Aug. 3 – Aug. 9, 2014
Welcome to week one hundred twenty-three of the Sports Doing Good newsletter. This week’s 10 stories include:
- From the basement up: Dylan Gioia is living the dream of owning a pro basketball franchise from his mother’s home in Marine Park
- For Young Soccer Players, Vast Ambitions Grow in Tight Spaces
- ESPN, Fox Sports and NBC Sports Group Join Together to Ensure the Future of Girls and Women in Sports
- Patriots’ Logan Ryan goes extra mile to fulfill vow, earn degree
- Everton forward Steven Naismith gives tickets to unemployed
- Boxer Daniel Jacobs Is So Tough, He Fought His Way Back From Cancer To World Title Bout
- Girls power Little League contenders
- One-Armed 12-Year-Old Impresses With His Performance At All-Star Game
- A Group Revels as Its Godfather Is Inducted; Ray Guy Enters Hall of Fame With Cheers From Other Punters
- Kevin Plank’s Formula for Under Armour’s Innovative Design
While many of the stories we feature involve the participants in sports, young and old, male and female, professional and amateur, there are stories that deal with the industry, i.e. the individuals, organizations, and companies that help sports and sports-related ventures exist. We have two such stories this week – our first and last stories – that capture the entrepreneurial bent of two individuals at different stages of their professional lives.
The first story features Dylan Gioia, a young man who has taken the major step of owning and operating his own professional sports team, all at the tender age of 22. His is a great story of big dreams being played out on a small stage and doing whatever is necessary to make it work in spite of the challenges. The last story featured is that of Kevin Plank and the now very well-known sports brand, Under Armour. Under Armour has its own challenges – for example, how to continue to grow behind an innovation-based strategy. In their own ways, these entrepreneurs have a vision for their organization and are mustering whatever resources possible to ensure their eventual success.
Other stories that we are happy to feature this week include: the wonderful game of futsal; a major financial commitment supporting women’s sports; NFLer Logan Ryan pursuing this college degree; an EPL player offering an opportunity to enjoy great soccer action in a time of economic challenge; boxer Daniel Jacobs’ fight against cancer; two amazing young ladies helping power their respective Little League teams towards Williamsport for the World Series; Dawson Batts performing at an all-star level despite having only one arm; and the HOF induction of punting pioneer Ray Guy.
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From the basement up: Dylan Gioia is living the dream of owning a pro basketball franchise from his mother’s home in Marine Park
To help lower costs, he employs friends whenever possible. His girlfriend’s sister’s friend is designing the team’s website. A lawyer pal eyed the initial ABA contract. A high school buddy is assembling a dance squad for the SkyRockets, the name Gioia selected because the team plays its home games at Aviator Center at Floyd Bennett Field, a former naval air station. He’s also a one-man front office, in charge of virtually every detail of his team. On his LinkedIn page, Gioia lists his duties with the SkyRockets as: founder, in charge of sponsorships, advertising, tryouts, website, writing press releases, holding fund-raisers and running home and road games.
Dylan Gioia keeps chalkboard reminder of his basketball team, the Brooklyn SkyRockets, to keep his dream front and center. Kendall Rodriguez/for New York Daily News
For Young Soccer Players, Vast Ambitions Grow in Tight Spaces
Like the club founder Tony Toral, a native of Guayaquil, Ecuador, futsal is an import from South America. Futsal originated in Uruguay and Brazil in the 1930s and roughly translates to “hall football” or “football in a room.” The five-a-side game is played on a hard surface roughly the size of a basketball court with a low-bounce ball (think restricted-flight softball) and is meant to help players develop close ball skills and movement off the ball while keeping the ball on the floor — not in the air. Players like Pelé, Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Luis Suárez and Ronaldinho honed their skills playing futsal, and many club teams in Europe, like Barcelona, have full-time futsal programs.
New York Ecuador, an under-18 futsal team, practicing at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park for this week’s world championships in Florida. Credit Michelle V. Agins/The New York Times
ESPN, Fox Sports and NBC Sports Group Join Together to Ensure the Future of Girls and Women in Sports
The funding will help drive the Foundation’s national efforts to close the 1.4 million participation gap in athletic opportunities for high school girls and collegiate women, provide grants to amateur and professional athletes in the pursuit of athletic excellence and sustain the Foundation’s longstanding commitment to the health and future success of girls across the United States.
Patriots’ Logan Ryan goes extra mile to fulfill vow, earn degree
With more players than ever leaving college early for the NFL, returning to earn one’s degree is becoming more common. But taking, quite literally, the hard road to achieve it was not something that surprised Ryan’s father. “That was his commitment and he did what he had to do,” Lester said. “When he sets his sight on something, it’s going to get done. There’s no wavering in him. There’s no, ‘Well, maybe not.’ No. Whatever he sets his sights on, it’s going to get done.”
Patriots cornerback Logan Ryan. Photo by: AP (File)
Everton forward Steven Naismith gives tickets to unemployed
“I thought this might be a small gesture to help those in that situation to enjoy a day out at one of our league matches. Hopefully, it can bring some joy to many people.” He said he had asked for tickets to be distributed through Jobcentres across Liverpool, and added: “Every day, I feel very fortunate for the opportunities and lifestyle my job as a footballer has afforded my family and me and also to be in the position where I can help the community in some small way.”
Boxer Daniel Jacobs Is So Tough, He Fought His Way Back From Cancer To World Title Bout
Jacobs, 27, got knocked out by Dmitry Pirog in his previous world title shot in July 2010. The truly devastating blow came later. During his second bout after the loss, he said he didn’t feel right. A short time later, he became partially paralyzed and couldn’t walk. In May 2011, doctors determined he had osteosarcoma, a cancer that had formed a tumor around his spine. He underwent several procedures to remove the growth and had titanium rods inserted in his back. As he lay in what he called his “death bed,” he discovered that the soon-to-open Barclays would host big-time boxing. He pledged to recover and box there someday for his comeback.
Jacobs, right, in action during a bout against Giovanni Lorenzo in August 2013. | Rich Kane – Hoganphotos/Golden Boy Promotions
Girls power Little League contenders
“No matter who you are, you should be able to do what you like to do and what you’ve always dreamed of doing,” said Davis, whose walk-up song is “Run the World (Girls)” by Beyonce. To that end, she said, she would love to see her team make it to Williamsport. “I want to go for the experience and see how everything is,” she said. “It would be a great moment in my life and something all kids should get to do.”
Mo’ne Davis has plenty of physical talent, but her coach says her refusal to get rattled may be her biggest weapon. Courtesy the Times Herald
One-Armed 12-Year-Old Impresses With His Performance At All-Star Game
Dawson Batts can do it all. The 12-year-old pitches and plays first base for his youth squad in North Carolina. He’s the best player on his tournament team, and as his father told MLB.com, he turned three unassisted triple plays this year. Dawson, whose last name is ideally suited for baseball, recently participated in the prestigious National Youth Baseball Championships in New York. And did we mention he only has one arm?
A Group Revels as Its Godfather Is Inducted; Ray Guy Enters Hall of Fame With Cheers From Other Punters
The result was one of the most unusual gatherings of N.F.L. alumni: 18 punters whose careers spanned nearly five decades. Over chicken wings and beer at Thorpe’s Market Avenue Grill in downtown Canton, the punters swapped stories, compared notes on hang times and coffin corners, and listened as Guy, a natural Southern storyteller who played his entire 14-year career with the Raiders, held court. “He put us on the map,” Coleman said of Guy, the first punter to be selected in the first round of the draft. “There weren’t too many punters who had a five-second hang time in the league.”
Ray Guy during the induction ceremony on Saturday. He and six other former players were honored. Credit Dustin Franz for The New York Times
Kevin Plank’s Formula for Under Armour’s Innovative Design
Under Armour’s Kevin Plank famously started his athletic-apparel company when he was a University of Maryland football player in the ’90s. (He was looking for a moisture-wicking, form-fitting undershirt to wear under his pads.) Today, Baltimore-based Under Armour pulls in $2.3 billion in annual revenue. It’s the third-largest athletic brand in the world, behind Nike and Adidas, and Plank has his sights set firmly on becoming No. 1. His latest innovation, the SpeedForm Apollo running shoe, just might get him there. But creating it wasn’t easy, as he explains to Inc. editor-at-large Tom Foster.