Sports Doing Good Newsletter, #186

Oct. 25 – Oct. 31, 2015

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

  1. Report: We Need Our Children to Play Again (from Up2Us founder)
  2. Reclaiming Lacrosse
  3. UN General Assembly Approves Olympic Truce for Rio 2016
  4. LeBron James And Michelle Obama Take Stage To Promote Education
  5. Stephon Marbury posted a beautiful ode to Flip Saunders on Instagram
  6. Jets’ Eric Decker and wife Jessie tackle bullying in schools
  7. Miracle on ice: 94-year-old hockey player dominates in the rink
  8. The Ball is in Your Court (by Serena Williams)
  9. Rugby World Cup: what good sports can teach the world about how to play fair
  10. The Mets, the Royals and Charlie Parker, Linked by Autumn in New York

It is good to be back after a 1-week break. As you can imagine, the “good” in sports did not take a break while we did. While we did not publish the newsletter, we were able to continue to post to Facebook and Twitter some great stories.

This week we are proud to feature another group of uplifting, fun, thought-provoking and inspiring stories. The first story has to do with a new report by one of our favorite people, Paul Caccamo from Up2Us. Paul’s leadership in the sports-based youth development space continues to change lives and his report is a wonderful instructional guide on how we can be part of the solution when it comes to providing more and better opportunities for our youth. Please download the report, review the recommendations, and start making it happen!

The other stories this week include: a look at how a young woman is helping her fellow Native American women recapture the joy of a game their people founded, lacrosse; a resolution by the UN reaffirming the power of sport to affect substantive and sustainable positive change around the world with a nod to next summer’s Olympic Games in Rio; an event bringing together two powerful and positive figures, First Lady Michelle Obama and NBA superstar LeBron James, in support of educational opportunities; an ode by a NBA star, and others, to a former coach and mentor who passed away this week; a couple’s battle to stomp out bullying in our schools and society based on their own life experiences; one gentleman’s never-ending love of sport and competition; an inspiring essay by tennis superstar Serena Williams about the need to encourage everyone, especially those previously excluded, to be real agents of change in society; lessons from the thrilling Rugby World Cup that emphasizes great and intense competition can include great respect and sportsmanship; and a wonderful look at the musical and sports connection by this year’s World Series combatants, the New York Mets and Kansas City Royals.

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So enjoy. And have a good week.

Report: We Need Our Children to Play Again (from Up2Us founder)
The report discusses flaws in current youth sports programs and provides 12 recommendations for integrating sports-based youth development (SBYD) into communities and youth sports programs across the U.S. SBYD is based on the premise that sports are a critical venue for supporting and encouraging the positive development of youth participants. Download the report here. “At Up2Us Sports, we’re leading the development, training, and integration of sports-based youth development in youth sports programs across the nation,” said Caccamo. “This report is a substantial starting point for programs, schools, and parents to review and consider integrating key components of SBYD into children’s lives specifically through their involvement in sports.” A few of the recommendations include: Increase diversity of youth sports; Train all coaches in SBYD; Reclaim places to play; and Accredit programs in SBYD.

Reclaiming Lacrosse
Years after the new Americans claimed lacrosse for themselves, both the history and the Native Americans who originated the game were pushed into the shadows. Houston-Brown says playing the sport has nourished the spirits and health of each player. “When I play lacrosse, I feel not only a sense of strength and healing but I also feel a connection to my identity as a Dakota woman, as an indigenous woman, and being part of a much bigger community,” she said. “I don’t get that feeling in a lot of other places.” Twin Cities Native Lacrosse teaches indigenous people of all ages and tribal nations to play. The group offers free lacrosse lessons and is open to all. At the end of practice every woman says her goodbye. Some head to a book signing by Ojibwe scholar Anton Treuer, while others connect with new players. This is a reminder that while they play for fun, they are also honoring their heritage. “In our communities, despite everything that we’re facing, and all of the barriers and all of the trauma,” Houston-Brown said, “you’re really seeing these pieces of reclaiming come back.”

Women with the Twin Cities Native Lacrosse group meet for practice at Corcoran Park in Minneapolis on Oct. 20, 2015.

UN General Assembly Approves Olympic Truce for Rio 2016
Recognizing the potential of sport as a valuable tool in the achievement of peace and development, the 70th Session of the United Nations General Assembly today adopted a resolution reaffirming the efficiency of sport in promoting dialogue and reconciliation in areas of conflict. The resolution entitled “Building a peaceful and better world through sport and the Olympic ideal” urges Member States to observe the Olympic Truce from the seventh day before the start of the XXXI Olympic Summer Games next August until the seventh day following the end of the XV Paralympic Summer Games next September — both to be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It also calls for cooperation among Member States, the United Nations system and the International Olympic and Paralympic Committees to maximize the potential of sport in contributing to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, and encourages the Olympic and Paralympic movements to work closely with national and international sports organizations on the use of sport to that end.

LeBron James and Michelle Obama Take Stage to Promote Education
Obama pointed out to the children and their parents that she and James were from humble beginnings. “We don’t come from places where families had a lot of money or a lot of resources,” she said. Obama then turned toward James, who wore a blue T-shirt with “We Are Family” – one of his foundation’s slogans – on the front and reminded the kids that he was once one of them. “LeBron is investing so much in you guys because he knows that you’re worth it,” she said. During the summer, James announced a partnership with the university to provide free four-year educations to city students who qualify. Obama praised James for those efforts and reminded the kids they are being given a unique opportunity. “It’s on you,” she said. “You’ve got college paid for. Are you going to do the work to get there?” The crowd erupted with a resounding “Yes.”

First lady Michelle Obama looks on as Cleveland Cavaliers’ star LeBron James speaks at the University of Akron on Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2015, in Akron, Ohio. James teamed up with Obama to celebrate the importance of secondary education. (Associated Press)

Stephon Marbury posted a beautiful ode to Flip Saunders on Instagram
Saunders’ passing over the weekend has brought out emotions all over the basketball world. And Marbury, now playing professionally in China, posted some thoughtful words on Instagram: “I thank you for giving me my foundation in how to play the professional way. I thank you for giving me unconditional love as if I was your son when I was so young. It was so needed as KG and I needed all of it to get where we are now. What an impact you’ve had on so many humans on earth. What a father you’ve been to your children as I can remember Ryan aka RyeKnow when he was a little boy. We will miss you as a piece of your children’s hearts have been taken but we will celebrate you forever. Thank God that love is the most powerful thing to give and receive. The love from all will be shared to help the healing process from the pain of your flesh not being present. I know you will RIP because you did all of what you did on earth in your lifeline. I say #FlipForever as we all grow from your teachings and messages. I LOVE YOU and I’ll miss you until we meet again. #LoveisLove P.S As for your amazing Wife Debbie and girls Mindy, Rachel, and Kimberly thank you for sharing your dad with all the people whose lives your dad touched. I can feel your pain because I know your love for your dad. I pray for peace in your heart.

Jets’ Eric Decker and wife Jessie tackle bullying in schools
That experience has driven Decker to partner with STOMP Out Bullying, along with his wife Jessie, to educate students, teachers and parents. The Jets launched an anti-bullying campaign by donating 1,000 prevention toolkits to area schools, and the Deckers wanted to be ambassadors to the program through their foundation. On Tuesday, the couple was scheduled to appear at Albert Leonard Middle School in New Rochelle, New York, to help announce their program. “Having kids, there’s just that realization even more to put a stop to all of these issues,” said Decker, the father of two young children. “I think it starts, obviously, at home with proper communication and just not holding things in. That sort of escalates some situations.” While Decker said he never was personally bullied while growing up, the issue hits home for his wife. The country music star experienced her share of uncomfortable moments as a self-described “military kid,” moving 12 times and always trying to fit in. Things were worst in Newnan, Georgia, from seventh through 11th grades. “I was tortured, pretty much, by these kids,” she said during a phone interview with the AP.

Photo: Associated Press

Miracle on ice: 94-year-old hockey player dominates in the rink
He started playing as a little kid and is still putting on pads and gloves at the unbelievable age of 94. “Just putting all the equipment on is a miracle in itself for a lot of us, and he does it three or four days a week,” one player said. Sertich plays in pick-up games, and every time he comes to the rink he is the oldest by a generation. Some of the guys could even be his great grandchildren. Yet he keeps right up with them, almost as if he’s oblivious to his age. Why not play something safer, like shuffleboard? “I’ve heard of it but I’ve never played it,” he said. But it really would be safer. A few months ago he took a hard hit and ended up with two fractured ribs and a punctured lung. At 94, doctors told him he would have to sit out at least six weeks. He was back in three. “I just love the game, I guess,” Sertich explained.

Mark Sertich straps on his ice skates. CBS News

The Ball is in Your Court (by Serena Williams)
Here’s one of the affirmations I gave myself when I was younger: “I will work in Africa and help kids and help people.” And I did. I opened a school in Kenya in 2008 and a second in 2010. Now, sometimes in Africa they send only the boys to school. So we had a strict rule that our schools had to be at least 40 percent girls. It was impossible to get 50-50 boys to girls, and we really had to fight for 60-40. But we got it. Equality is important. In the NFL, they have something called the Rooney rule. It says that teams have to interview minority candidates for senior jobs. It’s a rule that companies in Silicon Valley are starting to follow too, and that’s great. But we need to see more women and people of different colors and nationalities in tech. That’s the reason I wanted to do this issue with WIRED—I’m a black woman, and I am in a sport that wasn’t really meant for black people. And while tennis isn’t really about the future, Silicon Valley sure is. I want young people to look at the trailblazers we’ve assembled below and be inspired. I hope they eventually become trailblazers themselves. Together we can change the future.

Rugby World Cup: what good sports can teach the world about how to play fair
In 2009 the sport’s world governing body World Rugby (then the International Rugby Board) identified five core values as the “defining character-building characteristics of rugby”. These were integrity, passion, solidarity, discipline and respect. These core values have been embedded into training and coaching programmes in many unions across the world in an attempt to distinguish the game from others and to send a clear message about the character of the game. Reporting on rugby often refers to these values. A lack of “discipline” is often being blamed for a team’s performance, and “respect” for the referee by the players is central to the game. It is not often that you hear of a world-class referee such as Nigel Owens telling off 30 men as if they were school boys for having a fight as he did in a violent game between Leinster and the Parc y Scarlets. The reaction from the players? They all apologised, referred to him as “sir” and didn’t answer back – you’d be hard pressed to imagine top footballers reacting the same way.

South Africa’s Schalk Burger congratulates Japan’s Shinya Makabe after their surprise win over the Springboks. Reuters Staff

The Mets, the Royals and Charlie Parker, Linked by Autumn in New York
Parker’s affinity for baseball was not so much as a player but as a fan — of the Monarchs and, later, the Brooklyn Dodgers and their star second baseman Jackie Robinson. But if Louis Armstrong was the Babe Ruth of jazz, then Parker was its Willie Mays. Parker, perhaps the greatest improviser of any musical form, was born in 1920 in Kansas City, Kan., and as he grew up on the Missouri side of the border, he was captivated by the music scene there. He visited New York in 1939 and had an epiphany during a jam session in Harlem, Schaap said. That planted the seeds of bebop, a revolutionary musical form that led to modern jazz and is known for its improvisational fluidity. Parker served as an influence on another iconic saxophonist, John Coltrane, who himself has a prominent fan in the executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association, Tony Clark. Before Game 2 of this World Series, Clark spoke of the bond between music and baseball, saying, “It’s a very interesting connection.” Sandy Alderson, the Mets’ general manager, also said he enjoyed jazz — although he does not consider himself an expert, he said — and noted another tie between New York and Kansas City.

Duke Ellington, with bat, and members of his band played baseball in front of their segregated motel while touring Florida in 1955. Credit Charlotte Brooks/Library of Congress (LOOK Magazine Photograph Collection)

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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.

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