March 11 – March 24, 2018
Welcome to issue two hundred and eighty-three of the Sports Doing Good newsletter. This week’s 10 stories include:
- NBA, NBPA taking steps to further address mental wellness issues for players
- This All-Girl Hockey Team In Harlem Is Changing The Game
- What Happens When Athletes Do the Sportswriting?
- Panthers goalie, Parkland resident Roberto Luongo: ‘We need to keep talking about this’
- Baseball’s ‘wannabe environmentalist’ thrives with a fastball that doesn’t have any gas
- The Toughest Call of My Life (by Jalen Moore)
- Meditation App Headspace Inks Content Partnership with NBA
- Manchester United to launch women’s team
- How Charley Pride Went From Negro League Ballplayer to Country Music’s Jackie Robinson
- Being UMBC: Inside 72 hours of college basketball’s biggest upset
Five reasons to celebrate the fifth International Day of Sport for Development and Peace (IDSDP) (Sport and Dev)
Peace and Sport Launches the 2018 #WhiteCard Campaign With Didier Drogba (Peace and Sport)
Spanish Sports Council joins country’s first football anti-homophobia campaign (Beyond Sport)
Introducing Lipscomb (Lipscomb University men’s basketball) (The Players’ Tribune)
Man on a Mission: Coach Gari Harvey’s Journey to Inspire Youth (Up2Us Sports)
Stories about injuries or permanent physical disabilities and the resiliency, commitment and determination of those who overcome any limitations are commonplace in Sports Doing Good newsletters and other media. We all love hearing about someone working to their full potential, often proving naysayers wrong.
Mental health stories have appeared here as well, though not as often. However, we see a trend occurring, with athletes, including those still playing, speaking out about a host of mental health issues, including depression and anxiety. This is no small change on the landscape. An understanding of the array of mental health issues and how they impact individuals and their family, friends, and co-workers is still emerging. Not everyone can grasp a concept of a mental “injury” and the fact that in that world, healing must also take place and requires patience.
Three of the ten stories this week touch upon the issue of mental health. The NBA and the Players’ Association announced a new effort addressing mental health wellness. This comes on the heels of two All-Star players, Kevin Love and DeMar DeRozan, articulating for the general public some of the battles they have been facing. We also feature a story of up and coming player Jalen Moore, who upon realizing his dream of being on an NBA team, decided to step away from the game to handle his own mental health condition. Finally, we offer a story of a new partnership the NBA has taken on with the company Headspace that taps into the world of apps and mental health/meditation.
The other stories we feature this week include: an all-girls ice hockey team in Harlem, NY; athletes now penning their own issue-driven articles; veteran hockey goalie Roberto Luongo and Parkland, FL resident and his embrace of the Stoneman Douglas HS hockey team; budding MLB pitcher and “wannabe environmentalist” Brent Suter; the launch of a women’s team by one of the world’s biggest soccer clubs, Manchester United; long ago baseball player and still country music legend Charley Pride; and the amazing 72 hours that took place around the miracle upset pulled off by UMBC in the NCAA tournament.
Finally, we want to remind everyone that April 6, 2018 is the fifth International Day of Sport for Development and Peace (IDSDP). One of the campaigns that we love that is tied to that day and mission is the #White Card sponsored by Peace and Sport, a symbol of the peace-through-sport movement which promotes the positive and constructive values of sport. Whether it is showing a #white card or engaging in another effort, let’s do what we can to fulfill the potential of the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace.
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NBA, NBPA taking steps to further address mental wellness issues for players
For years, the NBA left decisions about players’ fitness to play in games while dealing with mental wellness issues to the individual team’s physicians, many of whom were not experts in mental health. The Dallas Mavericks were the first team, in 2000, to employ a full-time psychologist, Dr. Don Kalkstein, as the Director of Sport Psychology/Mental Skills. But now, many teams do. The Indiana Pacers, for example, hired Dr. Chris Carr as their Team Performance Psychologist in 2011. He has an office at the team’s practice facility, and frequently travels with the team on the road. “I think he’s a tremendous resource for all our guys,” Pacers GM Kevin Pritchard said Sunday. “At some level, everybody uses him for a sounding board, some deeper than others. We give our players full access. We talked about it early, and our players feel like it’s important, too. Not only do we give them the resource, but they have to use it.” Pritchard says the team is not privy to the details of conversations Carr has with team employees — which are not limited to the players. “We all want to have a stake in our players’ health and wellness. We don’t look at them as just players; we look at them as human beings. We want to help not only our players, but our coaches, everybody. Dr. Carr is not just with the players. He helps us all communicate better.”
This All-Girl Hockey Team In Harlem Is Changing The Game
Still, Ice Hockey in Harlem’s founders believed every kid deserves a chance to play. Making hockey just one component of the program, they tied participation in the game to mandatory weekly classes in math and geography. They launched with a small group of neighborhood children, one that quickly doubled in size. A clinic by hockey great Wayne Gretzky changed everything. Now closely connected to the New York Rangers and increasingly to the National Women’s Hockey League and its Metropolitan Riveters, Ice Hockey in Harlem currently trains 240 kids, and 76 of them are girls. Lady Harlem was born when coaches noticed that some teenage girls no longer wanted to play on the boys’ teams. “We also had a really gung-ho group of girls who were 10,” says program director Brad Preston. “Even though they would have been fine playing with boys at 11 and 12 and maybe later, we thought, let’s get them their own team and see if that works for them.” This season, Lady Harlem hosted teams at Lasker and traveled north to play. “It’s really fun to play hockey, and it’s always a little bit more fun when you win,” says head coach Amanda Adams. Adams played at Yale and coached Division I hockey. “One thing you want to teach girls is to be competitive,” she says. “And that going after each other is a good thing and not a boy trait. That’s a huge life skill.
What Happens When Athletes Do the Sportswriting?
Three years on, The Players’ Tribune has become a regular source of breaking news: Kevin Durant announced his league-upheaving move to Golden State in July 2016 with an essayistic memo, which then become a recurring format. In November 2015, Kobe Bryant announced his retirement via 11 stanzas of spare, Japanese-style poetry, which, unfortunately, did not. And confessional pieces like Thomas’s, written by N.H.L. also-rans and Brazilian soccer stars alike, have regularly gone viral. At its helm is Jeter, who spent 20 years in New York saying nothing to the press. He is an athlete famed, almost revered, for blankness. But the fact that he played in that Yankees spotlight for as long as he did and mostly avoided off-the-field notoriety suggests that Jeter might possess some hidden guile. After all, The Players’ Tribune represents the first truly new wrinkle in sportswriting in a decade. But what is it, exactly? It’s not fair to call it P.R. The access it provides is genuine. But you can’t really get around one tricky fact: When you give the subject the final cut, you can’t call it journalism either. Perhaps The Players’ Tribune can be best understood as an effort by athletes to seize that most precious contemporary commodity — the narrative.
Panthers goalie, Parkland resident Roberto Luongo: ‘We need to keep talking about this’
“It was days after [the shootings] happened, and I was surprised by how strong the kids were,” Luongo said. “They were able to have normal interactions. I’d be a mess if I were them.” Three days later, fourth-seeded Stoneman Douglas staved off elimination in the state tournament by upsetting the top-seeded team, then won again for a state championship. “We were super-jacked to see them win that championship. How they put together that performance is amazing,” Luongo said. “It’s really inspiring to see the strength you can gather from something like that and turn it into something positive.” When Luongo and I spoke on Friday, Florida Gov. Rick Scott had just signed a bill that imposed a 21-year-old legal age requirement and three-day waiting period on gun purchases and opened the door for some school employees to be armed. Luongo, 38, has no qualms about speaking out. After all, he engineers one of the NHL’s most candid Twitter accounts, @Strombone1. He has been careful not to say anything too divisive, however. “I didn’t want to get too political,” he said. “That wasn’t what it was about at the time. I wanted to get my message across. That wasn’t the purpose. At the same time, something needs to be done. The bill, that’s a huge step in the right direction. Hopefully there will be more in the future. The focus needs to be keeping our kids safe.”
After the Stoneman Douglas hockey team capped its run with a win in the Statewide Amateur Hockey of Florida tournament, the players celebrated with the Stanley Cup — and Panthers executive Shawn Thornton, a two-time Cup winner — at the BB&T Center. Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images
Baseball’s ‘wannabe environmentalist’ thrives with a fastball that doesn’t have any gas
What may surprise is that Suter also had teammates who love engaging with him in the sort of civil discourse that barely exists anymore. Over coffee and omelets, Suter, Anderson and minor leaguers Jon Perrin and Kyle Wren will discuss the environment, politics, philosophy, religion. Sometimes it’s the news of the day. Others it’s whatever they’re reading. “This is one of the last places where you can talk openly about your background, what your beliefs are, have conversations with people from totally different backgrounds and even if you disagree, at the end of the day you still can be friends,” said Wren, a teammate of Suter’s for three years. “You’re still going out on the field and playing for each other. And I think that’s something our society has gotten away from. Just because you disagree doesn’t mean you can’t like each other.” Currently, Wren is reading “The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels,” and he sent a picture of the book’s cover to Suter, who responded with an upside-down smiley-face emoji. Even if Wren finds himself the near-ideological opposite of Suter when it comes to the environment – he acknowledges climate change but doesn’t believe its dangers are imminent – their conversations stir something the game may not.
The Toughest Call of My Life (by Jalen Moore)
Then one day this summer I sat down with my phone in hand and I googled the word anxiety. I remember how embarrassing it was to even type. Then I saw the symptoms. Fatigue, sweating, heightened heart rate, unwanted thoughts. I pretty much checked all of the boxes. They were all the same things I was going through. Defining the problem didn’t help at first. That whole summer I’d start to have panic attacks in random places — I could be walking through the mall, eating with my friends, anywhere. I know it’s awkward to say, but if I thought too much about myself, I’d lose it. If I closed my eyes and said to myself, How are you feeling, Jalen? … in five minutes I’d have to be back in my room, lying in my bed. It was supposed to be the best summer of my life, the summer before the NBA. People probably saw me as the star of the basketball team. The guy who was going pro. That summer, everyone would come up to me to say hello. You know, Logan is where I grew up and where I went to college, so I’d get recognized everywhere. And everybody was so nice. “Good luck in the league, Jalen” … “You’re the man, Jalen.” Inside, I felt like I was keeping a huge secret.
Meditation App Headspace Inks Content Partnership with NBA
The decision to partner up with the NBA is primarily a marketing play for Headspace, which gets between 75% and 80% of its users through word-of-mouth referrals, said Steven Clark, the vice president of corporate communications for Headspace. This deal is an attempt to take meditation out of the realm of chanting and incense and into the familiar, everyday territory of the basketball court. The NBA App has been downloaded 42 million times, the league said. Content produced by NBA and Headspace will also be shared across the NBA’s social media platforms, which the league says have more than 1.4 billion likes and followers globally. This isn’t the first deal Headspace has struck in the realm of sports. Earlier this month, Headspace announced a partnership with Nike to provide the sportswear company with guided running meditation. The content features Mr. Puddicombe talking runners through their training and mental state to help increase their performance.
Arianna Huffington, the founder of HuffPost, and “Morning Joe” co-host Mika Brzezinski look on as Headspace founder Andy Puddicombe speaks onstage. Headspace announced this morning a partnership with the National Basketball Association. Photo: (D Dipasupil, Getty)
Manchester United to launch women’s team
United scrapped its women’s team in 2005 and it is one of the few top-tier clubs that does not currently have representation in the female game. The likes of Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool all currently have teams playing in the WSL. United does have junior women’s teams and works with local schools and community groups to develop players through its foundation. The club also holds a partnership with the South Manchester Girls’ Football League. Manchester United vice-chairman Ed Woodward said: “The FA has provided excellent support through the process and we believe that launching a team in WSL2 would give many more of our graduates from the Regional Talent Club the chance to establish themselves as first team players. “The Manchester United women’s team must be built in the same image and with the same principles as the men’s first team and offer academy players a clear route to top level football within the club.” The FA in September announced reform plans for the WSL, with a fully professional top tier to be introduced from the 2018-19 season.
How Charley Pride Went From Negro League Ballplayer to Country Music’s Jackie Robinson
Baseball and country music, America’s most celebrated forms of popular art, have much in common: They are best enjoyed on the radio, in the summer, with the windows down; they are homespun and freewheeling in theory but held rigid in reality by unwritten codes; their most gifted practitioners come up from obscurity and poverty to reach fame and fortune … but not without first paying their dues in a series of seedy honky-tonks or crumbling minor-league parks, many of them located in the very same crumbling American towns. At Texas Rangers camp in Surprise, Ariz., on a bright day early last March, there are more aspiring baseball players than any team could ever need. Some of them probably stand a better chance at singing country songs than ever playing in Arlington. If they need confirmation of that, they can ask Charley Pride, who is at camp almost every morning. Everyone here knows him. He’s a Mississippi-born pitcher and outfielder, a switch-hitter, sturdy and in good shape but a little past his physical prime. Don’t blame him; he’s doing the best he can. This spring he turned 84.
Being UMBC: Inside 72 hours of college basketball’s biggest upset
When said sacrificial lamb took the court against Virginia in its NCAA opener Friday night, none of that felt like it really mattered. The Retrievers were footnotes. The kids in black and gold were just going to play their game, get a few cute mentions on social media, take their lumps from the No. 1 team in the land and go back home to Baltimore, right? Wrong. It all mattered. By the time they were done, UMBC wasn’t just on America’s radar, it became America’s team. Its Twitter account went from 5,000 followers to 100,000. Its players wore special shoes sent by Steph Curry. The Retrievers went from the NCAA’s most anonymous bunch to living out scenes straight out of “Hard Day’s Night.” So, how it did go down? How did they feel as it happened? Here’s a timeline of tales told from inside the 72-hour Rise of the Retrievers.