Sports Doing Good Newsletter, #206

March 13 – March 19, 2016

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

  1. Off the Mound, A’s Sean Doolittle Brings Relief to the Ostracized
  2. New book ‘Kicking Off’ examines how women in sport are changing the game
  3. In a Tournament Known for Upsets, There Is Always Hope
  4. The Church of Cruyff, Forever Spreading the Football Gospel
  5. Vivek Ranadivé Wants To Make Basketball The World’s Greenest Sport
  6. Why Former Women Athletes Are More Engaged In Their Jobs
  7. Street Child Games on top of the world
  8. Book Launch – Re-Designing Youth Sport: Change the Game
  9. The Island of Kawhi: Leonard gives second wind to Spurs’ dynasty
  10. “Godfather of Greening” lauds NHL, Bettman

Israeli and Palestinian Youth and Coaches Come Together on PeacePlayers International Exchange Programme
A Trip Down March Madness Memory Lane
Path to the Pros: Play and enjoy a wide variety of sports

There are many areas in which sport has rightly taken a leading role in spurring change and improved levels of performance. Health and fitness and are surely two of those areas. Sport individuals, organizations, and companies have together and separately encouraged everyone in society to appreciate the health they have and to do their best in maintaining or even enhancing their standing.

In some areas, sport is not necessarily the pioneer but has shown it can be a valued partner who some times can take a leadership position. One of those areas involves the “green,” or conservation/environmental movement. Slow to capture country’s imagination, we have seen a terrific acceleration of efforts at almost every level of society, including corporate involvement. One of the top corporate citizens has been professional sports, with both the National Hockey League (NHL) and National Basketball Association (NBA) firmly at the forefront. We have two stories this week that capture their respective efforts.We also have two stories that feature new books, Kicking Off and Re-designing Youth Sport that are tackling issues in two other important areas of societal concern, i.e. women’s efforts in and out of sports, as well as the effectiveness of so many programs that aim to improve situations for those who are without much of what we take for granted. We encourage you to give both of these important books a look.

The other stories we are happy to feature include: the very impressive Sean Dootlittle of the Oakland A’s; the highlight of every NCAA tournament, i.e. (potential for) great upsets; the legend and legendary impact of footballer and coach Johan Cruyff; the lasting impact of sport on women who achieve leadership positions in their careers; the inspiring first annual Street Child Games; and NBA superstar, the super-focused, Kawhi Leonard of the San Antonio Spurs.

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So enjoy. And have a good week.

Off the Mound, A’s Sean Doolittle Brings Relief to the Ostracized
“When I was a kid, I remember my parents would say, ‘Baseball is what you do, but that’s not who you are’ — like that might be my job, but that’s not the end-all, be-all. I feel like I might even be able to use it to help other people or open some doors or explore more opportunities.” Many athletes donate time and money to charities. Doolittle is a strong supporter of Operation Finally Home, which builds houses for wounded veterans and their families. The difference with Doolittle and his girlfriend, Eireann Dolan, a writer and a host on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area, is their willingness to embrace publicly the kinds of causes rarely discussed, let alone endorsed, in the strongly right-leaning culture of the baseball clubhouse. Last spring, in response to an online backlash against a scheduled lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Pride Night at the Oakland Coliseum, Doolittle and Dolan raised $40,000 and bought about 900 tickets. Last fall, in response to the call by some governors to bar Syrian refugees, they planned and financed a Thanksgiving dinner for refugee families in Chicago, Dolan’s hometown. Twitter trolls, Dolan said, criticized them for the public nature of such causes.

Oakland Athletics pitcher Sean Doolittle and his girlfriend, Eireann Dolan, supported an L.G.B.T. Pride Night and a Thanksgiving dinner for Syrian refugees. Caitlin O’Hara for The New York Times

New book ‘Kicking Off’ examines how women in sport are changing the game
The book features exclusive interviews with many of the leading lights in women’s sport, including Billie Jean King, Nicole Cooke, Clare Connor, England’s record goalscorer Kelly Smith and ITV Rugby’s World Cup-winning pundit, Maggie Alphonsi. Arsenal ladies captain Smith recalls a childhood spent playing alongside boys because there were no girls’ teams around at the time. She was reluctantly let go by Garston Boys FC when opposition teams complained, out of jealousy and anger that Smith – the only girl – would not stop scoring. Alphonsi looks back on the emotional journey to realising her dreaming of winning the World Cup, which started at school and involved raising enough money for a flight to Australia, where she represented Great Britain’s Under 16 touch rugby squad at the World Cup in 1999. In between profiling some of sports biggest female stars, Kicking Off asks why so few elite sportswomen have the recognition their talent deserves, why the most successful female athletes earn a fraction of their male counterparts and why girls are still growing up believing that sport is ‘for boys’.

The ‘Kicking Off’ cover alongside some of the sporting greats who feature in the book.

In a Tournament Known for Upsets, There Is Always Hope
Few give Stony Brook, the champion of the America East Conference and the No. 13 seed in the East Region, much of a chance against fourth-seeded Kentucky, the Southeastern Conference champion, a winner of eight N.C.A.A. titles and the Seawolves’ opponent Thursday. But this is March. Crazy things happen. Maybe Stony Brook can be this year’s Florida Gulf Coast, Hampton or Norfolk State and score a major upset. Stony Brook’s players sounded less than convinced. “We know Kentucky is an elite program, but we’ve got faith in our team and our coaching staff,” forward Rayshaun McGrew said. “So we’re going to be doing what we’ve been doing all year and try to keep the game close.” Upsets and underdogs have made the tournament a national phenomenon. Invariably, fans with no obvious allegiances find themselves cheering on an unheralded team that challenges a top seed or an elite program.

Coach Steve Pikiell, center, and 13th-seeded Stony Brook have drawn fourth-seeded Kentucky. Credit Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

The Church of Cruyff, Forever Spreading the Football Gospel
As in life, so it is in football. There have been lots of brilliant football figures down the years, but none has been as significant as Johan Cruyff. As a player with Ajax, Barcelona and the Netherlands, he put himself in the pantheon along with greats such as Pele, Diego Maradona, Ferenc Puskas, Lionel Messi and Zinedine Zidane. As coach at Ajax and Barcelona, he built thrilling sides, nurtured a remarkable number of genius players and influenced many of the most important teams in the world. The all-conquering Spain and Barcelona of Xavi and Andres Iniesta, brilliant Bayern Munich and Germany of today, AC Milan of the late 1980s and many other memorable champions would have been unthinkable without Cruyff. Once radical and revolutionary, Cruyffian principles have become standard throughout the modern game. His blueprint for developing young players has been copied all over the world.

Vivek Ranadivé Wants to Make Basketball the World’s Greenest Sport
“This is the 21st-century communal fireplace,” he said. “Two thousand years ago, you were building these gigantic cathedrals, and that’s where people were influenced. Sports arenas are the-modern day cathedrals; that’s where you engage people.” He added that he believes part of being a good steward in the league means responsibly wielding the cultural and political clout it provides. “Owning a basketball team is a huge privilege, a huge honor,” Ranadivé said. “It’s incumbent upon you to be the standard-bearer and set the tone for what’s important in the world and how we can shape dialogue.” The league office has made environmental issues a priority in recent years, most publicly with the creation of its NBA Green initiative. But as of now, the U.S. Green Building Council has certified just seven NBA arenas as meeting an acceptable level of sustainability, most recently the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, according to Ranadivé isn’t hoping to stand out from the crowd of NBA owners with his solar powered arena. Instead, he hopes to inspire his fellow owners to be even more green than he is.

(Video,  Caption: View how the new arena and Downtown Commons will sit in the heart of Sacramento.

Why Former Women Athletes Are More Engaged In Their Jobs
A new report from Gallup-Purdue Research Index found that, among 400 women execs from five countries, 42% of former student-athletes who work full-time for an employer are engaged in their jobs versus 39% of non-student athletes. Women who played college sports were more likely to be engaged in their jobs (48%) than men who played (38%). In addition, a 2014 report from EY (formerly Ernst & Young) found that more than half (52%) of the 400 women surveyed played a sport at the university level, compared to 39% of women at other management levels. “If your employees are engaged, they are much more productive, they’re much more effective, they’re much more loyal, and it drops right to the bottom line,” says Beth Brooke-Marciniak, global vice chair, public policy at EY, who was one of the first Title IX basketball scholarship recipients at Purdue University. Her firm and the International Women’s Forum (IWF) launched the EY Women Athletes Business Network to help successful women athletes transition into business. Here are six important lessons women athletes learn.

[Photo: Flickr user Neon Tommy]

Street Child Games on top of the world
Nine teams of former street children from around the world have travelled to Rio to take part in the first-ever Street Child Games and raise awareness of street children’s rights. The teams’ arrival in Rio has been a big achievement in itself, with many of the teams working hard to secure passports and visas. More than a million tourists visit Sugarloaf every year, taking a cable car up to the top of Urca Hill and then a second cable car to the top of the mountain itself. But for these young people, who spent the morning sharing their experience of living on the street at a UN-style congress, the trip was particularly special. Naeem, from the Pakistan Squad, is spending his first time in Brazil for the Street Child Games and is treasuring every moment. He said: “I’m having the time of my life right now, it´s a great view, but in my heart I remember there are many children living on the street. “There are only four Pakistanis here, so while I´m enjoying myself I want them to have the same experience as well. ¨I never imagined I would come here. If someone had said to me ´you will visit Brazil´ I would have considered it a big lie. I´m thankful for this opportunity.”

Photo credit Gustavo Oliveira

Book Launch – Re-Designing Youth Sport: Change the Game
Re-Designing Youth Sport combines vivid examples and case studies of innovative sport programs who are re-designing their sport with a comprehensive toolkit for practitioners on how to change their game for bigger and better outcomes. It offers a fresh and exciting perspective on the seemingly intractable issues in sport. It presents a practical and empowering pathway for readers to apply the examples and tools to the outcomes that they aspire to achieve in their sport, such as increased fun and excitement, life-skills building, gender inclusion, increased sportspersonship, greater parity and avoidance of one-sided competition, and positive parental roles. The book also reveals how community leagues as well as national and international sport governing bodies are using re-design to accelerate player skill development, tactical awareness, and physical fitness.

The Island of Kawhi: Leonard gives second wind to Spurs’ dynasty
The Spurs unveiled their grand experiment in stages, finally unleashing the full Kawhi last season. Popovich transferred to Leonard plays that had been reserved for veteran wing Manu Ginóbili. He let him run after rebounds like the Warriors’ Draymond Green. He created small forward post-ups for the first time. In February, when the Spurs and Magic were tied with 13 seconds left, Popovich drew up a play in a timeout. Then he erased it and scribbled an iso for Leonard instead. Leonard pulled up from 19 feet and drilled the game-winner. His celebration was characteristically muted. No need to make a scene. Just as Engelland forecast, Leonard earned an invitation to the three-point contest at All-Star weekend, last month, though he turned it down. The only event he attended was Sunday’s game, in which he started for the Western Conference. “We got the win,” he declared afterward, perhaps the only person who cared—and certainly the only one who defended. “I try to keep things light with him,” Popovich says, “but I also let him know it is now his responsibility to bring it night after night like Kobe, like Michael, like Magic, like Larry, like Tim Duncan. He is in that category.”

Photo: Bart Young/Getty Images

“Godfather of Greening” lauds NHL, Bettman
“NHL Green is one of the most important environmental initiatives being implemented by any organization of any kind in the world,” Hershkowitz said. “The NHL has huge visibility. It’s what we call a non-traditional ally in the environmental movement.” Hershkowitz witnessed the League’s influence during a December visit to Paris, where NHL vice president for corporate social responsibility Omar Mitchell made presentations to packed rooms. Mitchell’s audience was fascinated with how the League employed a sustainability director who discussed the need to be more efficient in energy use, conserving water and promoting food donations. “The NHL’s message on environmentalism has global visibility and global influence,” Hershkowitz said. “It’s helping to change the market toward environmentally preferable products. It’s sending the message to the market that it wants smarter energy technologies, water conserving fixtures, healthy food and smart waste management.’

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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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