Sports Doing Good Newsletter, #169

June 21 – June 27, 2015

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

  1. Chargers safety Darrell Stuckey to donate game check to help fight human trafficking
  2. Former NFL player finds calling as writer, works on HBO’s ‘Ballers’
  3. Carolina Panther Charles Johnson Hosts 4th Annual Sports Academy & Community Weekend
  4. Hard-Hitting, and Open to All
  5. Formula E’s season-ending race a victory lap for the sport, creator
  6. The Mavericks’ Satnam Singh becomes NBA’s first Indian-born player
  7. 7’6″ HS Basketball Star Tacko Fall Would Rather Be Steve Jobs Than LeBron James
  8. Minister for Sport backs Premiership Rugby clubs’ work in community
  9. Converse to open permanent Boston recording studio
  10. The Football Life of a Special Needs Dad

An idea that drives much of sports is that of “potential.” We see individuals and teams with attributes that we feel put them in a position to succeed, maybe in the short term and definitely in the longer term. Even if they don’t do so well now, the hope that “potential” provides us is often enough to keep us engaged, and for the business of sports, to keep us paying to watch these players and teams in action. One of the stories this week features Tacko Fall, a young man we have highlighted before, who will be a freshman this fall at the University of Central Florida. In this video with Fall, you will meet a young man with tremendous potential in life. He is mature, well-spoken and aware of the good he can do in the future. The fact he is 7’6” tall and a highly recruited basketball player just adds to the fun we will have watching him “grow up.”

Another young athlete we have featured before makes a second appearance this week as well. He was among a group of aspiring pro basketball and hockey players who were hoping to be selected in their respective pro sports’ annual drafts this week. These young athletes have long dreamt of an opportunity to join their heroes in the world of pro sports. There is certainly similar desire and longing by their family, friends, and teammates to see them achieve their goals. The young athlete featured again, Satnam Singh, just happens to be the first player from India to be drafted into the NBA. His amazing story, first featured by media outlets 5 years ago, is that much more special today as he also got to see a dream come true.

In addition to these two stories about potential, we are happy to feature the following stories: an NFL player taking a very public stand against an issue not normally associated with pro sports; the post-career exploits of another former NFL player; and yes, another NFL-related story highlighting the ongoing community work being done by Carolina Panther Charles Johnson; a rugby team in New York that does not just promote inclusiveness, it exemplifies it; the early success of new sport Formula E; a rugby league in the U.K. recognized for its strong work in the community; the overlap of sport and music in the launch of a new music label; and the heartfelt piece from a sports TV producer and dad who is working to align his love for his son with his love of sports.

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So enjoy. And have a good week.

Chargers safety Darrell Stuckey to donate game check to help fight human trafficking
According to ENDCrowd, the numbers are staggering. The non-profit fights human trafficking says there are roughly 35.8 million people enslaved in the world which leads to over $150 billion in revenue. That’s why Stuckey supports Not For Sale, which was founded in 2007, and according to the SDUT, has helped “more than 10,000 vulnerable and exploited people on four continents.” “When you’re given a platform to do what you love,” Stuckey told the paper, “and you find out what you love to do inspires others, you get another opportunity to get the attention of others because of your affiliation. What are you going to do with it? Are you always going to give them sports, give them football, or will you let them truly get to know you?”

Former NFL player finds calling as writer, works on HBO’s ‘Ballers’
Many NFL players step away from the game involuntarily, and then are suddenly forced to figure out what to do with their lives. Rashard Mendenhall seems to have had it mapped out pretty well. Mendenhall, a former first-round pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers who also spent a year at running back with the Arizona Cardinals, retired suddenly last March after six NFL seasons. Like many of the surprising early retirements this year, Mendenhall just had enough of the game and walked away. Mendenhall seems to have found something else he enjoys in retirement. He has a writing career and already has a nice addition to his resume, writing for HBO’s new show on football, “Ballers,” which is produced by Stephen Levinson of “Entourage.”–works-on-hbo-s–ballers–162618203.html

Carolina Panther Charles Johnson Hosts 4th Annual Sports Academy & Community Weekend
The Charles Johnson Foundation hosted its 4th Annual Sports Academy & Community Weekend on June 19-20. The two-day event was free of charge for more than 1,000 local kids in Johnson’s hometown, Hawkinsville, GA. Johnson was joined by many of his friends in the NFL, including players across the league and members of the Carolina Panthers coaching staff. The weekend included football, basketball, dance, tennis and cheer clinics, as well as the presentation of two $20,000 college scholarships to one male and one female student-athlete from Hawkinsville High School. These were the seventh and eighth scholarships that Johnson has presented. The foundation will have eight scholarship recipients in college this fall: two freshmen, two sophomores, two juniors and two seniors ($160,000 in scholarships awarded to date). This year, the Hawkinsville city council surprised Johnson and presented him with the Key to the City along with a proclamation announcing June 20, 2015 at Charles Johnson Day. For more, please visit, and Open to All
For more than a decade, the Gotham Knights have done what American professional sports franchises seem to have failed at — fielding a team dedicated to inclusiveness. The team’s existence defies long-held stereotypes of gay men and provides a safe venue for gay athletes to be themselves and build community. Jeff Wilson, chairman of International Gay Rugby, which has 55 member clubs from 15 countries, said that is a significant reason clubs like Gotham are important, even in tolerant cities like New York. “By having teams that are gay and inclusive, they can change their local environment just by being who they are,” he said. The Knights are focused on winning a second Bingham Cup, an I.G.R. tournament that draws clubs from around the world. The event and its trophy are dedicated to Mark Bingham, who died in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks when United Airlines Flight 93 crashed into a Pennsylvania field after a cockpit struggle between passengers and the hijackers. Mr. Bingham had hoped to bring an inclusive rugby team to New York. Inspired, players formed the Gotham Knights.

Many of the Knights are not gay and some, like Clark Buden, joined the team unaware that many of the players are. Mr. Buden was unfazed by joining a team of majority gay players.

Formula E’s season-ending race a victory lap for the sport, creator
Meanwhile, Formula E is easy on polar bears and budgets, alike. Agag reckons the average operating cost of a team, once the series hits its stride, will be a cool $1 million. In a fossil fuel series, that barely covers a year’s worth of tires. “It’s not anymore a time where we want teams to spend a billion in the racing program,” Agag says. “We want to develop the technology, but also do something that makes sense.” They want to be green and save green along the way. “The way I look at it, if we can develop the technology in electric cars quicker, it’s going to leave more fossil fuel for us to play with in the other style of car,” says Franchitti, who nonetheless remains impressed with Formula E’s out-of-the-box success. “I think they’ve done a great job, for their first season, building their organization and their events. They’ve put on terrific racing.”

The Mavericks’ Satnam Singh becomes NBA’s first Indian-born player
BALBIR NEVER PUSHED THE GAME on Satnam. It just took. Over the next several months, puzzled villagers watched as Satnam spent hour after hour in that courtyard. The hoop and ball — merely odd at first — seemed to assume magical powers. The already tall boy shot up, dramatically, as if summoned skyward by the hoop. Just like that, he was as tall as his grandmother. Satnam’s hands grew so large that, to the villagers’ eyes, the basketball seemed to be mysteriously shrinking. They called him Chhotu — Punjabi for “little one.” The real magic, of course, lay not in mere objects but in the boy’s love of the game and the father’s love of the boy. Naturally, Satnam — who now looked almost as surreal in the seat of a tractor as Balbir — still helped with the family farm, but it was that magic that cordoned off time for him to practice. It was that magic that made the father pay for increasingly long and frequent trips throughout the Punjab region so the son could find other boys who played this exotic game and men who knew how to coach it.

At 14, Satnam Bhamara Singh dwarfed even the biggest NBA big men when they were his age. Five years later, Singh is a member of the Dallas Mavericks and the NBA’s first Indian-born player. John Loomis

7’6″ HS Basketball Star Tacko Fall Would Rather Be Steve Jobs Than LeBron James
He’s 7’6″ and 280 pounds, but basketball isn’t the only thing that defines him. Tacko Fall is one of the top centers in the class of 2015 and has signed on to play for the University of Central Florida Knights this fall. He hails from Senegal and came to the U.S. with the hope of furthering his basketball career and, more importantly, for the chance to chase his academic dreams. People look at Fall and are mesmerized by his size. What they don’t see is an individual who has been given a gift that he knows will take him so much further than basketball ever could. Watch the fascinating story of one of the most inspiring people you’ll ever come across.

UCF commit Tacko Fall more than just a 7-6 basketball player | NCAA Basketball | Sporting News

Minister for Sport backs Premiership Rugby clubs’ work in community
Celebrating their 10th year, the awards highlight the wide range of development work that the Premiership Rugby clubs deliver locally within their communities. From sports participation to education, health and social inclusion, Premiership Rugby’s Play and BreakThru campaigns use rugby to change lives and tackle some of England’s most challenging agendas. “Sport has a unique power to change lives for the better and it is a credit to the Premiership Rugby clubs when you see the great work they do in their local communities,” said Minister for Sport Tracey Crouch. “I congratulate all the winners and nominees and thank them for their efforts encouraging participation in rugby and promoting social inclusion. “It’s fantastic that these awards honour the unsung heroes who are so crucial to making community sport happen.”

Converse to open permanent Boston recording studio
“As a brand, Converse owes a lot to music,” says Jed Lewis, its global music marketing director. “A lot of our success today is from how music and culture have adopted our sneakers. We really wanted to start giving something back, some way to say thank you. “The idea for us was to build a state-of-the-art studio specifically for emerging artists to come in and record and have great expertise behind the boards,” Lewis adds. “And then be able to walk away owning all that music. Whatever they created was theirs. Converse didn’t own anything. That was the genesis of where this whole Converse Rubber Tracks came from.” The company especially wants to nurture new bands that perhaps haven’t recorded in a professional studio yet, or maybe don’t even own the best gear. In addition to guidance and feedback, Rubber Tracks will have instruments on hand for bands to use. Goals have ranged from establishing the bones of a song to walking out with a completed track to knocking out a full album’s worth. It’s up to the bands.

“As a brand, Converse owes a lot to music. A lot of our success today is from how music and culture have adopted our sneakers,” said Converse global music marketing director Jed Lewis.

The Football Life of a Special Needs Dad
Frederick has never been to a game. Since he resides on the lower end of the autism spectrum, he can be a real handful in situations outside of the home. Specifically, his sensory issues sometimes overwhelm him and he can become almost unmanageable in crowded places. But this year, we finally made it to the Linc. The Philadelphia Eagles host an annual Huddle Up for Autism event that benefits Children’s Hospital, and I took Frederick. He got to dance with cheerleaders, saw Swoop the mascot, and even attempted a field goal. But he kept asking when the game was going to start and I had to explain, over and over, that this was a carnival and there wasn’t going to be a game that day. He wouldn’t let it go. After an hour, he went into full meltdown mode, and we left. But the day wasn’t a total loss. He said he wanted to see a game. I plan on taking him to a real Eagles game this fall. And when I do, that will be our Super Bowl.

Digger and his sons: Julian (left) and Frederick. (Courtesy Digger O’Brien)

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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.
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