Sports Doing Good Newsletter, #142

Dec. 14 – Dec. 20, 2014

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

  1. UCLA’s Eric Kendricks’ reaction to Butkus Award is priceless
  2. Brett Lawrie Takes Crying Girl For Pizza After Trade, Probably Earns Fan For Life
  3. How Exercise Changes Our DNA
  4. Kevin Love Surprises Elementary School Students With New Basketball Hoops
  5. Young Grandmasters Try to Make Chess Cool
  6. UL-Lafayette athletic program finding a way to thrive in tough times
  7. Baseball, boxing and beyond: How a U.S.-Cuba thaw could change the sports industry
  8. Ex-Gophers star Bobby Bell, a college grad at 74, says ‘anything is possible’
  9. FIFA Ethics Investigator Resigns Over Alleged Corruption
  10. LeBron James to Wear Special Nike LeBron 12 ID Celebrating Ohio Heroes

We have several stories this week that feature athletes, most of them young (Eric Kendricks; Brett Lawrie; Kevin Love; Magnus Carlsen and Fabiano Caruana; the Ragin’ Cajuns from Louisiana-Lafayette; and LeBron James) and one a bit older (HOFer Bobby Bell). Nothing unusual in that. What could be considered unusual is the inclusion of an attorney (Michael Garcia) who was investigating corruption and resigned from his position due to the obstinate resistance to change for the better by a global sports body (FIFA).

The reason we included Michael Garcia is that, as we all know, not everything in sports is good. There is a lot of bad going on. What keeps us going despite the bad are not just the stories of the countervailing good, but also the efforts of those who seek to change what ails individuals, communities, and organizations.

There is a lot wrong with FIFA, mostly it seems, at the highest levels of management. This is disappointing as FIFA is in charge of the “beautiful game,” our game. Millions across the globe are touched, even if just indirectly, by the organization. And yes, FIFA does a lot of good, especially in working with countries and communities in expanding and elevating the game of soccer/football. However, its persistent refusal to be held accountable at the highest levels is draining much of the confidence others have in the organization, which potentially could hurt it in the long run. We, therefore, applaud Michael Garcia and all others who see greatness in sport and do the often not-so-glorious work of effecting change.

Please continue to send along your stories. You are both our audience and our best source of stories. Our Twitter handle is @sportsdoinggood, and you can find us at

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So enjoy. And have a good week.

UCLA’s Eric Kendricks’ reaction to Butkus Award is priceless
If you haven’t seen the video yet of UCLA linebacker Eric Kendricks receiving the Butkus Award, it’s worth your time. If you’ve already seen it, watch it again. It doesn’t get old…“You talk about someone who is going to leave a legacy, he’s the Butkus Award winner, which is the equivalent to the Heisman for linebackers,” UCLA coach Jim Mora told reporters Friday morning. “It was a goal of his amongst his goals. I thought the reaction of his teammates was very telling of how they feel about him and the respect they have for him and the admiration they have for him. I’m so happy for him because he’s worked so hard. He’s just a shining example of what a student-athlete should be in every single way. It’s fantastic to see him get rewarded and recognized.”

Brett Lawrie Takes Crying Girl For Pizza After Trade, Probably Earns Fan For Life
A 6-year-old girl who was heartbroken by the Blue Jays trading Brett Lawrie has one more reason to keep cheering for him. Lawrie, who was dealt to the Oakland A’s in late November, saw the viral YouTube video of Amelia crying over his departure. So he took her out for pizza. Sweet, no? Here’s the clip that led to the pizza. Now the kid has a day to remember and Lawrie may have earned a fan for life.

How Exercise Changes Our DNA
We all know that exercise can make us fitter and reduce our risk for illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease. But just how, from start to finish, a run or a bike ride might translate into a healthier life has remained baffling. Now new research reports that the answer may lie, in part, in our DNA. Exercise, a new study finds, changes the shape and functioning of our genes, an important stop on the way to improved health and fitness.

Scientists know that certain genes become active or quieter as a result of exercise. But they hadn’t understood how those genes know how to respond to exercise.  Getty Images

Kevin Love Surprises Elementary School Students With New Basketball Hoops
Kevin Love is one of the NBA’s best passing big men. In particular, he is known for his outlet passes that trigger fast breaks. Love started different sort of scoring play to celebrate the start of the holiday season in early December. He made a surprise visit to Scranton Elementary School in Cleveland to help Dick’s Sporting Goods launch its #HolidayHoops. Dick’s is giving basketball hoops to two organizations every day in December, and Scranton Elementary was the first.

Young Grandmasters Try to Make Chess Cool
But that may be changing, at least partly because of Magnus Carlsen. The 23-year-old Norwegian, the reigning world champion, is blond and square-jawed; from certain angles, it’s as if you’re looking at Matt Damon. He has modeled for a clothing label, G-Star, in print ads (shot by Anton Corbijn, co-starring Liv Tyler) and television commercials (co-starring Lily Cole). And he has been aggressive about embracing new technologies. Mr. Carlsen has 85,000 Twitter followers and recently released an app, Play Magnus, that lets fans challenge simulations of him at different ages, from 5 to 23. And, now, in Mr. Caruana, he has the kind of foil that chess fans think could make their sport electric again. Mr. Caruana is young, like Mr. Carlsen. He is immensely talented. He projects a certain image — bookish rather than fashionable, though his adherents say that doesn’t pose a problem.

Magnus Carlsen, left, and Fabiano Caruana played in Zurich in February. Credit Walter Biere Keystone/Associated Press

UL-Lafayette athletic program finding a way to thrive in tough times
Farmer also understands you’ve got to give those fans a reason to keep coming. UL-Lafayette has done that. Consider during the 2013-14 school year, the football team won the Sun Belt Conference title and played in and won a third consecutive bowl game. The men’s basketball team advanced to the NCAA Tournament. The softball team played in the Women’s College World Series and the baseball team missed the CWS by one game…The athletic program embarked on an ambitious $115 million facilities upgrade last year. Construction is ongoing around the athletic facility and the new south end zone was completed in time for this season.

University of Louisiana-Lafayette players celebrate their victory in last year’s R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl. ( | The Times-Picayune)

Baseball, boxing and beyond: How a U.S.-Cuba thaw could change the sports industry
“They reason they haven’t a fan base is because there are 11 million people in Cuba and they can’t get out to see” Cuban fighters compete), says Hyde. “Put those fighters in a baseball stadium in Cuba and I guarantee that stadium would be full . . . But I obviously wouldn’t be charging $2,000 for ringside seats.” Wednesday’s announcement from the White House spurred similar speculation among baseball observers, who floated the idea that MLB could eventually expand to Havana. Big league teams have set up shop in the Caribbean before. From 1954 to 1960, the Havana Sugar Kings served as the Cincinnati Reds’ top farm team, and in 2003 the Montreal Expos played 22 home games in Puerto Rico. “Latin America is a market (where) MLB wants to have fans,” Burgos says. “It’s so much closer than Japan.”

In 1959, a rebel solider from Fidel Castro’s army holds the bat of Detroit catcher Charley Lau, who was playing ball in the Cuban winter league in Havana. Major League Baseball has a history in the island nation. The Associated Press file photo

Ex-Gophers star Bobby Bell, a college grad at 74, says ‘anything is possible’
“I know how much his dad wanted him to get a degree at a school like Minnesota,” Dickson said. “Fifty years later, and he finally did it. He took tough courses, but he did it. All the people who supported him, it was just amazing. He did the work. Life is wonderful when you’re around people like that. I got a little discouraged for years. When he decided to do it, he didn’t want to tell me right away. But I found out. When he finally told me, I knew he was committed. Because he never backs down.”

Former Gophers defensive lineman Bobby Bell was an All-American, Outland Trophy winner and finished third for the Heisman Trophy in 1962. (Photo courtesy of University of Minnesota Athletics)

FIFA Ethics Investigator Resigns Over Alleged Corruption
FIFA ethics investigator Michael Garcia resigned on Wednesday in protest at the way his report into allegations of corruption in awarding the 2018 and 2022 World Cup tournaments to Russia and Qatar was handled by the soccer governing body’s ethics judge. Former U.S. prosecutor Garcia said in a statement that he had lost confidence in the independence of the ethics committee’s adjudicatory chamber after judge Hans-Joachim Eckert issued a 42-page statement in November based on the report. The credibility of Zurich-based FIFA’s ability to police itself has been questioned inside the sport and Garcia’s comments appeared to deal another blow to the organization.

LeBron James to Wear Special Nike LeBron 12 ID Celebrating Ohio Heroes
To celebrate, Nike and James selected 12 “Ohio heroes,” people who are making a big difference in their communities, and designed a special version of the Nike LeBron 12 to honor them and represent their stories…Basketball coach Dru Joyce, who coached LeBron when he was at Saint Vincent-Saint Mary High School in Akron, and Jonathan Sawyer, one of Cleveland’s most renowned chefs, are included in this prestigious group, along with a Cleveland firefighter, a doctor, a teacher and others. James will wear one of the shoes in an upcoming game.

Boy’s and Girl’s Club Director Richard Starr and his Nike LeBron 12 ID

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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 forward 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.
Contact InformationSarbjit “Sab” Singh