Sports Doing Good Newsletter, #158

April 5 – April 11, 2015

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

  1. Keeping Their Word: The Padres lifelong rookie
  2. Artist recreates hip-hop albums with NBA players
  3. Oklahoma football team stays united following a divisive spring on campus
  4. We Are Who We Become: Sport unites young people
  5. Russell Westbrook donated his All-Star Game MVP car to a single mom and her kids
  6. Former Olympics chief Rogge puts focus on sport for young refugees
  7. Major League Baseball (MLB) Teams Nurture Players’ Mental Health
  8. Sam Holtz gets his XBox One, donates another to Make-A-Wish Foundation
  9. Amid a Woeful Circus, Basketball’s Lowly Strivers Carry the Knicks
  10. IOC President joins Olympians to give back to sport on International Day of Sport for Development and Peace

In the world of sports, the main actors, i.e. players, teams, leagues, and organizations are most often seen in their primary role as performers, playing out in games and seasons that are the foundation of our love for sports. However, as we see week after week in the news and highlighted at Sports Doing Good, these entities do so much more. And this week, we again saw several examples of such uplifting behavior.

The previous and current heads of the International Olympic Committee, Jacques Rogge and Thomas Back, both took the opportunity to spread the message of the power of sport on the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace. These men and the thousands of people around the world involved with sport organizations are not just responsible for putting on major events, they are responsible for making sport accessible to the masses. These men are but two examples of this effort in action. Sport is a global language and it will only survive when it is spoken by everyone.

Another gesture that touched us deeply involved the MLB’s San Diego Padres and one of their former minor league players, Matt LaChappa. Since a tragic injury that occurred during a game, Matt has been confined to a wheelchair and been entirely dependent on others for his care. One of those that stepped in to help in that regard were the Padres. And not just once, but every year since the injury. By signing him to a deal, they allow him to have continued access to medical care. The love the team has for Matt is matched only by the love the LaChappa’s seem to have for the Padres.

Other stories that caught our attention this week include: an artist’s very cool mashup of NBA stars and iconic hip-hop albums; the Oklahoma Sooners football team; the “We Are Who We Become” campaign; NBA star Russell Westbrook; the mental health of Major League Baseball players; a smart and generous pre-teen; and the good effort of many players on the not-so-good New York Knicks.

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So enjoy. And have a good week.

Keeping Their Word: The Padres lifelong rookie
You may not know this rookie on the Padres payroll. Matt LaChappa has been a San Diego Padre for 19 years, even though his career was cut short on the field when his heart stopped in 1996. The Padres have signed him to a rookie contract every year since. At the age of 21, LaChappa was destined for the pros. He was a 6-foot-3 left-handed pitcher with a 95 mile per hour fastball…“The Padres are an exceptional organization that, they kept their word to Matt, said he’s always gonna be a Padre.” Matt’s father says that even after all his son has been through, his heart is healthy. The traumatic brain injury is what he’ll have to deal with for the rest of his life because of that lack of oxygen 19 years ago.

(photo, LaChappa)


Artist recreates hip-hop albums with NBA players

Have you ever imagined what it would look like if your favorite NBA stars had their own hip-hop album covers? Well, thankfully, New Jersey artist Jesse Nunez has. You can check out the full series here, but we couldn’t resist sharing a few with a selection of lyrics.

(photo, Stephen Curry1) Caption: “Automatic.” “It ain’t hard to tell, I excel, then prevail.” –Nas


Oklahoma football team stays united following a divisive spring on campus

“I didn’t come here to be a civil rights activist,” the player said. “I came here to play football. But that being said, you guys are my brothers, and I’m going to support you no matter what.” In the aftermath of a campus-wide scandal that sparked a national conversation about race and drew attention from coast to coast, it was the Sooners’ decision to stand together—literally—that can, and should, be the lasting image of a movement that will surely be remembered for years.

(photo, Oklahoma)


We Are Who We Become: Sport unites young people

We Are Who We Become is a campaign by International Sports Alliance, Right To Play – The Netherlands, KNVB Worldcoaches and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs that celebrates the power of sport for development. Because sport unites young people around the world and helps them build their future. ‘We Are Who We Become’ highlights the stories of Byron, Chief, Luvo, Robyn and Peter. Five young South Africans who are living testimonies of the power of sport and play. Their portraits symbolise the importance of sport for young people across the globe. They have all had their struggles; for them, life has not been an easy road. But they managed to come out stronger. And sport played a major role in that. Let their stories inspire you and those around you.



Russell Westbrook donated his All-Star Game MVP car to a single mom and her kids

Hey, here is a very nice thing! For his night of smashing on folks and nearly setting a points record in February, Russell Westbrook won All-Star Game MVP and a new car. Russell Westbrook does not need a new car, so he and the Thunder got in touch with Sunbeam Family Services in Oklahoma City and found someone who does:

(photo, Westbrook)


Former Olympics chief Rogge puts focus on sport for young refugees

But when the former Olympic yachtsman was then asked to help spread awareness about the importance of sport for refugee children, he could not resist the challenge. In April last year, he was appointed Special Envoy on Youth Refugees and Sport by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. This role has brought him into close contact with the UN refugee agency, meeting High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres last July in Geneva and visiting Jordan’s Azraq Refugee Camp, co-managed by UNHCR, in October. To mark yesterday’s International Day of Sport for Development and Peace, Rogge spoke in Brussels to UNHCR Communications and Advocacy Officer Frederik Smets about this new venture, telling him: “You can always find time for something you are passionate about.”

(photo, Rogge)  Caption: Jacques Rogge meets a sport-loving Syrian refugee during his visit last October to the Azraq Refugee Camp in Jordan.


Major League Baseball (MLB) Teams Nurture Players’ Mental Health

Long gone are the days when mental health was a taboo subject in major league locker rooms, and the days of a lone sports psychologist appear to be waning. While individual players have sought help with the mental side of the game for years, teams are responding to the changing attitudes by offering more assistance to their players in that area…“I think, as a whole, the industry is far more comprehensive,” said Doug Harris, an assistant general manager for the Nationals who also serves as their vice president for player development and pro scouting. “People are being more creative now, trying to help their players in any way they can.”

(photo, MLB)


Sam Holtz gets his XBox One, donates another to Make-A-Wish Foundation

After learning that Best Buy was awarding him a $1,000 gift card for his accomplishment, 12-year-old Sam decided to contact the Make-A-Wish Foundation. When he cashed in the gift card Thursday afternoon, Sam picked out a pair of XBox One video game systems, then announced he was donating one of them to Make-A-Wish, an organization that grants wishes to kids with life-threatening illnesses. “I decided to donate one of the XBox One systems to Make-A-Wish because of my cousin Alec,” Sam said. “When he was real little, he was in Make-A-Wish, and back then [23 years ago], people granted his wish of going to Disney World. I thought I’d kind of repay them for what they did for my cousin [who survived his illness and is now an adult].”

(photo, Holtz)  Caption: Lake Zurich Middle School North student Sam Holtz (middle) smiles with Tim Daly (left), the manager of the Best Buy in Kildeer, and Make-A-Wish Foundation director Ryan Blackburn on Thursday. (Tim Froehlig, Chicago Tribune)


Amid a Woeful Circus, Basketball’s Lowly Strivers Carry the Knicks

These are the hungry temp workers of the league, the undrafted strivers, the sacrificial lambs offered up to complete a season that was cooked by Christmas. Many of them have managed to stay on because they are giving their all, which is rarely enough to muster a victory, and because the Knicks are obligated to provide warm bodies in blue-and-orange uniforms until the team’s 82nd and final game next week.

As Derek Fisher, the Knicks’ coach and resident diplomat, put it after Wednesday’s loss: “Every team we play against, you know, they have guys that are more notable.”

(photo, Knicks)  Caption: Langston Galloway and Quincy Acy. Galloway began 2015 with the Westchester Knicks before joining the N.B.A. team. Credit Alex Goodlett for The New York Times


IOC President joins Olympians to give back to sport on International Day of Sport for Development and Peace

President Bach took time out of his demanding schedule to visit a fencing club in Rio de Janeiro during a recent trip to the host city of the 2016 Olympic Games. He joined young fencers from a fencing project for underprivileged children for a training session at Rio’s municipal club. Sharing his time and experience, the accomplished Olympian underlined the universality of sport. “They are gaining self-confidence”, he said. “They know that they have to respect others; that they have to respect the rules. They learn that in sport and in life you can lose and you can win and that a defeat is not the end of everything, and that a victory does not make you superior to others. We are all equal and we all respect the same rules and laws.”

(photo, Bach1)



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