Sports Doing Good Newsletter, #97

Feb. 2 – Feb. 8, 2014

Welcome to week ninety-seven of the Sports Doing Good newsletter. This week’s first 10 stories include:

  1. Olympic Opening Ceremony 2014: Highlights, Flag Bearers and More from Sochi
  2. Busy Lillard Tests His Durability
  3. No. 1 Columbia Fencers Are Aided by ‘Jedi Master’
  4. ‘Science Of Winter Olympics’ Videos Will Change The Way You Look At Your Favorite Sport
  5. ESPN’s “SC Featured” Segments Return to Sunday SportsCenter Feb. 9
  6. NFL Stars Unite Against Bullying
  7. Overcoming a handicap and adversity in Burundi with One World Futbol
  8. Oregon Tech’s Danny Miles reluctantly celebrates his 1,000th win
  9. Honorary captain Vernon Davis and the greatest U.S. curling team ever assembled
  10. All Sports United Now Accepting Nominations for 2nd Humanitarian Award; Award honors a professional athlete’s excellence in philanthropy

The Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia began this and week and while there has been a lot of discussion and debate about the hosts country and some of its social and political policies, sports and the athletes from around the world are emerging once again to garner the most attention.

The last few weeks we have highlighted stories that told of interesting individuals who have fought through an array of challenges and obstacles to achieve their Olympic dream. And while they all want to win, being an Olympian, representing one’s self, family, community and country is surely an achievement about which they can always be extremely proud.

So this week we have Olympic-related stories highlighting: the incredible Opening Ceremonies; the science behind some of the Winter Games most popular sports; one NFL star’s attraction to one of the Games’ most interesting events; dynamic champion Shaun White; the legacy of the 2002 Salt Lake City Games; and super athlete and mom, Noelle Pikus-Pace; amongst others.

In addition to the Olympic stories, we are proud to feature stories including: young NBA star Damian Lillard; the elite fencing teams from Columbia University; the wonderful organization One World Futbol; legendary college basketball coach Danny Miles; college student-athlete Ki-Ke Rafiu; Iraq war veteran Nicholas Illanes; and the 2014 voting period for the All Sports United philanthropy award; amongst others.

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So enjoy. And have a good week.

Olympic Opening Ceremony 2014: Highlights, Flag Bearers and More from Sochi
There was pressure on Russia to put on a great show, and those watching weren’t disappointed. From the interpretive performances to the parade of nations and everything in between, ceremony organizers knocked it out of the park…While questions may remain regarding Russia’s ability to host the Olympics throughout the Games, the country made an excellent first impression. Here is an in-depth look at the most important aspects of the Sochi opening ceremony complete with top flag bearers and much more.

Busy Lillard Tests His Durability
Last month, Lillard, the starting point guard for the Portland Trail Blazers, was named to the pool of players being considered for the United States national team, and he was selected as a reserve for the Western Conference All-Star team. Last week, his schedule for All-Star weekend became even heavier when he was chosen to play in the N.B.A.’s Rising Stars challenge to go along with appearances in the league’s skills competition, the slam dunk contest and the 3-point contest.

No. 1 Columbia Fencers Are Aided by ‘Jedi Master’
Mr. Aufrichtig, a former software salesman with no previous professional coaching experience, came aboard three years ago and turned a losing men’s team around with an approach comparable to the statistics-based method described in Michael Lewis’s 2003 book “Moneyball” (and the so-named 2011 film) about an unconventionally successful baseball general manager…Mr. Aufrichtig took over a men’s team that had just completed a season with two wins and 15 losses, finishing last in the Ivy League. Fast forward to this year: The team has 22 wins and one loss — to Penn State, a team it beat in another competition.

The Columbia University men’s and women’s fencing teams practice as a coach, Akhnaten Spencer-El, in black shorts, looks on. Karsten Moran for The New York Times

‘Science Of Winter Olympics’ Videos Will Change The Way You Look At Your Favorite Sport
Sure, figure skating is all about skill and practice — lots of practice. But ultimately it’s about science. Just check out the video above from the National Science Foundation and NBC Learn that spotlights the fascinating physics behind figure skating. As the video explains, skating is all about the skater’s center of gravity — which for optimal balance during a spin, must stay directly above the so-called “point of support,” where the skates touch the ice.

Credit: NBC Learn and the National Science Foundation (NSF)

ESPN’s “SC Featured” Segments Return to Sunday SportsCenter Feb. 9
The SC Featured brand, which premiered in 2013, presents personalities and subjects ranging from dramatic to quirky, from touching to comedic, with the series airing on SportsCenter during the months of the NFL offseason. The stories debut on Sundays in the 10 a.m. ET edition and re-air at various times throughout the day, including the 11 p.m. program.

NFL Stars Unite Against Bullying
Rice and four other NFL stars spoke with Sports Illustrated’s Peter King about their participation in the 3rd annual NFL “Characters Unite” documentary, which premieres tonight at 7 p.m. on USA. The film, presented this year for the first time by GMC, profiles NFL stars who share their personal experiences of overcoming bullying and other forms of adversity with young people who are going through similar challenges right now.

Overcoming a handicap and adversity in Burundi with One World Futbol
Manirakiza Richard is a young man whose love of football allows him to feel one again and forget his handicap. Richard suffered a land mine accident at the age of ten causing him to lose his legs. His community supported him and encouraged him to pursue an education taking him to the Saint Kizito Institute in Burundi.

Oregon Tech’s Danny Miles reluctantly celebrates his 1,000th win
“In the last few minutes, when it was about to happen, I think we all realized what a great achievement it was,” Flint says. “It’s not just about that moment — it’s about the 999 games before it, the 43 years of coaching, the hundreds of players that it took to reach that milestone. The celebration was so much more about his body of work and what he’s put into the program, the school and the community.”

Oregon Tech went 1-21 the year before Miles arrived. Now the Owls have three titles and play their games on Danny Miles Court. Photo courtesy of Oregon Tech

Honorary captain Vernon Davis and the greatest U.S. curling team ever assembled
Davis is a man of many passions — football, of course, smoothies, contemporary art and healthcare — but how did he get into curling, you ask? Apparently, a 49ers beat writer convinced him to give it a try. He fell in love, and now owns three brooms, according to the San Jose Mercury News.–curling-team-ever-assembled-214628612.html

San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis’ love of curling knows no bounds. (Associated Press)

All Sports United Now Accepting Nominations for 2nd Humanitarian Award; Award honors a professional athlete’s excellence in philanthropy
“For years, sports personalities have graced the news with stories of excellence, but in recent years, scandal and defeat seem more likely to grab headlines,” said All Sports United Co-Founder Scott Manthorne. “By recognizing the efforts of deserving sports philanthropists, we can bring more positive news, highlighting the amazing work of athletes and promoting best practices for athletes’ foundations.” “The end result,” adds Co-Founder Alan Pavlosky, “will be that countless lives will be affected in a positive way by leveraging the platform of professional sports.”


Evolved Shaun White enters Olympics as pop-culture icon
Since repeating as the halfpipe gold medalist in Vancouver in 2010, White has driven an evolution of his brand that has made him as much a celebrity as top action sports athlete. Shedding the “Flying Tomato” nickname, he has become a household name with witty gum commercials, cameo appearances in films and TV and a rock band of his own.

Olympic snowboarder Shaun White poses for portraits at the top of Copper Mountain Resort where he trains in halfpipe and Park rails. (Photo: Nathan Bilow, USA TODAY Sports)

Utah’s Olympic impact keeps registering
The impact of Salt Lake City’s Olympics is clearly evident in the venues that remain in play for elite and recreational athletes alike. Yet the effects go even beyond the Utah Olympic Park, the speedskating Oval and Soldier Hollow.

Thousands of fans reveled while fireworks exploded above the City and County Building in 2002 to welcome the Olympic torch relay to Salt Lake City, while giant portraits of athletes graced the sides of downtown buildings and helped create a festive atmosphere. (Tribune file photo)

AT&T Is First Olympic Brand to Condemn Russia’s Anti-Gay Laws
“As a Proud Partner of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Team for the past 30 years, we’ve showcased American athletes and celebrated their diversity all around the world,” McNeely wrote. “Now, with Russia’s anti-LGBT law and worldwide protests against it, AT&T stands in support of the LGBT community. Discrimination is wrong – plain and simple. We hope that others involved with the Olympic Games will do the same.”

Dominic Harrington, Ben Kilner and Billy Morgan of Great Britain pose for a portrait at the Athletes Village in the Rosa Khutor mountain village cluster prior to the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics on Feb. 3, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. Image: Alex Livesey

Iraq War Vet Boosts Confidence of At-Risk Kids Through Mixed Martial Arts
He was awarded a fellowship with The Mission Continues at Black Mat Mixed Martial Arts Gym, a nonprofit gym serving at-risk youth in Whittier, Calif. Through his work there, Nick is able to help build kids’ confidence while teaching them discipline and respect. “The kids are 100% listening to me not because they’re scared but they’re listening to me because they want to learn. They love it. You can see they love MMA so much that they forget about their insecurities and everything they’re afraid of. I get to see how much they appreciate it,” Illanes said.

Liberty Mutual Insurance Debuts New U.S. Olympic Advertising Campaign Celebrating The Will To Come Back And Rise From Setbacks
“The comeback story is part of the fabric of American culture for a reason — small or large, setbacks happen to all of us at some point or another — and we always look within ourselves, and to the support of others, to rise,” said Paul G. Alexander, Liberty Mutual Insurance chief communications officer. “Liberty Mutual Insurance not only embraces second chances, we are a catalyst to guide people on the path to comeback. We wanted to capture and embrace this theme with our “Rise” campaign and corresponding new television spots to showcase iconic setbacks and comebacks through U.S. Olympic history.”

The Olympian who’s going to Sochi for R&R
She is also the mother of two children, Lacee, 6, and Traycen, 2. And just in case that wasn’t enough, Pikus-Pace runs a budding business selling colorful headwear with fake hair coming out of the top. Such a seemingly impossible workload would surely crush most people, but not Pikus-Pace, who missed the Torino Games in 2006 through injury and finished narrowly out of the medals in Vancouver. She thrives on energy and activity, loves the role of “supermom” and believes the happy distractions of family and business life actually help her stay more relaxed on the track.

Noelle Pikus-Pace of the United States makes a practice skeleton run ahead of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at the Sanki Sliding Center on February 5, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

Sports Parent Pledge launched to help create positive change in youth sports
The National Alliance for Youth Sports (NAYS) has launched the Sports Parent Pledge, a call for parents who are tired of being lumped in with the individuals whose actions are ruining youth sports and want to make a positive difference for their kids, their program and their community. After agreeing to uphold the Pledge, parents will receive a free six-part email series packed with resources and tips they can use to help make a positive change in youth sports.

Georgetown student-athlete Ki-Ke Rafiu Gives Back in Nigeria
Her first shot at running a camp resulted in 20 girls. For Ki-Ke it was the perfect number because it meant that all attendees would get shoes, shirts, and even socks. Making things better is that all of the kids had fun, even when touching on important issues such as education. “We talked about basketball, we talked about life outside of basketball, and we talked about school most importantly. I talked to them about what I was going through right now. I know most of them are back home right now and they are working hard to step into my shoes and I’m looking forward to seeing them.”

Senators Reid and McCain Join Boxing, MMA Executives to Support Professional Fighters Study at Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health
While it is still in the early stages, researchers are confident the findings will benefit the safety and health of professional fighters. This information could also be applied to other athletes, members of the military and civilians who may experience head trauma.

Kuala Lumpur to host 2014 Laureus Awards
YB Dato’ Seri Mohamed Nazri, Malaysia’s Minister of Tourism and Culture, added: “Kuala Lumpur is honoured to have been given the privilege of hosting the prestigious 2014 Laureus World Sports Awards and the city looks forward to staging this internationally-renowned event and welcoming a plethora of sporting legends to Malaysia. This is a sports-loving country and I can promise warm Malaysian hospitality awaits all our guests.”

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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.Our mission is to have Sport Doing Good be a consistent, and significant, contributor to the areas of sports, social responsibility and development. We look forwarding to partnering with other stakeholders in producing content, in creating and/or sponsoring athletic and service events, knowledge sharing, and conferences/seminars, and even having a commercial arm that could be the source of innovative social businesses.We invite you to send in news, press releases, and guest pieces for possible publication, and email us with suggestions about the content and format of the newsletter and Sports Doing Good website.
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