Sports Doing Good Newsletter, #154

March 8 – March 14, 2015

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

  1. Cosmos to Lead Return to Post-Embargo Cuba
  2. Shiffrin wins World Cup slalom, reunites with teen fan
  3. Will Ferrell Plays For 10 Baseball Teams In A Single Day
  4. NBC offers aura of nostalgia about boxing
  5. The Incredible Way John Cena Gave This Teen the Best Day of His Life
  6. Player who recently lost his mom hits buzzer-beater to send Albany to the tourney
  7. Wichita State invites Loyola’s lone cheerleader to join cheers
  8. For Cortney Jordan, Can-Am Champs Are First Step To Rio
  9. For the Bookers, basketball, life provide incredible bond
  10. A Moment Atop the World for Bhutan’s Last-Ranked Team

Sometimes in sports we have to wait a long time for something good to happen, whether that is our favorite team winning a particular game/championship (I’m still waiting Knicks, Mets, Jets and Hoyas!) or just getting to see something special take place. This week two of the stories we feature speak to this issue of patience and reward. First, it was reported that the New York Cosmos, the legendary soccer team, will be playing a game in Cuba in early June. This will be the first professional sports event involving a U.S. sports team in that island nation in over 15 years and one of just a handful in the past 50, the game could signal the start of a flood of interactions between these two great sporting nations. The upside for everyone involved is surely there.

In another story dealing with patience, the country of Bhutan, currently ranked last in the world according to FIFA’s global rankings, won their first-ever World Cup qualifying game. The team, long operating under tough conditions with limited resources, has seen a change in attitude amongst the players as they see marked improvement in their play. Their prospects, mostly nonexistent, are blossoming, which should give hope to other countries developing their own sports culture, including Cuba.

Other stories featured this week include: superstar U.S. skier Mikaela Shiffrin and her special fan; funnyman and sports “legend” Will Ferrell; NBC and the return of primetime boxing; WWE superstar John Cena and one of his special fans; University of Albany basketball player Peter Hooley, dealing with family tragedy while leading his team to the NCAA tournament; the great sportsmanship displayed by the Wichita State cheerleading squad; the very busy Paralympic athlete Cortney Jordan; and the father-son basketball duo of Melvin and Devin Booker.

Finally, we want to highlight the upcoming NYC Sport for Development Collaborative. The event will be taking place on March 27. The March event will feature Tom Farrey, leader of the Sports & Society Program at The Aspen Institute, speaking about the recent release of the Project Play report. This report comes as the result of a multi- year, multi stage effort to provide thought leadership for sport to build healthy communities, starting with universal access to an early positive experience in sports.  To attend the event, Please RSVP to: Katherine Tomaino at

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So enjoy. And have a good week.

Cosmos to Lead Return to Post-Embargo Cuba
The Cosmos are a particularly attractive first opponent for Cuba because of their strong global brand and because they have the former Spain World Cup stars Raúl and Marcos Senna as well as several players from Central and South America. While Cuba’s main sporting preoccupation is baseball, it now has a serious rival in soccer. The United States national team regularly meets Cuba’s national team in international matches and won by 4-1 in the last meeting, in Sandy, Utah, during the 2013 Gold Cup. The teams are hardly rivals, however; the Americans have won all seven games between the teams since 1998, including a World Cup qualifier in 2008, but before that they had not met in men’s soccer since 1949.

The former Spain World Cup stars Raul, No. 7, and Marcos Senna, as well as a roster with strong influences from Central and South America, make the Cosmos an attractive opponent in Cuba. Credit Victor Fraile/Getty Images

Shiffrin wins World Cup slalom, reunites with teen fan
After outclassing her opponents to win her fourth World Cup slalom race of the season, Mikaela Shiffrin invited a young girl with a bashful smile to join her on the podium. Emma Lundell, 13, is fighting leukemia. Though it’s not over yet, she is starting to win that battle, and cites Shiffrin’s courage on the slopes as her biggest inspiration. “I feel that beats anything I can do on the race hill,” an emotional Shiffrin said after the award ceremony Saturday in Are. “So she deserves to be on the top step of the podium.”

(AP Photo/Pontus Lundahl, TT) SWEDEN OUT

Will Ferrell Plays For 10 Baseball Teams In A Single Day
Will may not have won the World Series that day but he certainly came out a winner. The funny man partnered up with Major League Baseball and HBO for the Mar.10 event. Together, they raised nearly 1 million dollars for the charities Stand Up to Cancer and Cancer for College! Holy Cow! And for those of us who wish we were there to see Will in action – don’t worry! Everything was filmed by Funny Or Die for an upcoming HBO special. We have to admire Will’s moxie because when he got in the game, he really GOT in the game. Play one position? Will decided to play all 9! And why just be on one team when he could be on ten! In fact, Will often changed teams–and uniforms–right in the middle of the game, joining his former team’s opponent!

Play ball! And that’s what Will Ferrell did, raising money for charity in a barnstorming event that saw the ‘Get Hard’ star play for 10 baseball teams in a single day!

NBC offers aura of nostalgia about boxing
The TV boxing literature is not confined to fathers and sons. Children these days are mystified when the story of Eloise, the girl who lives at the Plaza, gets to the page on which she spends her Friday nights watching the fights with her nanny, who drinks room-service beer and smokes cigarettes. My daughters, not used to seeing me in front of the TV on Saturday night, looked in on me repeatedly to ask who was winning and to root for the guy with the braids. If NBC’s plans for prime-time boxing pan out, perhaps sometime in the 2050s they will be moved to write bittersweetly reminiscent poetry about their old dad watching the Saturday night fights.

Keith Thurman throws a punch in a Premier Boxing Champions bout with Robert Guerrero in Las Vegas March 7. Harry How/Getty Images/ istockphoto; globe staff illustration

The Incredible Way John Cena Gave This Teen the Best Day of His Life
Cena hugged Kevin, then gave the teen the “Never Give Up” sweatband he’d been wearing. The photos below show just how much the 16-year-old’s mind was blown. “To witness this event — wow. I cried,” Eileen Ryan, Kevin’s aunt, told The Mighty. “Kevin shows unconditional love to anyone in his company. He’s one of 30 cousins, and he brings joy to all. To watch him meet his hero was incredible. After the event, he came up to my husband and me and said, ‘Thank you. This was the best day of my life.’”

Player who recently lost his mom hits buzzer-beater to send Albany to the tourney
“It’s been everything for me,” Hooley said earlier this month. “Here’s another family on the other side of the world that’s helped me transition back into my life over here. They are my brothers, and they’re always here for me. When I fall down, they pick me back up and they know I’d do the same for them.” And so it was on Saturday, at the end of a game Albany had trailed nearly the entire way, including by seven with under two minutes to go. At the end of a game in which Hooley had made just two of his 13 shots. At the end of a game in which the top-seeded Great Danes were about to lose on their home court with an NCAA tournament bid on the line. Then it happened.

As the Albany students rushed the court and pandemonium surrounded him, the man of the hour was overcome with emotion. And there seems to be little doubt who he was thinking of at that moment.

Wichita State invites Loyola’s lone cheerleader to join cheers
After Loyola University could only send one cheerleader to the Missouri Valley Conference women’s basketball tournament, the Wichita State cheerleaders invited the sophomore to cheer with them during timeouts when the two teams played on Friday. The cheerleader, Maddie Kenney, was the only member of the team who did not have a conflict with midterm exams. Kenney said she initially thought the Wichita State cheerleaders were kidding, but during the first timeout, she was “raised in the air” with the rest of the team.

For Cortney Jordan, Can-Am Champs Are First Step To Rio
While she’s training, Jordan also is busy — very busy — with plenty of other projects. She’s working on her master’s degree in elementary education at Loyola and will graduate next May. That, she says, will be perfect timing. She’ll be able to devote about three consecutive months to intense training leading up to the Paralympic Games. But between now and then, Jordan will maintain a hectic schedule. She works as a nanny, she coaches swimming, she works in a nursery and she’s doing student teaching (doing an after-school class that focuses on reading and working with words). She also was working as a lifeguard, too, but had to give it up. “Yeah, my days are pretty crazy,” said Jordan, whose training teammates have labeled her “Team Mom” because of her desire to look out for others. Jordan of USA in the Women’s 200m Individual Medley SM7 race on day 4 of the London 2012 Paralympic Games at Aquatics Centre on September 2, 2012 in London, England.

For the Bookers, basketball, life provide incredible bond
It’s those car rides that Devin most remembers from his time in Mississippi. It’s when they turned from father and son into something more than that: A bond that hovered somewhere between family and friendship. “It was more than just basketball,” Melvin Booker said. “I was making up for lost time. Time that I didn’t spend with him in his childhood. The drives, the rides in the cars, the talks, the restaurants, sitting there eating together, just getting to know each other, getting to know each other well. Because we had been apart for so many years. We just spent basically every day together.”

A Moment Atop the World for Bhutan’s Last-Ranked Team
By the time the teams lined up for the anthems in sweltering heat, only a few hundred fans had arrived for the match. A majority were medical students from Bhutan who lived in Colombo. The heat had little effect. Bhutan attacked freely from the whistle and looked anything but the worst team in the world. Chencho Gyeltshen, Bhutan’s only player with professional experience, hit the post with a shot, and Tshering missed an open goal. Sri Lanka hit the bar, too. The expected massacre was not to be. As the match approached full time, Gyeltshen burst down the wing and cut the ball back, allowing midfielder Tshering Dorji, 21, to blast into the empty net. The match finished, 1-0, and the worst team in international soccer had won its first match in World Cup play.

Tshering Dorji, with his Bhutan teammates after scoring the lone goal in a 1-0 win over Sri Lanka. Ishara S. Kodikara/Agence France-Presse-Getty Images

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Sarbjit “Sab” Singh