May 10 – May 16, 2015
Welcome to week one hundred sixty-three of the Sports Doing Good newsletter. This week’s 10 stories include:
- Oluwole Betiku’s journey to big-time football
- Silence On The Sidelines: An MLB Insider’s ‘Manifesto’ On Youth Sports
- Edwin Moses: The Case for Sports as a Key Driver for Academic Success
- Giannis Antetokounmpo and His Brother Played Pickup Basketball in Athens
- NASCAR community comes together for ‘Catwalk For A Cause’
- Seneca High’s Madison Schulte is SI’s May High School Athlete of the Month
- From the Quotable Mouths of the Memphis Grizzlies, Straight to Ad-Libbed T-Shirts
- Mitt Romney and Evander Holyfield Get Ready To Rumble for Charity
- Grace Autosport becomes first all-female team in IndyCar history
- Why Everton midfielder Muhamed Besic started supporting homeless charities
One of the big stories this week in the news was the $8 million donation made by Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo to the Save the Children organization for their work in the earthquake-stricken country of Nepal. Everything about the previous sentence is correct except the $8 million part. It turns out that such a donation was not made. While many people were disappointed, including us, there was no evidence that the story was put out by Ronaldo or his camp. Instead, as is wont in today’s society, an untrue story took on a life of its own but thankfully at least in this instance, was corrected.
Again, everything about the story other than the donation is true. The people of Nepal have suffered not one but two devastating earthquakes. The people are in desperate need of help and like with other natural disasters, the damage is significant and the work to recover will be long-lasting. Often times in such situations we hear about athletes stepping up to support this work, especially athletes who are from that region or have some connection to it. We see that happen in the U.S. and in other parts of the world. There is a bit of a challenge when the place suffering, such as Nepal, does not benefit from having such a pool of sports heroes who can help financially or via other means. That is why, in this case with Ronaldo, while a donation did not materialize, yet, his very real efforts to rally his millions of fans and social media followers is greatly needed and appreciated. We hope that other individuals and organizations, sports-related or otherwise, keep the people of Nepal in mind as they seek to begin to rally from this natural disaster.
This week we again have very real stories that you will find to be inspiring, fun, and meaningful. Those include: emerging football star Oluwole Betiku; an insightful take on the management of youth sports by a former MLB star; the case for sports as a driver of academic success; pro basketball-playing brothers showing out back in their homeland of Greece; the NASCAR community holding their own “Catwalk For A Cause”; star high school student-athlete Madison Schulte; and the charity boxing match between the “Stormin’ Mormon” and the “Real Deal”; amongst other stories.
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Oluwole Betiku’s journey to big-time football
Growing up in the outskirts of Lagos, Nigeria, much of Betiku’s upbringing was wildly different than virtually all of his fellow Class of 2016 recruits. He recounts walking miles to fetch water — which became especially important during the dry season. Washing clothes by hand, walking to school and corporal punishment were regular parts of life in the eastern African country. “It was a different experience,” Betiku said. “We played soccer in the streets with no shoes. There wasn’t a 24-hour supply of electricity, so you had to be outside playing with your friends and mixing with everyone.” Betiku knew from an early age that he wanted to come to the U.S. and knew that sports would be his best vehicle.
Silence On The Sidelines: An MLB Insider’s ‘Manifesto’ On Youth Sports
Imagine you’re in a stressful situation, trying to do something really difficult, and a bunch of your friends and family are watching, screaming at the top of their lungs while you’re trying to do it. My guest, Mike Matheny, says that’s exactly what parents do to their kids all the time in youth sports. Matheny’s a former big-league catcher who spent 13 years in the majors, winning four Gold Glove Awards. He’s now the manager of the St. Louis Cardinals, but he’s almost as well-known for a code of behavior he wrote after he retired from the big leagues and agreed to coach his son’s youth baseball team. The rules were for the parents, who, Matheny says, are the biggest problem in youth sports. We asked Matheny to come in and talk to us about kids and parents in youth sports, his playing career, what it’s like to manage in the big leagues and about his book, “The Matheny Manifesto: A Young Manager’s Views On Success In Sports And Life.”
Edwin Moses: The Case for Sports as a Key Driver for Academic Success
This is where sport for development organizations have stepped in to take a leading role in complementing in-school sports with after-school activities for students. Many programs are set up specifically to provide two things – organized play to engage the kids in physical activity and trained mentorship and tutoring to provide guidance and emotional support. It’s the trained mentors and coaches that are the common denominator throughout all sport for development programs, and set them apart from other organizations or philanthropists that may build new playing facilities or provide new equipment. Of course kids need the proper facilities and equipment to play, but without the necessary trained mentorship and coaching sport for development provides, kids won’t gain the full benefits that have been shown to put them on the path toward academic success.
Giannis Antetokounmpo and His Brother Played Pickup Basketball in Athens
With his Milwaukee Bucks eliminated from the playoffs and his second NBA season finished, Giannis Antetokounmpo is back where it all began. The freakishly athletic 20-year-old has returned to Greece, and specifically the basketball court where he learned to love the game. Earlier this week he posted a note to Twitter essentially saying that he and his brother, New York Knicks prospect Thanasis Antetokounmpo, would be playing a pickup game at the courts in the Sepolia neighborhood of Athens. Antetokounmpo put on a display that included the type of smooth handles and rim-rocking dunks that have led to him earning the nickname “The Greek Freak.” Thanasis, who is two years older than Giannis and plays for the Knicks’ D-League team, didn’t look too bad either.
NASCAR community comes together for ‘Catwalk For A Cause’
The NASCAR community came together on Wednesday night for the 6th annual “Catwalk For A Cause.” The event – created by Martin Truex Jr. and girlfriend Sherry Pollex – raises money for pediatric cancer research and families of children being treated at Charlotte’s Levine Children’s Hospital. Some of NASCAR’s biggest stars – including Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kevin Harvick and Danica Patrick – walked the runway with “Catwalk Heroes” … children who are battling or have recently won their battle with various forms of cancer. Here are some pictures from the incredible night.
Seneca High’s Madison Schulte is SI’s May High School Athlete of the Month
“Now I know that I can step back from things and it’s not going to ruin everything. I know now that I have the opportunity to make my own decisions in life and do what’s best for me,” she says. “That’s what I’m going to base my whole life on now. Whatever decision I’m going to make I’m always going to follow my heart because it worked out best for me now and I know that in the future that’s what I’m going to need to do: what’s best for me, not to hurt anyone else, but I know I have to put myself first.” It’s a valuable life lesson Paul is glad his daughter learned now while the stakes are high school sports. One day not far off in the future there will be career, relationship and life decisions to weigh. “She’s going to change, just like she did with sports, everybody does,” he says. “It’s not quitting, it’s changing from one thing to the other until you get set in a spot you like.”
From the Quotable Mouths of the Memphis Grizzlies, Straight to Ad-Libbed T-Shirts
The Grizzlies sell their own shirts and apparel through league-licensed manufacturers like Adidas. But they typically hand out Growl Towels to fans before playoff games instead of T-shirts, helping to create a small T-shirt vacuum that several of the city’s artists and designers have been eager to fill. “It’s a way for people from Memphis to artistically express how we view the Grizzlies,” said Jon Broach, 35, a freelance graphic artist who has worked with Smith. “And a lot of it has to do with the Grizzlies organization. They’re really tied to the community. They’ve taken this philanthropic approach.”
Memphis Grizzlies fans lined up to buy bootleg T-shirts, which have become a booming business with the Grizzlies’ playoff success. Brad Vest for The New York Times
Mitt Romney and Evander Holyfield Get Ready To Rumble for Charity
The pair of heavyweights (on political, the other athletic) are facing off Friday night in Salt Lake City to benefit CharityVision, an nonprofit that works with physicians in developing countries to eradicate curable blindness. Romney – who said his sons nicknamed him “the Glove” – told the New York Times he’ll wear classic boxing attire, a red silk robe and red silk shorts, and will enter the ring to the strains of “I will survive.” The fight night is expected to raise about a million dollars – enough for about 40,000 surgeries plus equipment, screenings and doctor training in poverty-stricken areas worldwide. “If I’m successful in the bout with Evander, then my next bout is going to be with Harry [Reid,]” Romney told the Times. (The Democratic Majority Leader was a boxer before he became a politician.) However, in tonight’s bout, “I expect to be beaten but unbowed,” Romney vowed.
Mitt Romney, left, and Evander Holyfield, right, face each other during an official weigh-in on May 14, 2015, in Holladay, Utah. Rick Bowmer/AP Photo
Grace Autosport becomes first all-female team in IndyCar history
Katherine Legge got her next Indianapolis 500 ride and a platform to perhaps change racing. Grace Autosport, the first all-female team in IndyCar history, announced today its formation and intention to compete in the 2016 Indianapolis 500 with two-time entrant Legge as driver. Team principal Beth Paretta, a former motorsports director at SRT Motorsports/Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, said the team intends to “encourage a new generation of women to pursue careers in STEM (science/technology/engineering/math),” but added in a release, “Having said that, we are here to win and our goal is within ten years to make sure a woman’s face will grace the Borg-Warner trophy.”
Katherine Legge at Indy 500 qualification in 2012. (USA TODAY Sports)
Why Everton midfielder Muhamed Besic started supporting homeless charities
Everton FC midfielder Muhamed Besic has recalled how a trip to a shelter inspired him to start supporting homeless charities. The 22-year-old visited a centre near Tuzla, Bosnia two years ago and the distressing scenes he witnessed that day made an impact. Besic became an ambassador for Emmaus-MSF, the Bosnian arm of the international charity which aims to tackle poverty and homelessness, and last year gave a reported 5,000 Euros to the Bosnia Homeless Team so they could pay for travel and expenses for the World Cup in Chile. Now, the Blues favourite is backing the work Everton in the Community as they deliver training programmes designed by the Homeless FA (HFA).
Everton’s Muhamed Besic during the Everton in the Community event at the Goals Soccer Centre