Sports Doing Good Newsletter, #131

Sept. 28 – Oct. 4, 2014

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

  1. How a boy from Ghana inspired a team to travel the 2,320 miles of the mighty Mississippi
  2. San Antonio Spurs add applied sports scientist, which is a totally Spurs thing to do
  3. LeBron James, young fan with leukemia share embrace during great moment at Cavaliers scrimmage
  4. NBA, Dr. Oz to promote healthy living at NYC schools
  5. US coach takes snowboarding lessons to playgrounds
  6. Peters Township Swim Club raising funds for the American Cancer Society
  7. Justin Lynch: US Swimming’s Next Michael Phelps?
  8. How 20-something college buddies went from a dream to running the Grand Rapids Drive
  9. Russell Wilson Launches ‘Pass The Peace’ Campaign To Help Domestic Violence Victims
  10. Women Get Spot at Sports-Talk Table

For eternity there has been dispute and conflict in the world, whether on a local, regional, national or global scale. That conflict is often borne from a feeling of hate and disdain that has no real, exact identifiable source or at least is not at all commensurate with the damage that such conflict inflicts. Thankfully, we have, as the human race, survived partly because we have countervailing feelings of love, compassion, and empathy. We aim to make not only our lives better but those of others, including those we don’t know and will never meet. Sports has long been a regular source of those positive feelings and our vehicle to drive such incredible impact.

This week many of the featured stories touch upon those special feelings in some way. Whether it is Right to Play UK Chairman John Pritchard being inspired by a young boy in Ghana, LeBron James’s interaction with a young cancer patient in Cleveland, an effort by the NBA and others to promote healthy living to those who may not have the resources to fend for themselves, a legendary snowboarding coach who believes so strongly in the ability of sport to empower young people, or Super Bowl champion Russell Wilson taking a public stand and putting forth a challenge to all of us to not shy away from the very important issue of domestic violence and how we can all be part of a solution to combat the problem, each individual and organization is finding energy in the sentiments that define the best of us, i.e. love, compassion, and empathy. For all of eternity those sentiments have been there and we are confident that sport will continue be the source of such positive change.

Finally, a shout-out to Alec Scheiner, President of the NFL’s Cleveland Browns. Alec took time out this week to speak via Skype to a group of more than 50 students at Farmingdale State College in New York from his office in Cleveland. The group was treated to an insightful, honest, and motivating talk about the sports business world. As one of the students said to me, “I will never forget this. Books are good but to hear from someone who lives everyday what my dream is, that is inspiring. I may not end up a team president but I am going to make a difference somehow.” Thank you Alec.

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So enjoy. And have a good week.

How a boy from Ghana inspired a team to travel the 2,320 miles of the mighty Mississippi
For a school like Three Kings—short on the resources needed to adequately support special needs children like Richmond—Right To Play games are an effective way to adapt lessons to ensure all children are engaged in their learning. “Unfortunately Richmond’s story is not a unique one,” says Right To Play President and CEO Johann Koss. “Millions of children around the world have been given a life with so little opportunity, yet every one of them is born with the same limitless potential. With the support of people like John and the Mississippi Million, we can work to ensure every child has a chance at a childhood and the opportunity to learn, grow and reach their full potential through play.”

Mississippi Million challenge will see international team of philanthropists row the famed U.S. river to raise $1 million for Right To Play

San Antonio Spurs add applied sports scientist, which is a totally Spurs thing to do
So what, exactly, is an applied sports scientist? Just a fancy term for trainer, or something entirely different? According to, it is the application of “cutting edge science for optimal athletic achievement.” In other words, helping athletes reach peak performance while preventing injuries — both of which are obviously really, really important things when you’re trying to succeed in sports. Interestingly, some trace the field all the way back to ancient Greece, where the physician Galen wrote scores of essays on how to improve physical health. Some 1,800 years later, distant successors like Schelling, who was previously the director of athletic performance for eight seasons with Basquet Manresa of the Spanish league, are helping professional athletes perform better.

LeBron James, young fan with leukemia share embrace during great moment at Cavaliers scrimmage
Jackie Custer, 16, has leukemia, and has been undergoing treatment since June. Her fight’s been anything but easy — since her cancer diagnosis, she’s suffered a stroke, a blood clot and an infection — but Custer has remained positive and proactive, even choosing to donate 10 inches of her hair to the charity Locks of Love this summer before her treatment would have prompted hair loss. She was one of the 18 fans in attendance on Wednesday to win a scrimmage-worn jersey right off the back of one of the Cavaliers players, and when it was her turn to collect, she got not only the most sought-after jersey of the evening, but also a big ol’ bear hug from the man himself.–young-fan-with-leukemia-share-embrace-during-great-moment-at-cavaliers-scrimmage-172550581.html

Jackie Custer, 16, embraces Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James after an NBA scrimmage basketball game Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

NBA, Dr. Oz to promote healthy living at NYC schools
The NBA will get an assist from Dr. Oz next basketball season when they work together to give city public school kids lessons on how to lead more healthy lives. Their program, which will be carried out by Oz’s non-profit HealthCorps and NBA Cares, will visit 13 public schools in the city and will emphasize having an active lifestyle and mental toughness. “The NBA is committed to teaming up with top community-based organizations to bring health-focused programming to kids,” said Dikembe Mutombo, a former Knick and Net. “We are able to make a greater impact and encourage youth to make the best decisions about their health and well-being.”

Dikembe Mutombo, a former Knick and Net, will visit a number of public schools with other NBA players. Photo: Getty Images

US coach takes snowboarding lessons to playgrounds
It’s about teaching games, but also about conflict resolution and making the playground a safer, more productive place — especially as kids’ time in the playground gets shrunk because of dwindling resources, fewer physical education classes, along with the ever-growing presence of video games. “It’s about having time on the playground to work together,” Jankowski said. “It’s combating bullying, dealing with other social issues, health issues, education issues. It’s also about helping kids stay sharp and focused when they go back into the classroom from the playground.”

In this Jan. 23, 2010, file photo, Mike Jankowski, right, coach for the U.S. Olympic snowboard team, answers a question at a news conference following the naming of the team, in Park City, Utah. From left are Louie Vito and Scott Lago. “Sports is something that I’ve learned, first-hand, about how it can empower people’s lives,” said Jankowski, who on Thursday, Sept. 25, 2014, teamed with the Laureus Sport For Good Foundation to give a $750,000 grant to the nonprofit group Playworks. (AP Photo/Colin E Braley, File)

Peters Township Swim Club raising funds for the American Cancer Society
It is always important to give back to the community, no matter the age or gender – and if the event or fundraiser unites everyone together, as is the case of USA Swimming’s Swim-A-Thon, then all the better. Unity is a message that has always been stressed in the Peters Township Swim Club, and a Swim For Life Swim-A-Thon achieves that message perfectly…However, unlike the traditional Swim-A-Thon where donated funds are used by the swim team, the creator of the Peters Township’s Swim-A-Thon, Jake Rose, decided to help save lives by donating funds to the American Cancer Society instead.

Swim for Life will take place October 17

Justin Lynch: US Swimming’s Next Michael Phelps?
His record-breaking swim made headlines in 2013, but not just for his time. With an African-American father and a Filipina mother, Lynch will be the only minority swimmer on the Cal team. Swimming is overwhelmingly white, perhaps a result of the history of discrimination in access to municipal swimming pools. The modern-day result can be tragic: Nearly 70 percent of African-American children between the ages of 5 and 14 have little to no swimming ability, and they drown at rates three times that of white children…“I think it would be cool to break down those barriers. Cullen Jones already got that started, but if I could help bring other minorities into the sport, that would be great,” Lynch says.

Justin Lynch not only is a terrific rising star in swimming, but also brings diversity to the sport.

How 20-something college buddies went from a dream to running the Grand Rapids Drive
It wasn’t long ago that Steve Jbara and Wesley Weir were just out of college with big dreams, working out together and talking about someday running a professional sports team. Now, “someday” is on a fast break as the two major operators of the Grand Rapids Drive have less than two months before the new NBA-D League team makes its home debut. “We’ll be ready,” said Jbara, the 26-year-old president of the team. “We may not sleep because we’re going to keep pushing it,” said Weir, 28, the vice president of sales.

Former college roommates Steve Jbara, left, and Wesley Weir are preparing for the debut season of the Grand Rapids Drive. (Grand Rapids Drive photo)

Russell Wilson Launches ‘Pass The Peace’ Campaign To Help Domestic Violence Victims
The Seattle Seahawks’ Super Bowl-winning quarterback introduced the “Pass The Peace” campaign to raise awareness and funds for victims of domestic violence on Thursday. In a personal essay posted at The Players Tribune, Wilson outlined his vision for the campaign associated with his Why Not You Foundation and challenged people to donate to the National Domestic Violence Hotline. “I want us to Pass the Peace to support victims of domestic violence,” wrote Wilson at The Players Tribune. “The idea behind Pass the Peace is simple: It’s a promise. I’m sharing my love for you. I want to take care of you. I am here for you.”

Women Get Spot at Sports-Talk Table
“We Need to Talk,” on the CBS Sports Network, is an attention-grabbing idea: a talk show with women discussing sports, just as men have done almost exclusively for decades. As the first episode on Tuesday night made evident, a compelling concept has yielded a compelling program that should become a staple on the channel. The show arrived at a moment no one envisioned when it was conceived more than a year ago: the domestic violence crisis in the N.F.L., which has proved to be Commissioner Roger Goodell’s crucible.

“We Need to Talk” airs on the CBS Sports Network. Credit CBS

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