Sports Doing Good Newsletter, #199

Jan. 24 – Jan. 30, 2016

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

  1. In a First, the Rio Games Will Include a Team of Refugees
  2. WNBA Touting 20th Anniversary Season With ‘Watch Me Work’
  3. Inaugural Red Sox women’s fantasy camp is a huge hit
  4. When the Panthers have a tax question, they ask their punter
  5. Examining the future of virtual reality and the impact it will have on football
  6. Sneakers That Took Design to the Next Level
  7. Ninth Annual Jimmy V Week Raises Record $3.2 Million for Cancer Research
  8. Tottenham Hotspur and StubHub Launch Training Scheme for London’s Unemployed
  9. Super Bowl 50 to Develop “Green” Legacy for San Francisco Bay Area
  10. Cricket Team Of Maasai Warriors Goes To Bat For Women’s Rights


LA Galaxy launch Foundation Fridays community initiative (Beyond Sport)
Serving up a confidence-building tip for young athletes (NAYS)
UN signs up Messi to help beat poverty (Peace and Sport)

Sport has no doubt been an important part of the development of our society, locally and globally. This is true because from the very beginning, the world of sport has evolved. While in some situations it has evolved slower than we wanted, there are numerous examples of where sport has reflected progress we have made as a society, e.g. race, gender equity. Other times it has even been at or near the forefront of emerging issues, e.g. healthy living.

This week we have several stories tied into the theme of evolution and change, all for good. The first story we have is the announcement from the International Olympic Committee that it will support for the first time a group of refugee athletes who will march under the Olympic flag at the 2016 Summer Games in Rio. The IOC’s president said the organization wanted to draw the world’s attention to the issue of refugees, one that certainly took on added importance in 2015. Another story deals with the 20th anniversary season for the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA), a pioneering league in the world of professional sports. The WNBA has constantly battled to establish a place in the sporting landscape and with its slogan this year, “Watch Me Work,” it is inviting all of us to see them at their best, on and off the court. In another story, a different “first” took place and it captured the fun of being a baseball fan, particularly a fan of the Boston Red Sox. The team held its first fantasy baseball camp just for women and by all accounts, it was a huge success. The other stories that spoke to evolution and/or potential change involved a fascinating look at the world of virtual reality and football, the advances that have taken place with sports footwear, and the plans that have been made to make this the most environmentally-friendly Super Bowl ever.

The final group of stories include a discussion of how a few members of the NFL’s Carolina Panthers are serving as go-to resources for their teammates when it comes to financial issues; the amazing success fundraising that took place during Jimmy V Week last month; an interesting partnership in England between an EPL team and one of its vendors that is addressing the very real issue of unemployment in London; and finally, how the newly introduced sport of cricket in Kenya is helping men to challenge improper treatment of girls and women in that country.

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So enjoy. And have a good week.

In a First, the Rio Games Will Include a Team of Refugees
A small team of international refugee athletes will participate in the Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro this year, Thomas Bach, the president of the International Olympic Committee, confirmed on Thursday. “We want to draw the attention of the world to the problems of the refugees,” Bach told Reuters while touring a refugee camp in Athens. Five to 10 refugee athletes are expected to qualify, and they will compete under the Olympic flag, Bach said, echoing remarks he made in October at the United Nations. Athletes have marched behind the Olympic flag on a number of occasions, usually because of geopolitical conflict. In 1992, athletes from Yugoslavia competed under the Olympic banner because of sanctions against the country over the war in the Balkans. Athletes from the new nations of East Timor in 2000 and South Sudan in 2012 competed under the flag because their formal Olympic committees had not yet been formed. But there has never been a team of refugees at an Olympic Games.

Thomas Bach, the president of the International Olympic Committee, center, at a refugee camp in Athens on Thursday. Bach said between five to 10 refugee athletes would participate under the Olympic flag. Credit Aris Messinis/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

WNBA Touting 20th Anniversary Season With ‘Watch Me Work’
Today, the WNBA is officially starting its celebration of a 20-year history that started that day in the Garden. The league is launching a campaign called “Watch Me Work” that highlights the generational shift in that time span. Chiney Ogwumike, a 23-year-old forward for the Connecticut Sun, hasn’t known much of life without the WNBA. She said didn’t even realize how hard it was to build and maintain a professional women’s league until she attended rookie camp after being drafted No. 1 in 2014. Respected WNBA veteran Tamika Catchings, who knew Ogwumike through her older sister — L.A. Sparks player Nneka Ogwumike — took Chiney aside and explained. “We are the caretakers of a legacy,” Ogwumike said Catchings told her. And it has stuck. That’s part of why Pam El, the chief marketing officer at the WNBA, decided to go with a theme to celebrate the anniversary that included veterans like Weatherspoon and Catchings and their connection to new players like Ogwumike.

Inaugural Red Sox women’s fantasy camp is a huge hit
The sold-out camp included 48 women, average age 44, who journeyed from as far away as Victoria, Australia. Their arrival was joyous. Some women kissed the spongy outfield grass at JetBlue Park, others wept in the locker room when they saw Red Sox uniforms bearing their names. Siegal, founder of the “Baseball For All” program, had her pulse on the women’s feelings as she addressed them. “I know many of you have waited your whole life to be treated like a baseball player, and it really is exciting,” she said. “When I was with the A’s last year, they put up a sign and it said, ‘women’s locker room,’ except I was all alone. So it’s really phenomenal to be here with you.” The eyes of fantasy camper Susan Presby of Littleton, N.H., bulged out when she saw her idol, Petrocelli, seated in the cafeteria in uniform. “My grandmother only watched three things on TV,” said Presby. “Roller derby, wrestling, and the Red Sox.” Petrocelli, the shortstop for the Impossible Dream Red Sox of 1967, stood up and posed for a picture with her. “This is karma,” said Presby. “I was meant to be here. This is awesome.”

Players on the winning team celebrate moments after clinching the championship of the first Red Sox Women’s Fantasy Camp in Fort Myers, Fla.

When the Panthers have a tax question, they ask their punter
“I would say J.J. and I are the go-to corner for tax questions, investing questions and personal finance questions,” Nortman told after Carolina’s NFC title game rout of Arizona. “Any guys that want to know about it know where to go to.” Coming off a well-publicized series of rags-to-riches-to-rags stories, the NFL, its teams and the NFL Players Association have done their part to help players make smart decisions with their money. Morgan Stanley also is holding free seminars for NFL prospects and their parents this week at the Reese’s Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama. Nortman and Jansen are trying to help, too. “You never quite know what the end result is, so you just hope you steer them in the right direction,” Nortman said. “It’s good to have those conversations because guys make the league and really don’t think about [investing their money]. It’s good to have them think things through and understand the ‘why’ behind it.”

Brad Nortman, Panthers punter by day, financial whiz by night. John David Mercer

Examining the future of virtual reality and the impact it will have on football
Tim Tubito, in his 12th season as director of video for the New York Jets (a STRIVR client), says that three years ago, he read Infinite Reality: The Hidden Blueprint of our Lives, and reached out to Jeremy Bailenson, the book’s author. Bailenson, a co-founder of STRIVR, is a Stanford communications professor who has studied VR since the late 1990s, and he’s made a point of how quickly things are progressing. “I have seen more change in technology in the past two years than I have in the previous 18 combined,” says Bailenson. He and Tubito have had numerous conversations about the practical applications of VR, and Tubito’s had a front row seat to VR’s growth. Three years ago there were plenty of ideas, but no ways to execute those ideas. Now, Jets players regularly use VR. “When I started, I never thought tape and film would go away,” Tubito says. “Now we do almost everything on hard drive. Technology seems to be taking on a life of its own. I would never limit where I see (VR) going. It’s going to change how people prepare for games, how they look at games and eventually, how fans consume the game.”

Carson Palmer uses the virtual reality headset to review formations and scout-team tendencies from practice, and to tweak his own mechanics.

Sneakers That Took Design to the Next Level
Climbing out of your comfort zone is the only true way to succeed. When it comes to sneakers, specifically sneaker design, that statement reverberates loud and clear. Athletic footwear has been around for what feels like ages now. Over time, we’ve seen countless silhouettes surface, pushing the boundaries of design. As consumers, we’re better off for it. What we set out to accomplish here was to identify 10 sneakers that took design to the next level and break down why. Touching on various signature models, performance kicks and more, we explain each vital component that helped these kicks change the world of design.

The course of the Air Jordan line changed dramatically when Jordan Brand launched the XX8 model in 2013. At the time of its release this shoe boasted more technological advancements than any Air Jordan prior.

Ninth Annual Jimmy V Week Raises Record $3.2 Million for Cancer Research
ESPN’s 2015 Jimmy V Week for Cancer Research raised a record-setting $3.2 million for The V Foundation for Cancer Research – a million more than the 2014 previous fundraising record of $2.2 million. In nine years, Jimmy V Week has raised $13.7 million for cancer research. Jimmy V Week ran from Dec. 2-8, 2015 and introduced a new awareness campaign Your Fight is Our Fight – the emotionally-charged vignettes are from the view of real cancer patients and their support system showing the raw emotion that comes from a cancer diagnosis, going through radiation/chemo and finally being in remission. “This campaign was created to tell the powerful stories of the brave cancer fighters, survivors and supporters,” said Kevin Martinez, ESPN vice president of Corporate Citizenship. “It’s these stories that inspire us to keep fighting. We are incredibly thankful to everyone who has joined us in this fight.”

Tottenham Hotspur and StubHub Launch Training Scheme for London’s Unemployed
Over the course of the next two years, 100 individuals will be recruited to start the 12-week placement which will include a mixture of hands-on work experience at the Club’s community projects and classroom-based training led by Tottenham Hotspur Foundation’s employment and skills team. Classroom-based activity will focus on learning to write personal statements, building a CV and picking up best-practice interview techniques. Upon completion of the 12-week placement, participants will continue to receive one-to-one mentoring support from the Club until a suitable apprenticeship, training or employment opportunity has been secured. The Pre-Apprenticeship Scheme is just one of a number of employment programmes delivered by the Club as part of its commitment to supporting local residents into work. Through these initiatives, over 3,000 job opportunities have been created, 100 young people have been offered apprenticeships and more than 3,000 job seekers has been welcomes to award-winning jobs fairs held at White Hart Lane.

Super Bowl 50 to Develop “Green” Legacy for San Francisco Bay Area
During the week following the game there will be an intensive drive to collect and donate everything left over from Super Bowl events. Building material, décor, fabric, carpeting and sign materials will be donated to local organizations that can reuse, repurpose or remanufacture the material. This project keeps material out of local landfills and also turns this material into valuable items for resale or reuse. The NFL has incorporated environmental projects into the management of Super Bowl for more than 20 years. In addition, the venue for Super Bowl 50 is a LEED gold-certified building. When the gates of Levi’s® Stadium opened in August 2014, the stadium was the first United States professional football stadium to have achieved LEED Gold certification at opening. Inside the stadium, visitors can view a live dashboard display featuring current energy measurements, water and air monitors, and other dynamic green features as the building operates daily.

Cricket Team Of Maasai Warriors Goes To Bat For Women’s Rights
A group of young Maasai warriors in Kenya grew up hunting, but traded in their spears for something unexpected: cricket bats. Since they first learned cricket in 2007, the Maasai Cricket Warriors have become a semi-professional team and traveled all the way to London for a cricket championship. But their biggest challenge has not been on the cricket field, but at home in Kenya. The Warriors have used their fame and athletic success to promote women’s rights in their community. They have used their platform to campaign against female genital mutilation and substance abuse, promote conservation, and raise awareness for HIV/AIDS prevention. They are also the subjects of the documentary film Warriors, by the British filmmaker Barney Douglas. “In their society, men are dominant… [so] it’s partly the young men’s responsibility to stand up and say, ‘FGM is not right. It’s unacceptable. We want our young women to go to school,'” Douglas told NPR.

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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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