Sports Doing Good Newsletter, #208

March 27 – April 2, 2016

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

  1. Ken Burns Talks about Hero Jackie Robinson and His Latest Film (Video)
  2. Supergirl Naomi Kutin is Breaking Cultural Barriers One World Record at a Time
  3. Special Olympics brings Tampa athlete out of his shell
  4. A mission more important than basketball – A personal essay from Lance Allred, the first legally deaf player in NBA history.
  5. Cricket legend Rahul Dravid inspires Indian youth with surprise visit in Mumbai slums
  6. MLS unveil new ‘Don’t Cross the Line’ campaign
  7. LA Galaxy launch Protect the Pitch initiative
  8. Cup Stacking: A Sport Whose Growth Runneth Over
  9. Banned from the ring, bearded Sikh boxer fights religious discrimination
  10. The Leicester City miracle, and the 10 unlikeliest champions

Putting kids on the path to success: on and off the court
Annika Sörenstam: Letter to My Daughter
Fourth season of Gazprom’s Football for Friendship international children’s project announced
Amid the hatred, sport becomes more vital than ever

As the name suggests, Sports Doing Good highlights activities that are sport-related. In addition to the “traditional” team sports, we have included everything from solo efforts such as personal fitness to more “mental” sports, e.g. chess. There are sometimes debates over what is and is not considered a sport. How about cheerleading? Or the growing area of e-sports? When it comes to this newsletter, we aim to be more inclusive than exclusive.

This week we feature a story about one of those not-easy-to-define sports/activities, i.e. cup stacking. That’s right, we said cup stacking.J  Whether you think it is a sport or not, it certainly attracts competitors, fans, a business making “equipment”, an organization that oversees the activity, and some superstar competitors. We love the story featured in the New York Times and strongly encourage you to not only read the story, but stack some cups as well!!

The other stories we are happy to feature this week include: Ken Burns discussing his documentary of American hero, Jackie Robinson; “supergirl” Naomi Kutin, a young powerlifting champion; the impact that the Special Olympics has had on a young soccer player Thomas Shervington; a wonderful personal essay from Lance Allred, the first legally deaf player in NBA history; cricket legend Rahul Dravid inspiring, and being inspired by, Indian youth during a surprise visit in Mumbai; Major League Soccer’s great “Don’t Cross the Line” campaign; the LA Galaxy, of MLS, and its launch of Protect the Pitch, a club-wide environmental sustainability initiative; a Sikh boxer fighting for his rights and those of others seeking fair treatment; and a look at the “miracle” team from Leicester City in England’s Premier League, giving underdogs around the world hope that they too can make history.

Finally, we want to remind you that this week we have the third annual International Day of Sport for Development and Peace 2016. This special day, but year-long effort, is dedicated to sport and development and its positive impact around the world. So many individuals, groups, and organizations who have been featured in Sports Doing Good are once again championing the idea of sport and social change. We encourage you to visit the site of our friends at Sport and Dev,, to learn about and to promote what you will be doing on Wednesday. To help you get started, we suggest reading the article by two leaders in the area, Eli Wolff and Mary Hums, which speaks to the role and responsibility of sport making the world a better place.

Please continue to send along your stories. You are both our audience and our best source of stories. Our Twitter handle is @sportsdoinggood, and you can find us at

Finally, if you think others would like to receive the newsletter, please feel free to forward it on or have them contact us directly at (If you do not want to receive the newsletter anymore you can use the Unsubscribe button at the end of the email)

So enjoy. And have a good week.

Ken Burns Talks about Hero Jackie Robinson and His Latest Film (Video)
History remembers Jackie Robinson mostly as a myth, not a man. He was the humble ballplayer Brooklyn Dodgers owner Branch Rickey used to break baseball’s color barrier, the secular saint who turned the other cheek when confronted with racism. White America has preserved this gleaming image of the icon, but the real Jackie Robinson was far angrier than history remembers, and he continued fighting fiercely for African-American rights long after his playing career came to an end. This is the Robinson who filmmaker Ken Burns—along with daughter Sarah and son-in-law David McMahon—examines in his latest documentary, Jackie Robinson, which airs April 11 and 12 on PBS. Some myths need to be dispelled, especially in the case of a complicated figure like Robinson, whose work as an activist is just as important now as it was 50 years ago. Interviewing everyone from Robinson’s wife, Rachel, to President Barack Obama and the first lady, the Civil War and Baseball director does just that as he explores the misunderstood life of one of America’s greatest civil rights pioneers.
(Video,  Caption: JACKIE ROBINSON premieres Monday-Tuesday, April 11-12, 2016, 9:00-11:00 p.m. ET on PBS.

Supergirl Naomi Kutin is Breaking Cultural Barriers One World Record at a Time
At just 14 years old, Naomi Kutin has already established herself in the world of powerlifting garnering her first world record at the tender age of nine. While powerlifting may not seem the typical sport of choice for a young girl, Naomi has grown up with it. Naomi’s father is an accomplished powerlifter himself and now, after watching Naomi’s success, her younger brother Ari has also taken up the sport, making it a family affair. Being an Orthodox Jew, Naomi sometimes encounters difficulties with her training and competition, as she can only eat certain foods and cannot travel or compete on Shabbat. Yet, despite these cultural barriers, Naomi has become known as arguably one of the strongest girl’s in the world and gained the nickname ‘Supergirl.’ Do not be fooled by her bright smile and petite stature, Naomi can lift nearly three-times her weight and is a force to be reckoned with in her sport of powerlifting.

Supergirl is a feature length documentary that tells the remarkable coming of age story of Naomi “Supergirl” Kutin, a modern Orthodox Jewish girl and world record holding powerlifter.

Special Olympics brings Tampa athlete out of his shell
Thomas Shervington can see the entire field when he plays goalie. He keeps an eye on all his teammates and shouts out to them as soon as he sees a potential attack. He yells things like, “concentrate,” “they’re coming” and “pull back.” He constantly points and coaches from the net. “I give advice to my players about what’s going on,” Thomas says. “I like playing goalie because I can stop shots from the other team.” Watching the 18-year-old and interacting with him you would never know just six years ago he was “uncommunicative.” His mom, Buffie Shervington, says now “you can’t stop him.” She partially credits Special Olympics for his transformation. Doctors diagnosed her son with autism when he was two and a half years old. News Channel 8 caught up with him this weekend on the soccer field at the Special Olympics Florida event. “Special Olympics helps me talk to different people, play different sports and learn from them,” Thomas says. “Basically I have fun.”

A mission more important than basketball – A personal essay from Lance Allred, the first legally deaf player in NBA history.
I was a basketball player once. But I am more than that now. I was always more than that. Basketball would not be my biggest stage. It was only an experience I needed, carving this skeleton key that is my life, which now opens any door for me to share my story. And this next door that I am opening will change the face of education as we know it. This is a bigger stage than I ever imagined, far bigger than any NBA court. I am now able to empower children from every walk of life by giving them a level playing field to acquire education and solving the greatest issue facing our disenfranchised youth: access. Recently, Sugata Mitra, an economist and education scientist in India, made a plea during a TED Talk, asking for a school in the cloud for all the children in India. More than two million viewers have watched this talk. Mr. Mitra, I am answering your call, for you and every academic institution in the world.

Allred works with children at a D-League basketball clinic in 2008. (NBAE/Getty Images)

Cricket legend Rahul Dravid inspires Indian youth with surprise visit in Mumbai slums
Indian Cricket legend Rahul Dravid has taken time to spend with youngsters from the Laureus-supported Magic Bus project in the Mankhurd slum in Mumbai. Dravid, who is the second highest run-maker in Test cricket history, surprised the young cricket fans as they prepared for an educational sports session. The former India captain took part in informal coaching before participating in a game of street cricket, offering hints and tips while inspiring the sports-mad youngsters. Dravid also spent time with Nitin Bawaskar, the young man leading the session who is a role model for other youths in the community. He learnt with Magic Bus how to capture attention and deliver a message through fun and engaging sporting activities, especially in a community crazy about cricket. Since its inception, Laureus Sport for Good has supported over 150 projects worldwide which use sport to tackle violence, discrimination and disadvantage. Laureus has supported Magic Bus across India for 15 years to educate young people from disadvantaged communities using a mentorship and sport-for-development based approach.

“Spending time with people like Nitin really brings the power of sport to life. The work being done at projects like Magic Bus is changing young people’s lives for the better. People call me their hero for what I achieved in my Test cricket career but for me, Nitin and other inspirational leaders are the real heroes of sport.”

MLS unveil new ‘Don’t Cross the Line’ campaign
Major League Soccer’s annual Don’t Cross the Line campaign strives to eliminate discrimination across the league and in communities. Its project for 2016 features players across the league pledging to “stand as one” in the fight against racism, sexism, homophobia and any other form of discrimination. The campaign is headed by MLS WORKS, which is the league’s community outreach initiative, and it will run throughout the year and feature on the campaign’s website. This year, MLS is teaming with RISE, a non-profit organization committed to eliminating discrimination, bias, prejudice and harassment. The goal is not only to keep any discrimination out of the sport and its stadiums, but to encourage everyone involved to take a stand against it in their communities as well. “Through our Don’t Cross the Line initiative we strive to reinforce our core value of diversity and foster an inclusive environment that is free of discrimination and harassment for our players, fans, partners and employees,” said JoAnn Neale, Chief Administrative Officer of Major League Soccer.

LA Galaxy launch Protect the Pitch initiative
The LA Galaxy announced today the launch of Protect the Pitch, a club-wide environmental sustainability initiative. Protect the Pitch will focus on reducing the environmental impact of LA Galaxy games and practices at StubHub Center, supporting environmental projects in our community, and inspiring fans to help create healthier, more sustainable communities. As part of Protect the Pitch, the Galaxy will continue to implement various efforts designed to engage the community, save water, conserve energy, and reduce waste while involving and encouraging the Galaxy fan base to support these efforts. The LA Galaxy will focus on community involvement, energy efficiency, water conservation, waste and recycling, and transportation.

Cup Stacking: A Sport Whose Growth Runneth Over
Don Teel and Larry Goers, who are now co-owners of Speed Stacks, are also the co-directors of the sport’s best-known governing body, the World Sport Stacking Association, which they founded in 2001. The company said that it sold three million cup sets in the last five years and that the sport was now played in 56 countries and more than 27,000 American schools. The association hosts 150 to 175 tournaments per year. Stackers compete in three individual events: the 3-3-3, three stacks of three cups each; 3-6-3, three stacks of three, six and three cups; and the cycle, a sequence of three formations. There are also doubles events and relays. Cups must be stacked up and then taken down in a specific order, and they cannot wobble or fall off the mat. At most tournaments, the overall winners are crowned by adding the stackers’ fastest times in each of the three individual disciplines. Godinet’s company stopped producing cup sets years ago, but he said he was not upset that Speed Stacks developed his idea into a lucrative business. “I’m O.K. with that because this sport has transformed the lives of so many kids,” he said.

For his ninth birthday, Jonah Lamas, right, traveled with his family to the regional tournament. Credit Amanda Lucier for The New York Times

Banned from the ring, bearded Sikh boxer fights religious discrimination
In 1999, Pardeep Singh Nagra was the Ontario flyweight amateur boxing champion. He was the best in the province, lightning-fast on his feet, and on his way to nationals. But Nagra was told he wouldn’t be allowed to fight because he had a beard. Officials said his beard was against the rules and posed a safety hazard. But for Nagra, a follower of the Sikh faith, hair is an important part of his religious beliefs. “For me, as a member of the Sikh faith, our hair — our Kesh — is part of our articles of faith. And it was not something I was going to be willing to compromise arbitrarily.” Nagra says that after he refused to shave, it became a “huge struggle.” He went head-to-head with the Canadian and Ontario amateur boxing associations. After filing a human rights case against Boxing Ontario, he came to an agreement and was allowed to compete provincially. Today, Sikh boxers in Canada are allowed into the ring with beards. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case internationally — something Nagra continues to fight for.

Pardeep Singh Nagra, boxer and activist (on left) with Sook-Yin Lee and Vinay Virmani. (CBC/Kaj Hasselriis)

The Leicester City miracle, and the 10 unlikeliest champions
What makes Leicester’s feat even more impressive, of course, is that it comes in an era where the elite clubs of England are doing as much as possible to preserve the status quo. Amid the backdrop of this unlikely title (and subsequent trip to the Champions League), European power brokers are suggesting that the continent’s most popular clubs should be given an annual trip into the lucrative European competition, regardless of their placement in the league the previous year. Financial fair play attempted to prevent clubs from finding rich owners to fund exorbitant spending sprees, essentially grandfathering in the massive losses incurred by Chelsea and Manchester City during their cash-fueled rises earlier in the aughts. (City were fined £42 million, but it didn’t appear to stop them.) Even the new English academy setup is designed to reward and sustain teams who currently have productive youth setups. If Leicester win the title, it’ll be a glorious victory for fans of underdogs and unlikely heroes. Will they be the most unlikely champions in modern professional sport?

Jamie Vardy, who was signed out of non-league football, has been a revelation for Leicester City. AP Photo/Rui Vieira

Quick Links…

Our Website

More About Us
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.

Contact Information

Sarbjit “Sab” Singh