Sports Doing Good Newsletter, #126

Aug. 24 – Aug. 30, 2014

Welcome to week one hundred twenty-six of the Sports Doing Good newsletter. This week’s 10 stories include:

  1. What A High School Soccer Team In The South Can Teach America About Acceptance
  2. Playing High School Varsity Sports May Help Make Players Winners in Business
  3. Loretta Claiborne – The Best Thing My Mother Ever Said to Me
  4. Step closer: Ex-49ers star tackles wearable tech for Parkinson’s
  5. Poland Embraces Football That Has a Rougher Side
  6. Basketball, Nostalgia and A Pseudo Self Portrait
  7. Derek Jeter’s strong foundation is evident in Detroit farewell
  8. Bouncing Ideas Around in the Concussion Think Tank
  9. Red Patch Boys live and breathe all things Toronto FC
  10. United Glasgow FC Fights Discrimination & Exclusion through a Shared Love of Soccer

I am a big fan of team sports. While there certainly are great things to be found in individual sports like tennis, golf, swimming, etc., there just seems to be a bit more at stake when you are dealing with 11 players working together to achieve a shared goal. Team sports also require some level of accommodation and tolerance, whether that is of race, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, or economic status.

We have two stories this week – the first and the last – that speak to this reality of team sports. Both involve the world’s most popular sport – soccer/futbol – and take place on two separate continents. What each story shows is that getting along takes work. It takes real effort. And while talking helps, doing is a bit better. Playing on a soccer team is doing. It involves being connected and working together. There are numerous instances, especially in sports, where the power of activity and collective effort proves that people from disparate backgrounds and with different characteristics can succeed and can have a broader impact on the community at-large.

The other stories we are proud to highlight this week include: a look at the benefits of participating in sports when in the business world; Special Olympic champion Loretta Claiborne; a former football turned doctor who is engaged in the fight to end Parkinson’s disease; the popularity of American football in Poland; a photo exhibit which serves as autobiography and study in character; Derek Jeter’s wonderful foundation; the joining of experts to delve even deeper into the issue of concussions and how best to deal with them; and the passionate supporter group of the Toronto FC soccer team.

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So enjoy. And have a good week.

What A High School Soccer Team In The South Can Teach America About Acceptance
The story of “Los Jets” can thus be seen as a reflection of what many Latino immigrants in the U.S. face as demographics shift. “[Siler City has] gone from a place that was angry and confused and upset about the changes that were happening in that community, and now it’s close to sort of an acceptance of that change and of that community,” Cuadros said. “And I think America can go through the exact same story.”

Playing High School Varsity Sports May Help Make Players Winners in Business
In addition to being team players and leaders and being competitive, former high school athletes interviewed for Mainstreet say they carry over other traits into business that they learned through playing high-level sports. As the captain of his high school varsity team, Trey Ditto “had to learn what motivates different players to play their best,” he says. Trey who later played D1 soccer at West Point, says, “Being an athlete allowed me to look at a game, understand what was working and what wasn’t, make necessary adjustments and give our team the best opportunity to win.” He now runs his own PR agency, Ditto Public Affairs.

Loretta Claiborne – The Best Thing My Mother Ever Said to Me
Most athletes compete for a decade, maybe two. Loretta Claiborne – marathoner and Special Olympics athlete – has been at it for over four. In her long career Loretta has completed 26 marathons, achieved a 4th degree black belt in karate, and competed in countless state, national and world Special Olympics competitions. Oh, and did I mention that at the 1996 ESPY Awards, she received the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage? She has accomplished so much in her career as an athlete and as an advocate, but surprisingly, it took a lot of convincing to get Loretta to join Special Olympics in the first place.

Step closer: Ex-49ers star tackles wearable tech for Parkinson’s
Exercise is important for Parkinson’s patients, research has found, since the progressive disease not only causes tremors but stiffness and slowed movement. Exercise presumably keeps muscles strong and flexible. At the same time, wearable health technologies or “biosensing” wearables — such as San Francisco-based step and sleep trackers by FitBit Inc. and Jawbone, heart arrythmia diagnostics from San Francisco’s iRhythm Technologies Inc., blood pressure monitors, insulin pumps, smart glasses and drug-delivery patches — are exploding.

Former San Francisco 49ers linebacker Jim Kovach, a medical doctor and former president of the Buck Institute for Aging Research, is focusing his latest venture, wearable technology company Beneufit, on coaching Parkinson’s disease patients through specific exercise regimens.

Poland Embraces Football That Has a Rougher Side
What began in 1999 in a Warsaw park with five high school friends tossing around a football that one of them brought back from America became a registered league in 2006 with four founding teams. And it has now grown into a network of more than 70 teams in 36 cities across Poland drawing tens of thousands of fans. The climax of the season, the championship game popularly known as the Polish Bowl — though the league prefers Super Final — is played in the country’s huge National Stadium before more than 20,000 fans and is telecast across Europe.

The Crusaders, a team in the Polish American Football League, practiced last month in Warsaw. American football is one of this country’s fastest-growing sports. Maciek Nabrdalik for The New York Times

Basketball, Nostalgia and A Pseudo Self Portrait
After getting past the initial nostalgia of being back at Amity, I started concocting a photo story about a kid going to the park alone, shooting around and generally working on his game. This was something I did a lot in the hours I spent there. Living vicariously through my nephew, I basically photographed a 15-year-old me at one of my favorite places of all time doing things that I was doing 15 years ago. Walking up the hill towards the court, engaging in 1-on-1 battles until enough people showed up for a game, waiting for next, exhaustion and dejection. How’s that for a skewed version of the self portrait?

Derek Jeter’s strong foundation is evident in Detroit farewell
“He wants his legacy to be with his Turn 2 Foundation. It means everything to him,” Sharlee says. “That’s why this night is emotional. This is what he wants to be remembered for.” Jeter, whose foundation has raised $19 million to help steer students toward leadership roles and educational opportunities, stood proudly on the Comerica Park field during the tribute. This wasn’t a mere celebration of his career but also his life, surrounded by his immediate family and 28 high school students in the foundation’s signature program — Jeter’s Leaders.

Bouncing Ideas Around in the Concussion Think Tank
Another proposed project could provide something that has long been missing in the concussion discussion: context. The focus is often on individual case studies. But Dvorak said “one of the top-priority programs” is a comparison of concussion incidence rates across different sports in which athletes are prone to head injuries (soccer, football, rugby, even bicycling and skiing). Researchers also want to compare rates across different competition levels, and even compare those sports against regular leisure activities. Says Dvorak, “The fact that the NFL is open for this epidemiological study and comparison clearly indicates they mean it seriously.”

Wes Welker has suffered three concussions within the past 10 months. (Jack Dempsey/AP)

Red Patch Boys live and breathe all things Toronto FC
After years of watching English Premier League games on TV, longingly recalling years of being in lively stadiums in Europe or listening to the stories of their fathers, fans here finally had a place to let their pent-up soccer passion loose. They picked a name that paid homage to the 1st Canadian Division who wore a red patch in WW1 and were dubbed “the little red devils” by the Germans for their fierce action in Italy in World War II. The Red Patch Boys haven’t had to show bravery in the face of heavy combat but they certainly have had to display perseverance in supporting a team that has never once made the playoffs.

Jon Madrozos of the Red Patch Boys leads sections 111 and 112 in a chant during Saturday’s Toronto FC game against the Chicago Fire. The Red Patch Boys are among the Reds’ most fervent supporters, unleashing a steady stream of chants and cheers all game long. Carlos Osorio / Toronto Star

United Glasgow FC Fights Discrimination & Exclusion through a Shared Love of Soccer
When asked to identify the cultural epicenters of the world, Glasgow might not immediately come to mind, but the city actually has a rich history of absorbing migrants into its folds; as the first Scottish city to receive dispersal of asylum applications to the UK, its population has since been colored by ethnic communities from South Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Even then, immigration—and integration, in particular—has been met with some resistance. That’s how United Glasgow FC began: as a simple idea.

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Contact InformationSarbjit “Sab” Singh