bigger and bigger part of his job, and, like many N.B.A. employees, he began relying on room service and chain restaurants. He started asking hotel concierges for recommendations and, sometimes, soliciting suggestions from strangers on the street. He jotted down listings in notebooks, and the blank pages filled up. He created an Instagram account for his food finds, which became a hit among his peers.

Cellar BurgerThe Cellar Burger, from a Scouting Report on Bigtime Bites, the food blog that Rich Cho, the first Asian-American general manager in the N.B.A., launched earlier this year. Photograph Courtesy Rich Cho

H&M launches new sustainable activewear line
The clothes brand Hennes & Mauritz (H&M) has unveiled its most recent sustainability achievement, this time launching an activewear series made of recycled materials. The Conscious activewear line is predominately made from recycled polyester and elastane (lycra), and furthers H&M’s mission to close the production loop and become 100 percent circular. Petra Smeds, Head Designer of Sportswear at H&M, explained: “By bringing together the functional and feminine, the aim is to give customers a stylish, conscious sports collection. We also utilised a new knitting technique that creates seamless garments while using less yarn or fabric waste”. “Blending function with sustainable thinking and fashion in this way is the way forward”, she added. The collection features a wide range of sportswear products, including a range of tights, sports bras, hoodies and tops for training, running and yoga.

H&M(photo, H&M)

This U.S. men’s hockey star is set to make Olympic history.
Like many Winter Olympic sports, hockey is still very white, though its makeup is slowly changing. Greenway understands that no matter what happens later in his promising career, this moment represents a unique opportunity to inspire a younger generation. “I’ve been able to accomplish a lot of good things and just allowing a lot of African American kids who are younger than me who see kind of what I’m doing, I hope that can be an inspiration for them,” he told Sporting News. “Go out and do something different against the typical stereotypes that most African-Americans play basketball, or whatever the case is.” The profile notes that Greenway is just one of 13 African American athletes playing Division I men’s hockey, making up less than one percent of the total. When it comes to the pros, black athletes are represented slightly better, though they still account for just 2.29% of all players.

GreenwayJordan Greenway scores against Connor Ingram of Team Canada during a preliminary round game in the 2017 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship in 2016 in Toronto. The USA defeated Canada 3-1. Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images

Marcus Smart’s #SammyStrong bond: ‘We have more to offer than just basketball’
What’s no longer in question is Smart’s character. Inspired both by his brother Todd Westbrook’s battle with cancer and the dark path that a young Smart spiraled down in the aftermath of his brother’s passing, Smart started the YounGameChanger Foundation, which aims to help families of chronically ill children while also providing a guiding voice to inner-city athletes. Smart laid himself bare in his acceptance speech at the Shamrock Gala. He spoke of Westbrook and his father-like impact on a young Smart. He detailed how, at 9 years old, Smart told his mother that all he wanted for the holidays was to spend one final Christmas with Westbrook, whose health was failing. That year, Smart’s brothers surprised Marcus with his first basketball hoop. And Smart still smiles now, cherishing that his wish came true in receiving one final Christmas as a family. Westbrook lost a 15-year battle with leukemia at age 33 on Jan. 9, 2004.

SmartSammy Dubois joined Marcus Smart on stage at the 2017 Champion for Children’s event, where Smart was honored by Boston Children’s Hospital. Darren McCollester/Getty Images for Boston Children’s Hospital

Mentorship Program Uses Snow, Skate, and Surf To Reach Youth
“Any activity fueled by physical activity, passion, and community — and using your hands to build things — is developing a part of your brain that I believe our society is missing out on right now,” Larosiliere says. Because of its unique model of connecting professionals from a variety of creative fields with youth through a shared love of action sports, Stoked has become more than a mentoring program. It’s grown to become a design-thinking community of leaders that includes athletes, creatives, and media executives all mobilized around the life-changing ideas that can be sparked when great minds come together. While gaining experience on the slopes, many of the kids have found themselves on the precipice of potential new careers in design, photography, and branding. “Stoked really attracts a lot of creative people, so this evolved naturally,” Larosiliere says. “Our kids wanted more than just to learn how to snowboard, skate, and surf. They were learning all these new skills and felt like they wanted to do more, and wanted to be more, and be more closely aligned with their mentors’ industries.”

StokedPhoto courtesy of Stoked.

Bills Fans’ Generosity: Meet the Families Being Helped by Donations to Andy Dalton’s Foundation
Thanks to the outpouring of support from Western New York and elsewhere, Stanfield says that Andy and Jordan are thinking of ways they could use some of the money to help children specifically in the Buffalo community. That would coincide with a spike in Dalton’s popularity in Buffalo. Since the Bengals’ win on New Year’s Eve, Stanfield has received several requests from Buffalo-based companies with interest in doing marketing deals with Dalton as well as speaking requests from the Buffalo area for the Cincinnati quarterback. One of the foundation’s largest donors organized five digital billboards in the Buffalo area last week, each featuring a smiling Andy and Jordan Dalton thanking Bills fans for their generous donations. Families like the Muskopfs and the Tuckers have their own thank you messages to share for fans who may not know the real impact of their donation.

DaltonBrody with Andy Dalton. Courtesy Andy and Jordan Dalton Foundation

Case Keenum is having the ultimate breakout, but we shouldn’t be surprised
Not bad for a former Houston Texans practice-squad arm and deposed Los Angeles Rams starter who arrived in March with a 9-15 career record and an upside the Vikings thought was worth a mere one-year deal for a lousy $2 million plus incentives. But this staggering run comes as no surprise to Keenum or to his supporters, who were just as confused when he had just one Division I offer out of high school as they were when he went undrafted in 2012. Keenum is not driven to prove the doubters wrong half as much as he’s driven to prove those true believers right. The believers are multiplying by the week. Keenum has already made himself a lot of money this season, no matter what happens against the Saints on Sunday — people up and down the Vikings’ organization would concede that much, even if some would rather not pay up. An executive from another team who has watched six recent game films of Keenum predicted some franchise will offer him $20 million a year, and that the quarterback would likely leave the Vikings if they offer him $15 million a pop.

KeenumCase Keenum’s 67.6 completion percentage was second only to Drew Brees in the regular season. Geoff Burke/USA TODAY Sports

Michael Eisner Sketches a Happy Ending for Portsmouth F.C.
That is partly what made Eisner’s offer so tempting to Portsmouth that 87 percent of the fan-owners backed it: the fact that he is very definitely real. “That he is well-known helped,” said Simon Colebrook, the chairman of the Pompey Supporters’ Trust. “We know where he comes from and where his money comes from. He has a public reputation to maintain, so if he does the dirty on us, he has something to lose.” But it also may be what made Portsmouth so attractive to Eisner: the sense that there is a story here to be told, something to build, a team to take from the depths to the heights. That is the narrative arc of the sports movies he knows so well, after all — the small made mighty, the underdog rising from obscurity to greatness. It is a story into which Eisner has thrown himself. The little things hint at his commitment. He says “pitch,” not “field.” He pronounces Portsmouth, as the British do, with the emphasis on the first syllable, not the last, as most outsiders might.

PortsmouthPortsmouth and Northampton Town players before a League One match earlier this season at Fratton Park, Portsmouth’s evocative but crumbling home. Credit Rob Stothard for The New York Times

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Our goal is to have Sports Doing Good be a portal housing original content and excerpts from and links to the increasing number of articles, websites, video, and other media that showcase the good in sports and society. We aim to celebrate those concepts, activities, events, and individuals by highlighting them for a wider audience. Much of the news today, whether sports- related or not, is incredibly negative and increasingly polarizing, biased, and quite annoying. We are trying to refocus some of the discussion on the good, with a focus on sports.

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