June 28 – July 4, 2015
Welcome to week one hundred seventy of the Sports Doing Good newsletter. This week’s 10 stories include:
- Boldin, Catchings, Cena, Lundqvist vie for Sports Humanitarian award
- Soccer in the Arctic – Thriving in a Barren Land
- Youth Baseball League Helps Chicago Police Make Impact on Violent Neighborhood
- NASCAR’s Confederate Flag Ban and the Explosion of Athlete Activism
- Krzyzewski, Kyvallos to receive Lapchick Award
- Right to Play: When Children Play, The World Wins
- Andy Murray prepares for post-tennis career with equity crowdfunding
- Kenya running champions to march for peace
- Heritage of the game is core to Pro Football Hall of Fame president’s message to NFL rookies
- Celebrating the Humanitarian in Sport
This week we are proud to include announcement of a great new initiative coming from the good folks at ESPN that we were lucky to be involved with. The Sports Humanitarian Awards will honor individuals and organizations doing exemplary work in the area of sports and social responsibility. Additionally, the event this month will celebrate four inaugural “Stuart Scott ENSPIRE Award” (ESPN + inspire) winners, recognized for taking risks and using innovation to help the disadvantaged.
While there will be one winner for each of the Sports Humanitarian Awards, we cannot emphasize enough that every individual and organization that applied was a winner. As one of the judges for the Awards, I was moved by the incredible work being done across the world of sports. While it may seem that we cannot be inspired more than we already are by all the stories we see doing the Sports Doing Good newsletter, well, we can and were further inspired. As we try to say explicitly and implicitly each week, there is so much good being done, so much fun being had, so much encouragement when it comes to trying our best. ESPN, as the “Worldwide Leader in Sports,” invited everyone to embrace the idea captured in that tagline, (Be a) Leader in Sports.” It was an honor to be a part of this effort and we are excited by what the future holds for the Awards and all the terrific individuals and organizations that will be involved.
Two stories that shine light on the Sports Humanitarian Awards are the first and last ones featured this week. In addition to the first story that highlights the awards and the various nominees, we have a piece from two leaders in the space, Eli Wolff and Mary Hums, which further speaks to this idea of humanitarianism in sport. Other stories we are proud to feature this week include: a soccer tournament in one of the most remote areas of the world that still can have a palpable impact on all involved; a baseball league in the Chicago area that shows that two disparate groups can work together; a powerful stand being taken by the leaders from the world of NASCAR; two legendary coaches and leaders being honored with an award named for another legendary coach and leader; a special look at the birth and impact of the amazing Right to Play and its equally amazing founder, Johann Olav Koss; tennis star Andy Murray working to ensure that he has a post-career life as exemplary as his current career; champion runners in Kenya coming together to fight against ethnic violence; and the important effort by leaders in pro football to share the sport’s powerful history to those young folks embarking on their journey as college or pro athletes.
Finally, we want to remind you that the good folks at Street Soccer USA will be holding their annual Times Square Cup on July 12 in NYC. Please try to support this effort by playing, being there in attendance, or donating to their efforts.
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So enjoy. And have a good week.
Boldin, Catchings, Cena, Lundqvist vie for Sports Humanitarian award
Anquan Boldin, Tamika Catchings, John Cena and Henrik Lundqvist are the athlete finalists for the inaugural Sports Humanitarian of the Year Awards, which will be held July 14 in Los Angeles. Team nominees include the Chicago Bulls, Portland Timbers, San Francisco 49ers and WWE. The awards show, presented by ESPN and PlayStation, will be broadcast on July 23 on ESPN (8:30 p.m. ET). Multiple sports-related leagues and/or governing bodies — including MLB, MLS, NBA, NFL, NHL, USOC, USTA, WNBA, WWE and the Women’s Sports Foundation — nominated athletes, teams and community members for the awards. The nominees are people and teams who are “using the power of sports to transform lives and uplift communities,” according to the announcement. There will also be four inaugural “Stuart Scott ENSPIRE Award” honorees, recognized “for taking risks and using innovation to help the disadvantaged,” ESPN said in a statement.
Soccer in the Arctic – Thriving in a Barren Land
Sports, like everything in the Arctic, demand constant, patient improvisation. Nunavut makes up about 20 percent of Canada’s land mass and is more than twice the size of Texas, but it has only an estimated 36,000 inhabitants, predominantly Inuit. There are no roads connecting the 25 communities in this vast territory. Every trip requires a snowmobile, a dogsled, an all-terrain vehicle, a boat or an airplane. Contingencies must be made for immense distance, mercurial weather, extravagant costs and geographic paradox. Soccer is best played on plush grass, but nearly all of Nunavut is tundra. So the sport has adapted. Soccer is played mostly inside on basketball courts. Iqaluit (pronounced i-HAL-oo-it or i-KAL-oo-it) is one of only three villages in the territory with artificial turf. The selection tournament for the Arctic Winter Games would be played on a synthetic surface fitted to the floor of a hockey rink.
Boxy houses in the colors of Easter eggs sitting on ridges overlooking Iqaluit contrasted with the brown of the tundra. Credit Ian Willms for The New York Times
Youth Baseball League Helps Chicago Police Make Impact on Violent Neighborhood
That’s where the Englewood Police Youth Baseball League comes in. And on this night, Officer Wormley has replaced her CPD hat with a baseball cap. She, along with a group of other Chicago cops now volunteer to coach baseball for 9- to 12-year-olds in a local park — and so far a hundred kids have signed on. The largely underutilized Hamilton Park now comes alive with the cheers and laughter of children being children; and they are doing it in a safe environment, focusing on “teamwork, accountability and respect,” says 11-year-old Kelly Bryant. And in a place where children often are caught in the middle of the battle between gangs and the cops, they are making new friends and having fun. That, according to District Commander Larry Watson, is the perfect “double play combination.”
Officer Angela Wormley is a volunteer coach for the Englewood Police Youth Baseball League. NBC News
NASCAR’s Confederate Flag Ban and the Explosion of Athlete Activism
This is not going to be an easy task. It’s simple enough for NASCAR to police itself in this regard, but the flag can be almost omnipresent in the infield at most of France’s racetracks and atop the vast flocks of recreational vehicles that travel from event to event, like elements of an army. But France promised that he was not going to relent. “If there’s more we can do to disassociate ourselves with that flag at our events than we’ve already done, then we want to do it,” he said. “We are going to be as aggressive as we can.” France’s position was reinforced last weekend by driver Dale Earnhardt Jr., the scion of a legendary racing family that traces its participation all the way back to the original circuit, when Ralph Earnhardt was one of Bill France Sr.’s most prominent drivers. “I think it’s offensive to an entire race,” Earnhardt said. “It belongs in the history books and that’s about it.”
Krzyzewski, Kyvallos to receive Lapchick Award
More honors for a couple of Coach Ks. Mike Krzyzewski, who has led Duke to five national championships and is the only Division I men’s coach with 1,000 victories, and women’s basketball pioneer Lucille Kyvallos of Queens College have won the Lapchick Character Award for 2015. The winners of the eighth annual award were announced Monday. The award is named for the Naismith Hall of Fame coach and is presented by a group that includes Joe Lapchick biographer and former player Gus Alfieri. Lapchick coached St. John’s and the New York Knicks. The awards will be presented Nov. 20 in New York. The recipients will be honored that night at the 2K Classic, benefiting the Wounded Warrior Project.
Mike Krzyzewski has coached his teams to 12 Final Fours, tied for the most in NCAA history. Grant Halverson / Getty Images North America
Right to Play: When Children Play, The World Wins
A few months before the 1994 Lillehammer Winter Olympics, Norwegian speed skater Johann Olav Koss travelled to the African country, Eritrea as an ambassador of Olympic Aid. As he watched a group of children playing in streets surrounded by burned out tanks and other remnants of war, he realized just how harsh their reality was. And yet, these children were laughing, smiling, playing. One boy stood out…”I met a group of boys, and one of them was very popular,” says Johann. “I asked him why. He said, ‘Can’t you see? I have long sleeves.'” The boy took off his shirt, rolled it up and used the sleeves to tie it into a ball. When he threw it on the ground, the kids started to play soccer. The game only ended when it was time for the boy with the long sleeves to go home. These children had lost their family and friends to violence and yet, surrounded by a legacy of war they only wanted one thing, the same thing every child wants: the opportunity to play. “It gave me a reason to skate,” says Johann. Thinking of the boys in Eritrea, Johann pledged his gold medal bonus to Olympic Aid and asked his fellow Norwegians to donate a few dollars for every gold medal won by Norway at the games. The country won 26 medals. And a few days later, Johann had raised more than $18 million.
Andy Murray prepares for post-tennis career with equity crowdfunding
By joining Seedrs, Murray boosts the platform’s profile at a time when the equity crowdfunding industry is taking off in the U.K. and U.S., with capital commitments growing more than 30% per quarter in each nation. Think of equity crowdfunding as VC for the masses. The average Seedrs user puts up anywhere from $1,500, and they’ve helped fund over 200 businesses. The move appears to makes sense for Murray for when his tennis career inevitably ends, but it’s an even bigger boon for Seedrs as it looks for publicity in the U.K. and abroad. Co-founder and CEO Jeff Lynn says that his company has found success at home, but mostly among people within the tech community. He wants Seedrs to branch out and expand its base of users, and he believes Murray can help. With a background as a lawyer, Lynn co-founded Seedrs in 2009. He trumpets the company as the “first in the world” to go by the books and get Financial Conduct Authority approval in the U.K., something Lynn said a lot of similar equity crowdfunding platforms didn’t do. Seedrs employs 32 full-time staff members since it got regulatory approval in 2012, and Lynn says with a laugh that his goal is to hire people “who are a lot smarter than I am.”
Photo: Carl Court/Getty Images
Kenya running champions to march for peace
A dozen top Kenyan athletes, including former World Marathon champions Paul Tergat and Tegla Loroupe, are to lead a 22-day “Walk for Peace” against ethnic violence. Cattle rustling and revenge killings between rival communities are common in Kenya’s remote and impoverished northern regions, an area awash with automatic weapons. The 836 kilometre (520 mile) walk is being organised by former Commonwealth marathon champion John Kelai, who was spurred to act by continued violence, marching in memory of three of his uncles killed in cattle raids when he was a teenager. “We are going to inspire and engage the young people from the divided communities and help to break the cycle of violence,” Kelai, the 2010 Commonwealth marathon gold medalist, said in a statement. Other athletes expected to take part include former marathon world record holder Wilson Kipsang, and Uganda’s reigning Olympic and world marathon champion, Stephen Kiprotich.
AFP PHOTO/Tony KARUMBA 2014-07-28
Heritage of the game is core to Pro Football Hall of Fame president’s message to NFL rookies
“There’s so much visibility and media and awareness that it’s almost disorienting for young men,” Baker said. “I’m speaking on that not only as a former commissioner for a pro football league (Baker was the commissioner of the Arena Football League from 1996 to 2008) and the president of the Hall of Fame, but I’m speaking as a father to a son who played seven years in the NFL. You need to understand the heritage and the values. That’s what the Hall of Fame is all about. It’s about those original eight teams that started on Sept. 17, 1920.” When I spoke with Baker last week for a story on the NFL strengthening its bond with Cleveland and Canton, the hall’s president and executive director often referenced that the NFL’s roots traced back to the American Professional Football Association’s 1920 launch in Canton. It’s a story he shares with the 250-plus NFL rookie draft picks who tour the Hall of Fame each year as part of the league’s Rookie Symposium. The AFC rookies, including the Browns’ 12-member draft class of 2015, visited the Hall of Fame on June 24, and their NFC counterparts followed on June 27.
The AFC’s rookies took a 3 ½-hour tour of the Pro Football Hall of Fame on June 24. Photo by PRO FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME
Celebrating the Humanitarian in Sport
The ESPN Humanitarian Awards are a game-changer, a critical statement to give voice, visibility, and vitality to the humanitarian in sport. This will create momentum and give increased permission and choice to engage meaningfully and deeply as citizen-athletes, citizen-coaches, citizen-administrators, citizen-teams and citizen-sport organizations. The ESPYS celebrates the best athletes on the pitch, the court and field. Now with the Humanitarian Awards, ESPN completes the celebration of athletes. We all recognize that athletes and sports teams have now become heroes for our children and icons in society. With that celebrity comes a new responsibility as citizen athletes. That platform now comes with an obligation to use the power of sport to better our society. Muhammad Ali said it best, “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.” Most of celebrity athletes can now buy hundreds of rooms — now it’s time to see service to community move to the next level.
Anquan Boldin, San Francisco 49ers wide receiver, is fighting for human rights in Africa. (Courtesy San Francisco 49ers)