Sports Doing Good Newsletter, #299

Oct. 21 – Nov. 3, 2018

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

  1. Where Training for the New York City Marathon Is a Reality Show
  2. Principal for a day: Caron Butler shares his story, inspires students
  3. Derrick Rose breaks down in tears after stunning 50-point performance
  4. From trash to triumph: the inspiring story of Thailand’s Rocky Balboa
  5. Refugee Olympic Team to compete at Tokyo 2020
  6. She Made History as NASCAR’s 1st Black Woman on Pit Crew—Then She Met Her Idol
  7. The Relish Launches Video Broadcasting App to Empower Underrepresented Fans
  8. ‘Just run’ — trailblazing marathoner Marilyn Bevans met the challenges and became a champion
  9. Formula One teams race to help beat Alzheimer’s
  10. Assistant U.S. attorney Tina Ament is setting records as a blind triathlete

#ThanksCoach Fundraising Campaign in honor of National Coach Appreciation Day (Up2Us Sports)
NFL and NBA Athletes Come Together to Combat Water Poverty (Beyond Sport)
Can I Get a Snell Yeah?! (by Benny Snell Jr.) (The Players’ Tribune)
Tanni: Let’s share the ‘secret’ of sport for development
Twinning Project pairs football clubs with prisons to Combat reoffending (Beyond Sport)

We present again our “Featured Video” offering(s). With the explosion of video content out there highlighting the good in sport, we want to showcase such content for your enjoyment and learning. This will be an ongoing effort.

Purveyor of Fun: Miles Plumlee Leans on Burning Man Experience to Lead Hawks
Turning Science Fiction Into Robotic Realities

A not-at-all uncommon viewpoint of pro athletes is that their lives are perfect, with endless amounts of fame and fortune awaiting them when they wake up. “How could they be upset or depressed about anything?” But of course, it is not so one-sided. Not every pro athlete makes a lot of money, and for those who do, their lives are far from perfect. They do have emotions and sometimes such emotion can get our attention.

A pro athlete who has experienced the highs and lows of that life is Derrick Rose. An elite basketball player in high school, he starred at Memphis, and then was the first pick in the NBA draft. Rose saw early success, earning MVP honors just a few years after joining the NBA. He was destined to have a Hall of Fame career and make boatloads of money from his playing contracts and endorsements (see his deal with Adidas). However, Rose suffered a major injury in 2012 and his career has been a series of ups and downs since, as evidenced by his short tenures with teams over the past four years. Many felt the “D Rose” of 2010-11 was lost for good.

Well, “D Rose” showed up this week when he went off for 50 points, a record point total for him. After the game, Rose was choked up with emotion talking about how he just wanted to work hard and wanted to lead by example. Players all throughout the league went on social media to shout out to Derrick. In this week’s newsletter, we wanted to do the same.

The other stories we are happy to feature this week include a look at: a unique training program in preparation for the New York City marathon; former NBA star Caron Butler inspiring young kids; WBC super flyweight champion Srisaket Sor Rungvisai from Thailand; the IOC’s commitment to field another “Refugee Team” for the 2020 Summer Olympic Games; NASCAR pit crew pioneer Brehanna Daniels; a pioneering sports media company, The Relish; trailblazing marathoner Marilyn Bevans; how Formula One teams are becoming involved in the fight against Alzheimer’s; and the amazing triathlete, and U.S. attorney Tina Ament, who just happens to be blind.

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So, enjoy. And have a good week.

Where Training for the New York City Marathon Is a Reality Show
This may sound counterintuitive; after all, what football team opens its playbook to an opponent before the Super Bowl? The NAZ Elite approach to strategy and data, however, illustrates that there are no real secrets or shortcuts to success in long distance running anymore. It is also a new concept for how top runners can subsist and thrive in a sport that has massive participation but relatively few fans. The idea is to present not just the triumphs in competing and training but the trials and the failures, too — for runners to be something more than just their trophies. “If you don’t believe that is part of the job of being a professional runner today then you don’t get it,” Ben Rosario, the club’s head coach, said over beers and tostadas at a downtown bistro here in the high desert recently. “We don’t have a machine behind us like the N.F.L. or the N.B.A.” This twist on the usual secrecy of elite running clubs is Rosario’s brainchild. He is an Olympic Trials marathon qualifier who founded the Big River Running Company, a running specialty store in St. Louis. As he moved into coaching and decided he wanted to lead a club for the best of the best runners, he realized he needed to offer more to a shoe company than victories if he was going to persuade one to sponsor his efforts.

NAZFrom left, Scott Smith, Stephanie Bruce, Erin Clark, Scott Fauble and Danielle Shanahan warm up on Oct. 17 in Camp Verde, Ariz. Credit Caitlin O’Hara for The New York Times

Principal for a day: Caron Butler shares his story, inspires students
Roosevelt Principal Gabriel Lopez Jaurequi took Butler around the school to visit classrooms and to have other more personal moments with students. “Him being from Racine, growing up here, attending Racine Unified schools, it means a lot,” Jaurequi said. Butler’s troubled background, Jaurequi said, and how he was able to change his life has an impact on the students. Having the students focus on goals at a young age, Jaurequi said, could pay off down the road. “They can be whatever they want to be as long as they set their goals,” Jaurequi said. “They can dream big and work toward those goals, and they can accomplish anything. And (Butler) is someone they can see as a role model.” Taking Butler around the school was a pleasure, Jaurequi said, adding he could see the excitement in students’ faces when Butler shook their hand or gave them a high five. “It’s nice walking around with him and seeing the looks on the kids’ faces,” Jaurequi said. “He’s welcome to come back any time he wants.”

Butler CaronRacine native and two-time NBA All-Star Caron Butler spent some time on Tuesday being “principal for a day” at Roosevelt Elementary School. Ricardo Torres.

Derrick Rose breaks down in tears after stunning 50-point performance
Since winning the NBA’s MVP award in 2011, Derrick Rose’s story has been mostly about his dispiriting descent into an afterthought, as severe injuries robbed him of his explosiveness and he began a journeyman’s shuffle from team to team. Wednesday night found the 10th-year guard breaking down in tears — but only after submitting one of the season’s most stunning performances, a 50-point explosion to lead his Timberwolves past the Jazz. After burying his head in a towel to gather himself, Rose was asked what reaching that point total, a career high, meant to him. “Everything, man,” he replied, “I worked my a– off.”  “I did this for the franchise, the organization, the fans, everybody,” he added. “I’m doing everything just to win, and tonight was a hell of a night.” In addition to hitting 19 of 31 shots to reach his 50 points, Rose had six assists, four rebounds and a crucial block on the Jazz’s attempt at a game-tying three-pointer in the closing seconds. Following Minnesota’s 128-125 triumph, Rose was mobbed by teammates as warm salutes poured forth online from other players around the league.

D Rose 50An emotional Derrick Rose discusses his performance against the Jazz. (Jim Mone/Associated Press)

From trash to triumph: the inspiring story of Thailand’s Rocky Balboa
“I got recommended by a guy to try boxing. I didn’t like boxing that much back then because I thought it wasn’t fun,” he recalled. “[But] I needed the money very badly, so I accepted the fight even though I didn’t have much time to prepare and didn’t really know how to box. I just knew that boxing has similarities to Muay Thai.” The transition to boxing was not easy. He was knocked out during his first two bouts in 2009. Sor Rungvisai was about to throw in the towel as a pugilist, but he thought of his family back home in Sisaket. “There were only two paths to choose for me at that time,” he shared. “One was to become a boxer and the other one was to keep on working as a trash collector, and I chose the path to become a boxer because there’s more hope at least. There’s some hope in this career.” Due to his string of setbacks, there was the possibility that he could fall into a mediocre journeyman’s career—but he had more pride in himself than to accept that he would. Sor Rungvisai did not post a win until his fourth professional match in November 2009 when he scored a third-round knockout over compatriot Prakaipech Aunsawan. After suffering another loss in the hands of Japanese fighter Kenji Oba in February 2010, Sor Rungvisai joined Nakornloung Promotion, a renowned boxing stable and promotion that has produced a fair share of Thailand’s distinguished world champions in sports such as Suriyan Sor Rungvisai, Veerapol Nakornloung and Sirimongkol Singwancha. “The third time I lost was in Japan. At the airport, I told myself I would never get hurt again. And it never happened again after that day,” he said.

RungvisaiThe Thai champ fighting against Iran “MagnifiKO” Diaz from Mexico last October 6 in Bangkok.

Refugee Olympic Team to compete at Tokyo 2020
Since the modern Olympics began in 1896, over 200 national teams have vied for glory at the Summer and Winter Games. In 2016, for the first time, a team of refugees competed as well. Ten refugee athletes from four countries came together in Rio de Janeiro, as the Refugee Olympic Team. Among them were two swimmers, two judokas, a marathon runner and five middle-distance runners competing under the IOC flag, highlighting the IOC’s continued commitment to the refugee cause. The announcement that refugee athletes would compete in Tokyo was welcomed by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi. “In 2016, the Rio refugee team captured the imagination of people around the world and showed the human side of the global refugee crisis through sport,” Grandi said in a statement. “I’m delighted that this tradition is to continue in Tokyo. Giving these exceptional young people the opportunity to compete at the very highest levels is admirable.” The athletic prowess and resilience of the Refugee Olympic Team in Rio was a tribute to the courage and perseverance of all refugees – at a time when the number of people displaced by violence and persecution was at the highest level since the Second World War.

Refugees 2020Refugee athletes share the stage with IOC President Thomas Bach at the Olympism in Action Forum in Buenos Aires. © UNHCR/Lorey Campese

She Made History as NASCAR’s 1st Black Woman on Pit Crew—Then She Met Her Idol
Daniels welcomes being a source of pride and a face of change. She embraces her role in helping to remake the way people look at a sport that is actively recruiting and training through its Drive for Diversity program, which specializes in transforming athletes—football players and hoopers among them—into trailblazing pit-crew members. And in a new Bleacher Report short film for B/REAL, a new inspirational miniseries that connects real-life heroes with all-star athletes through life-changing surprises, Daniels takes us into her daily grind, revealing why she’s one of the most ambitious individuals a sports fan can encounter. “Personal role models would definitely be my mother—just seeing a person go through that much and still not give up,” Daniels says of her mom, who died from cancer in 2009. “Athletic role models? Candace Parker—she did it all, so I really looked up to her, definitely basketball-wise, growing up…she was a versatile player, she was just a go-getter in general, so it’d be super cool to meet her one day, too.”


The Relish Launches Video Broadcasting App to Empower Underrepresented Fans
The Relish, a sports media company founded and led by women and targeted at underrepresented fans, launched a new video-based app on Thursday that enables users to add color commentary on sports-related topics. Since its founding less than two years ago, The Relish has served as a media company with a heavy focus on video that has produced content relevant to female fans. That content has mostly lived on third-party social media sites, notably Facebook, and in a semi-weekly newsletter emailed to users. The launch of this app (currently only available on iOS) represents the next stage of its strategy to build an ecosystem for underrepresented fans with its own products. The hope is that this will help the company to wean itself off social media as a primary publishing platform, enabling it to more easily monetize its newsletter subscribers and the 35,000-plus people who currently follow its Facebook page.

RelishScreenshots of The Relish’s social video app. (Photo by Marielle Balogh, courtesy of The Relish)

‘Just run’ — trailblazing marathoner Marilyn Bevans met the challenges and became a champion
Her running life is a litany of firsts: In 1975, Bevans became the first African-American woman to win a marathon. Her time, made not too far from her hometown of Baltimore, was 3:04:32 at the George Washington’s Birthday Marathon in Beltsville, Maryland. That same year, she finished fourth at the Boston Marathon, the most prestigious marathon in the world, and became the first African-American woman to run sub-three hours with a time of 2:55:52. In 1977, she finished second and became the first African-American woman to medal in Boston, with a time of 2:51:12. But Bevans, now 69, didn’t only defeat the competition on race day, she won against generational bigotry. Her journey set the world on notice that African-American runners weren’t just sprinters. Also, there was no Title IX back then, and track and field wasn’t offered in Bevans’ high school. However, she persevered. And forced people to question their perceptions of what it means to be an American black female distance runner — while also inspiring today’s runners. At the Roxy, Bevans was joined by her friend and fellow runner Donna Lewis, as well as by Dannielle McNeilly, Sharada Maddox, Erica Stanley-Dottin and (co-founder) Knox Robinson — all athletes from the New York-based running crew Black Roses NYC. The topic of discussion: Who is Marilyn Bevans?


Formula One teams race to help beat Alzheimer’s
Formula One teams from McLaren and Red Bull Racing will act as mentors to the scientists and show how their research techniques can be applied to the laboratory. It is hoped the teams behind a racing driver’s success will be able to also promote a collaborative and dynamic culture to speed up the pace of discoveries. The move follows Sir Jackie and his family’s experiences of seeing his wife, Lady Helen Stewart, suffer from the condition. She was diagnosed with the condition four years ago which resulted in Sir Jacke’s family’s world being “turned upside down”. He said: “The Race Against Dementia is the greatest challenge of my life, but with the right people and the right approach we can encourage and accelerate a new way of thinking and cross the finish line with success. “With these new research fellowships, we want to attract the best new talent from every corner of the world and not only catalyse their research with funding, but to throw open the door to a whole range of opportunities that will support a can-do mindset and accelerate a new generation of scientists to beat this horrendous illness.”

Formula 1Formula One teams will mentor new research fellows Credit: Charles Coates/ Getty Images Europe

Assistant U.S. attorney Tina Ament is setting records as a blind triathlete
Ament, 56, is an Ironman triathlete, long-distance cyclist and former college and club rower who lives in Alexandria, Virginia. A graduate of Yale and Stanford Law School, she is an assistant U.S. attorney in Washington, D.C., handling criminal appeal cases. She has accomplished all of that despite being born with Leber congenital amaurosis, a genetic disorder that her sister also has. As a girl, she had limited vision. She could do flip turns in the pool and ride horses. But over time her vision deteriorated. Now she is totally blind. Yet despite her limited vision as a kid, Ament wasn’t allowed to sit around on the couch. “My parents wouldn’t put up with that,” she says. They told her she had to be active. She joined a swim team, but wasn’t very good. In school, she had to take physical education classes like everybody else but says it was a terrible experience. She remembers the futility of being forced to play volleyball when she couldn’t see the ball. “Gym class back then was kind of an ordeal for a lot of folks, especially girls,” she recalls. “In co-ed gym class, you kind of got bullied by all the guys, and if you weren’t like a superjock, you were made fun of. And if you were a blind not-superjock, you really got made fun of.”

AmentTina Ament, right, and guide Caroline Gaynor, tethered at the wrist, near the finish of a triathlon in Western Australia. James Spencer

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