Nov. 18 – Dec. 1, 2018
Welcome to issue three hundred and one of the Sports Doing Good newsletter. This week’s 10 stories include:
- Cult-classic ‘The White Shadow’ still resonates 40 years later
- Alabama Running Back Josh Jacobs Is Living the Impossible Dream
- ‘Moneyball’ mastermind Billy Beane predicts health tech and AI will transform pro sports
- Tyson Fury: ‘If I can defeat depression, I can defeat anything.’
- 5 sports lessons a former pro athlete uses to succeed in business
- WSU band learns Husky fight song to play during Apple Cup after UW bus flips on trip to Pullman
- ‘A coach is a coach’: Chantal Vallée on leading a men’s professional team
- NFL All-Pro Shawn Springs Hopes to Make an Impact at CES
- Volleyball Team Devastated by Fire Shows Up Without Equipment, But Opponents Have New Uniforms, Supplies and Gift Cards Waiting
- Women’s football at a Sikh temple? Meet the pioneer who made it happen
NFL’s “My Cause My Cleats” Campaign Empowers Athlete Philanthropy (Beyond Sport)
The Anchor-Mentor-Father Plan (by Saquon Barkley) (The Players’ Tribune)
New Orleans Day of Sport celebration (Laureus)
How to Strengthen Your Athlete’s Growth Mindset (TrueSport)
Sports Paralysis Charity Regain launches Transforming Lives appeal (Beyond Sport)
Most of the stories we feature are current in nature, focused on individuals, teams, organizations, etc. doing something that has just taken place, is taking place, or will take place in the near future. We don’t go too far forward too often and rarely have “older stories.” However, we do have the occasional “anniversary story” and we are proud to offer one this week.
“The White Shadow” lasted on television for three years but what a great three years it was. This was my favorite show by far. As a pre-high school student, I looked at the characters as “way older than me,” even though it was more in the range of 5 or 6 years older. The characters were great, the stories were a mix of the funny and the serious, and it involved my favorite sport to watch, basketball. In a day and age when there were not 500+ shows on television, it meant something to be on network TV. The White Shadow more than deserved its place in the lexicon of TV history. So enjoy a look at the show 40 years later and maybe pick it up on DVD or a streaming service. It will be worth it.
The other stories we are happy to feature include: University of Alabama student-athlete Josh Jacobs and his fight to get where he is today; ‘Moneyball” mastermind Billy Beane and his view on the future of sports; heavyweight boxing fighter, Tyson Fury, and his fight to overcome depression; suggestions from former professional lacrosse player Drew Westervelt on how to succeed in business; a great gesture by the Washington State University marching band after it learned that its rivals from the University of Washington would not make it to the game because of a bus accident; pioneering female basketball coach and general manager Chantal Vallee of Canada; former NFL star and current entrepreneur Shawn Springs and his time at CES; a wonderful example of caring and sportsmanship by a high school volleyball team and its community for an opponent devastated by the fires in California; and the growth of women’s football (soccer) at a club in England led by Parm Gill.
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So, enjoy. And have a good week.
Cult-classic ‘The White Shadow’ still resonates 40 years later
The Post caught up with several stars and family members associated with “The White Shadow” — which ran on CBS for just three seasons from 1978 to 1981 — to discuss the critically acclaimed, but short-lived, show’s impact ahead of its 40th anniversary this week. “It was very ahead of its time, man. We did so many things that were shocking, unheard of things on TV in the ’70s,” said Thomas Carter, who played authority-challenging guard James Hayward and now is one of three former Carver players to go on to successful careers as Hollywood directors. “I really liked that the show from the start didn’t want to be simply a show about basketball, but was going to be daring and ambitious enough to try and say important things and make a difference. “It really made you think about where these kids, many of them African-American, really live. What kind of things do they have to deal with every day? What are the consequences, what are the costs, of their environment? So much of it, I don’t remember it being done before anywhere on television. “Honestly,” he added, “groundbreaking really isn’t a strong enough word to describe it.”
Alabama Running Back Josh Jacobs Is Living the Impossible Dream
The idea that he would be living out his football dream seemed impossible on the nights he worried about where he would sleep or what he would eat. But years later, that’s what he’s doing. Despite the lack of star power once attached to his name, the 225-pound junior running back has blossomed into one of college football’s most intriguing NFL prospects. “He might be my favorite player on the team,” says one NFL scout. Adds another: “Man, he’s a legit one. He’s a top dude when he comes out. He runs pissed off.” If it looks like Jacobs is running with purpose, that’s because he is. He runs for his three-year-old son, Braxton, who he hopes will never experience a childhood like his own. And for his father, Marty, his greatest inspiration. “Football has always been an outlet for Josh,” Marty says. “He puts so much emotion into running the ball.” For much of his life, Jacobs kept his journey and emotions concealed. Even some of the family’s closest friends were kept in the dark. But now that he’s found peace and success at Alabama, he’s eager to open up. “It’s therapeutic to me,” he says. “I want to talk about it now.”
‘Moneyball’ mastermind Billy Beane predicts health tech and AI will transform pro sports
So what’s next for Beane? One area to look is health and wellness. Beane is predicting that health tech and artificial intelligence will transform professional sports. “The healthiest teams in NFL are the most successful,” Beane said. “The correlation between health and success is remarkable. It’s an incredibly strong correlation. Same is true in baseball. So, the frontier for all of us is getting our arms around preventing and minimizing injuries. It’s a lot of lost time to some of our best players and lost revenues. However, the challenge is it’s gotta be data-driven. But getting data on the health history of people is not the easiest thing in the world, due to privacy laws.” He noted that the A’s and other pro baseball teams use devices like sleep trackers, and have hired sleep coaches who dictate players’ travel schedules. But managers still need to evaluate more player health data to see which benefits are marginal or massive when it comes to winning games. Beane also said that AI is poised to transform the business of baseball by helping teams predict who will be the next major league players, and what they have to do to chart a successful path. But the A’s aren’t using AI for scouting yet, he admitted.
Tyson Fury: ‘If I can defeat depression, I can defeat anything.’
You’ve seen athletes come back from orthopedic ruin, drugs, booze, even incarceration. Returning from what the world perceives as “crazy,” however, is a different matter. While Fury has come to see himself as a mental health advocate, he’s still not entirely sure what was going on in his own head, merely that the black dog of depression struck after Klitschko. “I did everything I was supposed to do,” he says. “My whole life I’d worked so hard to win the title, and when I finally got it, there was just this massive, gaping hole of emptiness, darkness. I just felt so alone in the world and so worthless. I had glory, money, good looks and a [euphemism for great virility]. I could have whatever I wanted with a click of my fingers. But the whole time I had everything, I had nothing. I felt like everything I ever did in my life was rubbish.” Was it fame? I ask. “No. I grew up with fame. I’d been on TV since 2008. Even as an amateur, I was famous in the UK.” Then what? “Most of us who suffer from mental health problems, if we knew, we’d fix it. But we don’t know. That’s where is spirals into darkness.”
5 sports lessons a former pro athlete uses to succeed in business
After playing professional lacrosse for over 10 years and becoming the founder and COO of HEX, Drew Westervelt knows firsthand that sports can help you get ahead in business. In fact without sports, HEX, a laundry detergent designed for the type of synthetic fibers athletic apparel is most commonly made from, would not exist today. “In college all I was ever given was cotton,” says Westervelt. “That has changed really rapidly over the growth of a lot of these athleisure brands in the last 10 to 15 years.” As a professional athlete, he found that his normal detergent was not adequately cleaning his new state-of-the-art gear. When there was an outbreak of MRSA in the locker room, he realized that detergents were not keeping up with the needs of today’s athletes. Westervelt worked with chemists and found that that not only did standard detergents fail to remove sweat particles on synthetic fibers, but the bacteria also actually increased post-laundry. Using his connections in the lacrosse community, he scored meetings with major retailers and today, HEX is sold in more than 4,000 retail locations nationwide. His experience as an athlete served as his inspiration, and his teammates were vital networking resources — but Westervelt says it’s the lessons he learned from years of practice, matches and training sessions that taught him to excel in business.
WSU band learns Husky fight song to play during Apple Cup after UW bus flips on trip to Pullman
The rivalry between Washington State and Washington is unquestionably big for both schools, but for the Washington State band, brotherhood and camaraderie trumped rivalry Friday in Pullman. The Cougar band spent Friday afternoon learning how to play “Bow Down to Washington,” the UW fight song. The Husky band was not in Pullman as planned, going home after one of its buses flipped Thursday near George en route to Pullman, sending 47 of the 56 to the hospital. Two remained hospitalized Friday with “injuries that are not believed to be life threatening,” according to a release from the University of Washington. “The Huskies are missing their band, and that’s an important part of the gameday experience,” said Washington State band director Troy Bennefield. “We want to honor the camaraderie and their dedication and show our sportsmanship.” “Yesterday, when we heard there was an accident and there was a possibility they might not come, it was, ‘what can we do? How can we show our support?” Bennefield said. “It was let’s play the (fight song). Since they are not here, we thought it would be the easiest and most impactful way to show our solidarity with them.”
‘A coach is a coach’: Chantal Vallée on leading a men’s professional team
Last week, she was announced as head coach and general manager of the Hamilton Honey Badgers of the Canadian Elite Basketball League, which is scheduled to begin next May. As a result, Vallée becomes the first woman to hold both positions with a men’s professional sports team. But as much as she appreciates why her gender is such a major talking point, she says it barely factored in discussions with the organisation’s top brass. “One of the most incredible things is that when John [Lashway, the Honey Badgers president] first called me, we talked about basketball. We talked about coaching, character, culture,” she says. “He never brought up the gender topic until the deal was almost signed. He mentioned how I might be one of the first women to take on both roles. And then we went back to talking about basketball. From the beginning, the message has been that it really doesn’t matter today if you’re a man or a woman. As long as you’re competent and you have the credentials, you can get hired and get the job. To me, that’s what the breakthrough is.” In Canadian sports circles, Vallée is a relatively well-known figure. Her remarkable success in a basketball backwater like Windsor made waves and it spoke volumes that she was recommended to Lashway, who boasts three decades of senior management experience with NBA and NHL franchises, by Robin Brudner, current CEO of the Canadian Olympic Committee. Vallée has certainly impressed the right people. But not just because of what’s happened on the court.
NFL All-Pro Shawn Springs Hopes to Make an Impact at CES
During a recent discussion, the former NFL All-Pro-turned-CEO of Windpact—a tech and applied sciences company hoping to revolutionize impact protection—talked animatedly about attending the Sports Zone at the Consumer Electronics Show in January in Las Vegas. There, he says, “If you are a conscious person, you’re just in awe of everything.” But for Springs, attending CES is about more than seeing the new breathtaking technology that is changing every bit of our world. Instead, the event is about bringing those technologies together to hasten that change. “There are so many great connections to people from around the world at CES,” Springs said. “You’re like, ‘I’ve thought about that. I see how I can make that better.’ There is a lot of synergy, networks that can be formed and developed. All I can say is take your time, don’t be in a rush. There’s so much to see.” In Springs’ case, gone are the days of skull-crushing tackles, of bone-jarring hits, and of brain-rattling collisions. Now Springs wants to preserve those brains, after seeing firsthand the apparent effect that consistent and repeated blows can have on players. He also hopes he can help non-players, too. “I clearly understand the importance of impact protection,” he said. “I felt a lot of pain from not having the right helmet. The importance, the seriousness of traumatic brain injuries—in sports, in soldiers, people who are in accidents—that’s something we talk about every day at Windpact. It’s bigger than building the next catcher’s mask. There are lives and loved ones who are actually involved.
Volleyball Team Devastated by Fire Shows Up Without Equipment, But Opponents Have New Uniforms, Supplies and Gift Cards Waiting
After the small town of Paradise, California, was nearly wiped out by wildfires last week, the local high school girl’s volleyball team was still determined to play their semifinal championship match last Saturday—despite having no uniforms or equipment after having evacuating quickly with only the clothes on their back. But the opposing team from Forest Lake Christian High School in Auburn was waiting with a big surprise. Within 24 hours, they had collected donations of $16,000 and when the girls from Paradise Adventist Academy showed up, they were greeted with new custom uniforms, knee pads, and socks—and a whole lot of love. Not only that, a $300 gift card was provided for each player, along with truck loads of supplies and clothing for their families. After the game, they were all invited to a banquet of warm food prepared by the Forest Lake families. Paradise Adventist coach Jason Eyer addressed the packed gymnasium, filled with people who had never watched the Interscholastic sport before, but wanted to show support. “I’ve never been so overwhelmed by so many things I would have never thought possible, and this is one of the most amazing things I could ever have thought would happen,” he said, according to an article in The Union. “Your community is awesome and we are forever grateful.”
Women’s football at a Sikh temple? Meet the pioneer who made it happen
Gill, 51, is a founding member of the Guru Nanak FC women’s team. Indeed, she is its founder, full stop. Three years ago, this mother of two boys in the Guru Nanak youth teams asked her sons’ coaches to let her start a female section. They said, sure, if you can get the numbers. Gill set about approaching every woman and every mother she knew, and many she did not, persuading them to sign up for something that did not at that point exist. Today, there are more than 70 women and girls training with Guru Nanak. There are four female teams. Gill, meanwhile, has become something of a symbol; celebrated for her endeavours, she has been presented with awards by the Football Association at local and national level and, in September, she received Uefa’s Grassroots Gold Award for her work. “When you win an award like that you definitely think: ‘I’m doing something correct here,’” she says. In part, Gill has been recognised because she opened football up to a new community, that of Sikh women and this provides the latest chapter in the remarkable history of Guru Nanak FC, a club founded in 1965, just a decade after a south Asian community began to grow in Gravesend. Gill has arguably achieved something richer and more complex still, however. Her teams are diverse, with girls and women of all ethnicities (and ages) taking part. The matches and training sessions bring people together who might never otherwise meet. The setup at Guru Nanak provides an essential community function, especially in an age of austerity.