Sports Doing Good Newsletter, #300

Nov. 4 – Nov. 17, 2018

Welcome to issue three hundred of the Sports Doing Good newsletter. This week’s 10 stories include:

  1. Why the NBA community has gotten serious about getting out the vote
  2. Golden Knights Team Lawyer Works To Increase Women In Sports Leadership Roles
  3. Sports Analytics in the Classroom: How One Computer Science Professor is Changing the Game
  4. Searching for the Next Bobby Fischer, the U.S. Finds Fabi
  5. The heroic story and incredible comeback of a football star
  6. ‘Fight Club’ with better jokes: Inside Garry Shandling’s secret pickup game
  7. How the Adaptive Lacrosse Movement Has Increased Access to the Sport
  8. 2018 RWJF Sports Award Winners Announced: Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy, The Sanneh Foundation, and Soccer Without Borders
  9. How the Flyers Created Gritty, the Internet’s Most Beloved Mascot
  10. The healing power of pursuing a dream

2018 Year in Review: Up2Us Training (Up2Us Sports)
Premier League to Support LGBTQ Group in Rainbow Laces Campaign (Beyond Sport)
The Art–Impact–Love Plan (by Dante Pettis) (The Players’ Tribune)
100 ways sport and recreation develops communities (Sport and Dev)
Mexico City Welcomes the World for Homeless World Cup Tournament (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.

She Made History at QB. Then Came the Hard Part. (And Drew Brees on FaceTime)


Sports as refuge. We have featured that theme before and we are confident we will continue to do so. Actually, we do it this week.
Garry Shandling was one of the funniest guys in the past 50 years. His TV shows and appearances on late night TV made him the envy of other entertainers. And he came across as a very “chill” guy. Some of that low-key vibe came from Shandling’s love of basketball and his long-time role as host of pick-up basketball games. In an article from ESPN, we learn about the array of comedy stars who played or at least attended the weekly basketball game. It might not be a big deal, celebrities and psuedo-celebrities hooping at a rich guy’s house. But Shandling supposedly made it more than that. It was a place for friends to see other friends, and for folks to make friends (and sometimes become collabrators). We featured this story because of the connection many of us have to pick-up sports, “getting away from it all,” and good friends.
We are excited that we have come to our 300th newsletter. Thanks for everyone for being loyal readers and supporting this effort. It is a real “labor of love” and we are grateful for the opportunity to share good news with all of you.
The stories we feature this week include: NBA players and coaches encouraging people to vote; executive Tamara Daniels of the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights; data analytics professor Dr. Felesia Stukes of Johnson C. Smith University; Fabiano Caruana, an Italian-American chess grandmaster; SUNY Cortland student-athlete Kyle Richard stepping up for a person in need; how the adaptive lacrosse movement has increased access to the game; the announcement of the 2018 RWJF Sports Award Winners; how Gritty became a super-popular mascot for the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers; and Olympic gold medalist and Native American Billy Mills.

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So, enjoy. And have a good week.

Why the NBA community has gotten serious about getting out the vote
Brogdon’s teammate Khris Middleton voted in Wisconsin for the first time this year. In the past, he voted in Detroit (where he played as a rookie) and South Carolina (his home state). To vote in Wisconsin, Middleton says he had to show two paid utility bills and an address in the state. He registered at the Brookfield Town Hall, and when he went to vote in person, he brought his passport — a less common form of identification for lower-income people — because his driver’s license had a South Carolina address on it. “My mom talks about it all the time,” Middleton says of voter ID laws. “My mom and dad always encouraged me to get out there and vote. It is a right that we haven’t had for the longest time.” Casey, the Pistons’ coach, remembers when his black grandparents first obtained the right to vote, and he doesn’t take the responsibility lightly. “It was not too long ago that African-Americans didn’t have that opportunity,” he says.
(video, Caption: Warriors Team Up With Rock the Vote – CA Reg Deadline 10/22

Golden Knights Team Lawyer Works To Increase Women In Sports Leadership Roles
One day, Golden Knights President Kerry Bubolz approached Tamara Daniels, VGK director of business legal affairs. The team’s in-house lawyer, who oversees trademark acquisition, brand identity and strategic partnerships, was selected for a game-changing project. Bubolz, who has focused on instilling best practices at all levels of the VGK business organization while also stressing a winning work culture, has prioritized the inclusivity of women in management as a vital goal. It’s an important priority for the tradition-laden NHL because — compared to the other major league professional — hockey has lagged behind in embracing change like the NBA has. So, the NHL is tackling the issue. Case in point: In 2017, the NHL introduced Kim Davis as the league’s executive vice president of social impact, growth initiatives and legislative affairs to boost the NHL’s outreach efforts. Her task is as formidable as her title implies. When Bubolz heard Davis address league executives for the first time, he took the message directly to Daniels at the Golden Knights. Her mission is to turn and translate this idea into action at the VGK in Las Vegas.

Daniels TTeam legal counsel Tamara Daniels at a recent Golden Knights game at T-Mobile Arena.
Photo credit: J. Tyge O’Donnell/

Sports Analytics in the Classroom: How One Computer Science Professor is Changing the Game
When Dr. Stukes attended the National Society of Blacks in Computing Conference in the summer of 2017, she discovered the perfect tech tool for making data science accessible to one and all: ShotTracker, a sensor-based system beloved by D1 college basketball programs that instantly delivers 70+ real-time stats and analytics to an easy-to-use-app. Featuring shot charts and zone maps, ShotTracker makes telling stories about data that enhance team performance and drive competition easy. Dr. Stukes immediately recognized ShotTracker’s educational potential, envisioning the system as the cornerstone of a new data science minor at JCSU. Now, supported by a prestigious grant from the National Science Foundation, Dr. Stukes, along with seven hand-picked JCSU students, aka “The DATA Bulls,” are turning her pioneering vision into reality with a ShotTracker-powered pilot program designed to take computer science out of the classroom and into the real world. “Math and science can cause anxiety and lead to avoidance for some students,” Dr. Stukes says. “A lot of the time, you’re in a computer lab environment in front of PCs, which makes things more intense.” ShotTracker’s on-the-go app changes that. The DATA Bulls started charging ahead the moment the sensors got installed in the rafters of JCSU’s basketball gym in September.

Johnson C. Smith(Image courtesy of Johnson C. Smith University)

Searching for the Next Bobby Fischer, the U.S. Finds Fabi
The last American to win the world chess championship was a Brooklyn-bred grandmaster who stunned the world champion and took his title. The next one may be, too. Beginning this week, Fabiano Caruana, a 26-year-old grandmaster who has spent the last two decades fighting his way up the ranks to reach No. 2 in the world, is expected to lay serious claim to a title that has not been held by an American since Bobby Fischer won it from Boris Spassky in 1972. Caruana will challenge the world’s best player, Magnus Carlsen of Norway, at the World Chess Championships in London. They will play 12 matches over the course of three weeks beginning Friday. “I’ve had mediocre years, I’ve had good years,” Caruana said. “This year has been the best by far.” A lot of people in the world of chess agree, and they are awaiting a Caruana-Carlsen showdown that could affirm a resurgence of American strength in international chess competitions.

CaruanaFabiano Caruana, an Italian-American chess grandmaster, stands for a portrait outside the World Chess Hall of Fame in St. Louis, Missouri, U.S., on Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2018.
CreditCreditDaniel Acker for The New York Times

The heroic story and incredible comeback of a football star
Kyle Richard is wincing. Every muscle in his body is clenched to keep him from making a sound. The physical therapist is rolling an unforgiving, blunt metal-pronged wheel over Richard’s thigh. He can feel the small bits of scar tissue break free and roll like little stones across the tender muscle fibers in his leg. It has been less than 48 hours since the bullets carved through his muscle. The doctors told him he might be able to play by midseason. Richard is determined to be back sooner. Max Jean is a cornerback on SUNY Cortland’s defense. He is Richard’s teammate, his childhood friend and, when they return to campus to start another year of training camp, his roommate. Jean watches Richard flop onto his bed at their apartment on another warm August night. After two daily sessions of therapy, Richard’s bruise-covered legs are rubber. His wounds are still not completely closed. His body is drained. Richard refuses to say a negative word. He has asked his teammates not to discuss what happened to him with people outside the team. Jean tries to avoid the subject when they’re at the apartment. He knows Richard doesn’t like to talk about it.


‘Fight Club’ with better jokes: Inside Garry Shandling’s secret pickup game
During his 40-year comedy career, Garry Shandling created two of the most iconic and influential TV shows of all time. But instead of following “It’s Garry Shandling’s Show” and “The Larry Sanders Show” with another television masterpiece, Shandling worked on something else: a pickup basketball game. During the 25-year run of the weekly Sunday game, until Shandling’s death at age 66 in 2016, it was attended by celebrities such as Sarah Silverman, Sacha Baron Cohen, Will Ferrell, Brad Pitt, Adam Sandler and Judd Apatow, who directed the recent HBO documentary “The Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling.” But Shandling’s was not a “Hollywood” game. Participants weren’t allowed to network there or talk about it afterward. “It was ‘Fight Club’ with better jokes,” says Shandling’s writing partner Suli McCullough. The players respected this to protect the singular refuge Shandling carefully constructed. Those Sundays yielded friendships that are responsible for some of the best television and film of the past 20 years. As director Alex Richanbach says, “This group of people found a little family in Los Angeles because we all have the same comedy dad.” This is the story, told by the players, of how Shandling’s generosity, drive and anxiety led to a three-decade basketball game — and the next generation of comedy.

ShandlingFriends played a memorial game on Shandling’s home court after the comedian’s death in 2016.
Courtesy Suli McCullough

How the Adaptive Lacrosse Movement Has Increased Access to the Sport
Adaptive lacrosse is a fully inclusive, modified version of the sport designed to fit the needs of athletes with physical or intellectual impairments. The game offers the opportunity for a wide spectrum of players to fall in love with it. “When I actually articulated and heard it come out of my mouth, it felt like an epiphany,” said Delaney, whose son, Patrick, is autistic. “This is what I’d like to spread throughout the lacrosse community.” The Parkville program has recently gone viral with videos of its players using an automated stick that attaches to a wheelchair and uses a catapult mechanism controlled by a button. Around the country, other organizations are catching on. The adaptive lacrosse movement has spread from the Mid-Atlantic to the Northeast, with growing interest in the Midwest. Delaney holds conference calls to jumpstart new programs across the country. US Lacrosse supports these groups by providing guidelines, seminars and mentorship. “We want to make sure no one is left behind,” said Eboni Preston-Laurent, senior manager of diversity and inclusion at US Lacrosse.

Adaptive lacrosse

2018 RWJF Sports Award Winners Announced: Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy, The Sanneh Foundation, and Soccer Without Borders
The Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy, The Sanneh Foundation and Soccer Without Borders have been selected as 2018 winners of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Sports Award. The winners will receive a $10,000 cash award and will be honored at a November 15, 2018 ceremony at the RWJF headquarters in Princeton, N.J. The three recipients have been awarded this honor for their innovative and influential approaches to using sports to improve the Culture of Health in their communities. Approaches include: using a baseball platform to address community food access; advancing diversity, equity, and community well-being for Minnesota’s youth; and building a more inclusive world through soccer. Past winners include the Chicago Fire Foundation, Doc Wayne, Doug Flutie Foundation for Autism, InnerCity Weightlifting, MLSE Foundation, PeacePlayers International, San Francisco Giants Community Fund, The Moyer Foundation and Tony Hawk Foundation. “Congratulations to these organizations and the passionate, dedicated people who lead them,” said Richard Besser, RWJF president and CEO. “We are inspired by their choice to use healthy play as a starting point to greater social and emotional well-being in their communities. They forge leaders, build greater understanding among strangers and endeavor to heal the personal wounds of discrimination, poverty and inequity.”

RWJF 2018

How the Flyers Created Gritty, the Internet’s Most Beloved Mascot
As the internet rage storm against Gritty started to dissipate and the tide turned to praising Gritty during his first actual day in existence, one of the pivotal moments came on Twitter. The Flyers tried to break the internet, using Gritty to spoof Kim Kardashian’s Twitter-famous Paper magazine cover, which features the reality star balancing a martini glass on her derriere (the team said it’s one of their major goals to get Kardashian to acknowledge Gritty’s existence). “We started talking about it at dinner and then did it by 10 o’clock,” Heller said. “When we did that Kardashian post, it was likes by the thousands. … 35 days later it hasn’t slowed down.” The team doesn’t plot out its moves days in advance, but rather work on a “five-hour-at-a-time window,” Schwab said. “It’s almost like the [marketing team] sits around like the SNL writers,” Tilger said. “What’s a topic of interest and does it fit with Gritty and how do we play off of it?” The team uses Slack to kick around ideas and workshop them. Often, the team molds something mentioned as a joke into a viable idea—Schwab said that’s how the Kardashian tweet evolved.

GrittyThe Flyers marketing team described Gritty in one word: mischievous.
Getty Images

The healing power of pursuing a dream
When Billy Mills beat the pack on a muddy cinder track in the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo, it was one of the greatest upsets in sports history. The grainy black-and-white video shows his graceful, effortless stride in the 10,000-meter race. But those steps were part of a difficult journey that left Mills, an Oglala Lakota, so despondent that he almost killed himself before he won the gold medal. “That moment was magical to me. I felt as if I had wings on my feet,” Mills told a crowd at Arizona State University on Thursday night. He spoke at an event titled “Indigenous Identity and the Athletic Experience with Billy Mills,” sponsored by the Alliance of Indigenous Peoples, the Global Sport Institute and the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy. The talk was held at the Tempe campus, which is on the homeland of the Akimel O’odham and Pee-Posh peoples. Mills was raised on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. When he was 8, his mother died, and his father told him, “It takes a dream to heal broken souls. The pursuit of a dream will heal you.” “He told me to take our culture, our traditions and spirituality and extract from them the virtues and values that empower them,” Mills said. His father died when he was 12, but Mills found his passion in running and won an athletic scholarship to the University of Kansas.

Billy MillsBilly Mills, the Sioux Olympic gold medalist who won the 1964 Tokyo 10,000 meters, gives a hug to Rhiannon Worker, a nutrition sophomore, before addressing around 100 people at the “Indigenous Identity and the Athletic Experience” event Thursday in Tempe.
Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now


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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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