Sports Doing Good Newsletter, #146

Jan. 11 – Jan. 17, 2015

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

  1. Blackhawks, Patrick Sharp help 16-year old blind fan’s dream come true (video)
  2. Dear Bully: An Open Letter from Charlie Villanueva
  3. ESPN’s 30 for 30 Shorts: Reggie Ho – Student/Athlete (video)
  4. Sports executive shares love for lacrosse with city youth
  5. Historic First: Climbers Reach Top of El Capitan’s Dawn Wall at Yosemite
  6. Mass Support for Premier League Kicks
  7. What will sports look like in the future? (TED)
  8. Duke Student Athletes Speak Out on the Power of Language
  9. How one Olympian’s failure helped her land a job at Google
  10. Obama honors Spurs, says they represent what U.S. should be about

The use of words to support our favorite teams and athletes is a hallmark of sports. With ingenious signs and creative chants, we express the passion we have for sports in general and these players and teams in particular. However, there are unfortunately more than a few instances of the use of words to deliver hate and harm.

This week two of the stories highlight efforts to make all of us aware of the power of words and how their misuse has no place in society, let alone in sports. From pro basketball player Charlie Villanueva to college students from Duke University, we are enlightened by their personal experiences and daily interaction with athletes and non-athletes alike and encouraged to be more sensitive to how the words we use impact others. Kudos to them and so many others championing the cause for empathy and excellence in the world of sports.

Other stories that caught our attention this week include: a wonderful opportunity presented by the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks to one of its special fans; the intriguing history of ex-student-athlete and current doctor Reggie Ho; the great impact of the Metro Lacrosse program; the historic achievement of two American climbers; a growing soccer program in London that is helping to transform lives; an enlightening conversation about the future of sports; the resiliency of former Olympic skater Emily Hughes; and the acknowledgement of the uber-success of the NBA’s champions, the San Antonio Spurs.

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So enjoy. And have a good week.

Blackhawks, Patrick Sharp help 16-year old blind fan’s dream come true (video)
Christina DeVries is a 16-year old Chicago Blackhawks fan who before this season had never attended a game at United Center. Among the obstacles she’s faced in her young life is that she’s blind. She had never been able to see her favorite team win or watch her favorite players skate and score goals. Earlier this season, the Blackhawks ran an ad campaign asking fans, “What’s your goal?” For Christina, the answer was simple: she wanted to go to a Blackhawks game. Making it happen wasn’t so simple, given the high demand and price for tickets in Chicago. Her family started a Give Forward page in hopes of raising money, but the team did one better. They surprised Christina by bringing her to United Center, meeting Patrick Sharp and attending a game last month.–patrick-sharp-help-16-year-old-blind-fan-s-dream-come-true–video-003255597.html

Dear Bully: An Open Letter from Charlie Villanueva
We all make mistakes, but that’s not a way to live. That’s not a way to behave. God made us all equal and regardless of our physical difference, we should treat and respect each other equally. I’m writing this to you in hopes you realize the damage you’re doing… not to me, but to yourself. Look at yourself in the mirror and repeat those comments to yourself; it’s not cool. Respect your peers. And before you have something negative to say to someone, think about what you say first before you speak. God help you.

ESPN’s 30 for 30 Shorts: Reggie Ho – Student/Athlete (video)
Reggie Ho never dreamed of playing football in college. Growing up in Hawaii, Reggie always visualized himself to be a doctor like his father. Yet he ended up playing a crucial role in Notre Dame’s most recent undefeated season.

Sports executive shares love for lacrosse with city youth
Metro Lacrosse is the biggest urban lacrosse program in the country. More than 700 young people from 4th to 12th grade from the city and surrounding areas take part each year. Since the programs began in 1994, Jones says about 75 percent of the participants have graduated from college. Many also play collegiate lacrosse. The majority of the participants are children of color, recruited from Boston Public Schools. Lacrosse is in the nonprofit’s name, but Jones says Metro is just as focused on academics. “We are a sports-based youth development program.”

Metro Lacrosse places an equal emphasis on sports and academics. Photo Courtesy of Metro Lacrosse

Historic First: Climbers Reach Top of El Capitan’s Dawn Wall at Yosemite
Using only their feet and their bloodied hands, two climbers accomplished a once-unimaginable feat Wednesday by clambering to the top of the 3,000-foot, almost vertical face of a granite rock formation in Yosemite National Park. It took 19 days and countless scrapes and cuts from the rock’s razor edges, but Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson became the first to scale the Dawn Wall of El Capitan without tools to help them up. Some experts described it as the most daunting rock climb in history.

Mass Support for Premier League Kicks
The London Premier League Kicks scheme, which has been running across 20 London boroughs, has worked with over 1,300 12–18 year old Londoners who are either in a gang or deemed at risk of becoming involved in crime. In line with the Mayor’s ambitions for young Londoners and his efforts to tackle youth crime, it offers people the opportunity to turn away from gang life and instead take part in football lessons and life skills workshops led by Premier League Football Clubs including Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur. The year-long pilot programme has exceeded its targets, working with nearly 500 more young Londoners than expected, and providing over 30,000 hours of activity across the capital.

New figures have been released showing the great success of Premier League Kicks

What will sports look like in the future? (TED)
Sports science journalist David Epstein (TED Talk: Are athletes really getting faster, better, stronger?) thinks a lot about how athletics change rapidly over time, while NFL punter Chris Kluwe (TED Talk: How augmented reality will change sports … and build empathy) ponders the impact AR, particularly Google Glass, could have on major sports. We invited them to have a conversation with Cynthia Bir, lead scientist at ESPN’s Sport Science, who took a look at how basketball players use physics to make shots at TEDYouth late last year. Below, an edited transcript of that conversation. Read on to hear how each of these thinkers parses the fine line of fairness when it comes to new science and technology in sports, and what each thinks competitions will look like 10 years from now.

Duke Student Athletes Speak Out on the Power of Language
Efforts to dispel homophobia and other forms of discrimination in the world of sports have become increasingly relevant. There’s been a remarkable uptick in openly-LGBTQ professional athletes. Last summer, FIFA investigated the Mexican Football Federation for fans’ use of the word “puto” at the World Cup. Most recently, the International Olympic Committee decided last month to add sexual orientation to the non-discrimination language in the Olympic Charter. Though some Duke fans aren’t exactly on board with our campaign’s messaging, I’m fortunate to attend a school where many of the student-athletes not only understand the importance of these issues, but also are fighting the battle against discrimination in a more than impressive fashion.

How one Olympian’s failure helped her land a job at Google
This 25-year-old former Olympian joined Google as a business analyst in November, and it was her love of competition – and an extraordinary tolerance for risk-taking and failure – that helped her land the job. “I think in sports in general, there’s a lot of transferable skills that you can bring to the workplace,” says Hughes, who moved from Great Neck, N.Y., to San Francisco to begin her new gig at Google’s Mountain View offices. “In skating, every day, you fall and you have to get up. And falling is a pretty obvious failure. I’ve definitely learned from everything I’ve failed at.”

Emily Hughes smiles during a news conference in the media center at the 2006 Winter Olympic Games in Turin, Italy. Photograph by Corey Sipkin — NY Daily News via Getty Images

Obama honors Spurs, says they represent what U.S. should be about
President Barack Obama is praising the sportsmanship of the San Antonio Spurs as ”a great metaphor for what America should be all about.” Obama hosted the Spurs at the White House on Monday to celebrate their victory in the 2014 NBA championship. Obama says the Spurs have become the United Nations of basketball teams due to the team’s diversity. He says it shows how basketball has become an international sport. Obama singled the team out for hiring WNBA star Becky Hammon last year. She’s the first full-time, paid female assistant on an NBA coaching staff. Obama praised the Spurs for their public service efforts on literacy and community development in San Antonio.

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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.

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Contact InformationSarbjit “Sab” Singh