Sports Doing Good Newsletter, #211

April 17 – April 23, 2016

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

  1. Why the Twins play Prince’s ‘Let’s Go Crazy’ after home runs
  2. Power of Sport on show at Laureus Sport for Good Jam
  3. C.J. McCollum Won’t Stop Working, On And Off The Court
  4. Rise Above – The Incredible Story of Zion Shaver
  5. Along with Dick’s Sporting Goods, Tom Brady, Serena Williams combat youth sports ‘funding crisis’
  6. A Guard Out of Brooklyn Inspired Wonder and Fond Memories
  7. Angel ‘Tito’ Acosta Fights With The Weight Of Puerto Rico On His Back
  8. Get With the Program
  9. A Philosophical Journey Leads Back to Basketball
  10. Who is BVB’s star-spangled talent Christian Pulisic?

Coach Across America – Finding Common Ground to Build Relationships with Youth
Embracing the Process
Back to Where It Started
Why I Love Playing Abroad
Football and foreign languages combine to take over Glasgow

While we are focused on sports at Sports Doing Good, we understand fully the overlap there is with other parts of life, including music, art, movies, science, medicine, etc. In sports and in these other areas, the world is blessed to have individuals whose brilliance is not isolated, rather it is shared with the world in ways simple and extravagant.

This past week musician, singer, actor, songwriter, overall Renaissance man Prince Rogers Nelson (“Prince”) passed away. At only 57 years old, the world was shocked and saddened. In some ways, angry as well. I felt this anger. We deserved more time with this legend. Maybe I was being selfish. As a sports fan, I am thrilled by great performances. I am truly appreciative that individuals have worked so incredibly hard to put themselves in a position to achieve their dreams. And in many situations, we get to be witness to those achievements (one of our goals at Sports Doing Good is to help publicize these actions). As an artist, Prince gave innumerable great performances. I feel that we should have just had more time to acknowledge those performances and their creator. However, Prince sounded like he was not the type of person who needed or wanted such acknowledgement.

There has been a lot said about this artist in the last few days and more will be said in the near future. At Sports Doing Good, we want to extend our thanks to Prince for all of his amazing work, for being part of the “soundtrack to our life” and for being a pretty good athlete and sports fan himself. One of the stories that we feature this week includes how one of his local teams, the Minnesota Twins, pay tribute to the legendary performer. And their sports brothers and sisters in the Minneapolis area and around the country also made their love for Prince known. The reasons are plentiful, no doubt.

We would like to finish with a wonderful sentiment that was expressed via Twitter and showcased on Facebook. It is both poignant and on point and something you may associate with a favorite athlete as well. “Thinking about how we mourn artists we’ve never met. We don’t cry because we knew them, we cry because they helped us know ourselves.”

The other wonderful stories we get to feature this week include: a great event put on the folks at Laureus; the NBA’s Most Improved Player C.J. McCollum; the incredible story of young wrestler Zion Shaver; a meaningful donation by and partnership with Dick’s Sporting Goods as it looks to keep more and more kids playing sports; the life and impact of basketball star Dwayne “Pearl” Washington, who passed away this week; a look at emerging boxer Angel Acosta; a first-person essay by NBA player Jerian Grant on the merits of women’s basketball at all levels; an educator and former basketball player who takes a philosophical look at the influence of basketball, especially for African-American men; and the breakthrough of American teenager Christian Pulisic in the top-level football league in German, the Bundesliga.

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

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So enjoy. And have a good week.

Why the Twins play Prince’s ‘Let’s Go Crazy’ after home runs
Prince wasn’t the biggest baseball fan around. He was way more into basketball. But Prince’s music is at least a big part of the baseball experience for Twins fans. After a majority of the homers hit by Twins players, Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy” plays throughout Target Field. Fans love it, because they’re from Minnesota so they’re required to love both Prince and Twins homers. That particular pairing has been a tradition since 2010 when Target Field opened. And it wasn’t necessarily about picking a home-run song. It was about figuring out a way to put more Prince in the baseball product. “When we moved to Target Field,” Dustin Morse, the Twins’ senior director of communications told Yahoo Sports, “it was a way of rebranding. How do we incorporate Prince? What about if we did this after we hit a home run?” There are a handful of Twins employees who work specifically on the in-game entertainment. But you know how it is with music: Everybody has an opinion and very rarely do people agree. Except in this case. Everybody thought it was perfect. That’s the power of Prince.–let-s-go-crazy–after-home-runs-200918193.html

Power of Sport on show at Laureus Sport for Good Jam
As he watched Raul and Carles Puyol, era-defining adversaries for Real Madrid and Barcelona, playing football literally hand-in-hand, Jens Lehmann could not keep the smile from his face. The former Arsenal and Germany goalkeeper was the patron of this particular event at the Laureus Sport for Good Jam in a unique venue called The Base, in Berlin. On the eve of the Laureus World Sport Awards in the German capital, this visit to the Wedding district of the city allowed some of the sporting legends who form the Laureus Academy – the voting panel for these awards – to promote its wider message: Sport for Good. Kids from the neighbourhood, mostly from immigrant families, often low-income, have opportunities to pick up and participate in sport that would otherwise be unavailable to them. On a skateboard ramp, in a boxing ring and on the football pitch they played – sometimes with the most unlikely team-mates. “Barcelona and Real Madrid holding hands – that was nice,” said Lehmann. Other players included some of the members of Kicking Girls, the project of which Lehmann is patron. It brings together girls from this community and provides skills not just in football, but in life. Its success has led to its export to over 100 centres across Germany and it has a characteristically committed advocate in Lehmann.

C.J. McCollum Won’t Stop Working, On and Off the Court
McCollum, who also hosts a radio show and writes for The Players’ Tribune, has plenty he wants to accomplish aside from hoops. He’s particularly interested in helping provide writing opportunities for Oregon youth, and earlier this year developed a journalism mentorship program, CJ’s Press Pass, in partnership with a local high school. “I am trying to give back what I can, when I can,” McCollum says. “I have to take advantage of the platform.” He has also purchased 40 tickets per game for local youth organizations like the Boys and Girls Club, SMART (Start Making A Reader Today) and Friends of the Children, so they can join “CJ.’s Crew” and attend home games. Few people have been around the NBA game more than Earl Watson, a former teammate of McCollum’s in Portland who is currently the Phoenix Suns’ interim head coach. “C.J. has always had to prove himself,” Watson tells HuffPost. “He is the perfect role model of resilience.” He added: “You must know he will never stop.”

“I am trying to give back what I can, when I can,” McCollum says. “I have to take advantage of the platform.” Associated Press

Rise Above – The Incredible Story of Zion Shaver
Shaver was born in Columbus, Ohio, in 1997 — without legs. He had caudal regression syndrome, a condition that affects the development of the lower half of the body. He was given up for adoption as a baby, moving from foster home to foster home, from school to school, and he doesn’t like to say much more about his childhood than that. What brings an enormous smile to his face, though, is what’s been the steadying force in his life: wrestling. Shaver had begun wrestling as a 2-year-old and kept at it, even as he ping-ponged from one temporary living situation to another. Fast-forward to what was a whirlwind senior season at Massillon Washington High School in northeast Ohio. As he put together a triumphant 33-15 final year at Massillon, his adoption paperwork finally went through with his mom, Kimberly Hawkins. Hawkins, a longtime foster care provider in Ohio, met Shaver about two years ago and felt compelled to give him a home. In February, the adoption became official, just as Shaver prepared for a postseason push in the sport he loves. “Wrestling has changed my life to the point where when I come to an obstacle in my life,” Shaver said, “I instantly figure out a way to get past it and move on.”

Along with Dick’s Sporting Goods, Tom Brady, Serena Williams combat youth sports ‘funding crisis’
The event was hosted by Dick’s Sporting Goods Foundation, which has committed $25 million to funding youth sports programs since 2014. Dick’s Sporting Goods (DKS) CEO Ed Stack announced Wednesday that the foundation will put another $25 million toward the effort. Dick’s is matching donations made to youth sports programs on, which allows coaches to crowdfund the money needed to keep their teams going. Scott Durham, the head football coach at Andrews High School in South Carolina, currently has a bid asking for $1,385 to buy knee pads and chin straps. Andrews has about 600 students living in an impoverished rural town where Durham said it’s difficult for booster clubs to raise money for sports, but he’s determined to get his players the safety gear they need. “I am not putting a child on the field in 15 to 20-year-old shoulder pads,” he told CNNMoney. “It’s not a cheap thing to do, but it’s the right thing to do.” Other fundraisers are for a playscape and gym equipment for a K-8 school in Florida, and for soccer balls at an impoverished high school in Queens, N.Y. Ramiro Castellanos, a special education teacher who helped form the first soccer team at Queens High School Complex, vouched for the importance of physical activity in a student’s life. “You’d be surprised how these kids act a certain way in the classroom, but when they’re on the field doing something they’re passionate about, something else wakes up inside of them,” Castellanos said.

A Guard Out of Brooklyn Inspired Wonder and Fond Memories
“He did things that nobody could understand, but yet everyone enjoyed,” said Anderson, who played in college at St. Bonaventure. “He’s out on the court just flat-out having fun, and making everyone else have fun as well.” Washington was important on other levels, too. His decision to attend Syracuse announced to the college basketball world that the Big East had arrived and that it had the prestige and the muscle to attract the nation’s top high school stars. Boeheim once told me that Washington was the most important player he had ever recruited. “He still stands as that today,” Boeheim said Wednesday. “It was the start of the league, the start of Syracuse being a big-time program,” he added. “He was the No. 1 player in high school that year. His coming here just changed the face of our program, the face of the league.” Washington was the 13th player taken in the 1986 N.B.A. draft. Plagued by injuries and poor supporting casts, he played three N.B.A. seasons. While he left Syracuse early Washington returned to earn his degree and later returned a second time to begin work on a master’s degree.

Angel ‘Tito’ Acosta Fights with the Weight of Puerto Rico on His Back
To date, Acosta has a 12-0 professional record, knocking out every opponent along the way. And while his reputation has grown both at home and overseas with each victory tallied, Acosta hasn’t budged from the familiar streets of Barrio Obrero. It’s home to him. Where he grew up. Where he trained. Where he remains. So it was no surprise that when Puerto Rican film director Angel Manuel Soto traveled to the area in 2013, searching for a documentary subject, he was quickly pointed in the direction of the great “Tito,” the up-and-coming fighter who was forced to be the man of his family even in early adolescence. In Acosta’s journey, he saw the entire nation’s fight. Facing unfair and unfortunate circumstances, he has fought his way up and up and up. Acosta’s story, Soto says, is “the story of hope” of all of Puerto Rico. This week, umpteen months later, the documentary “El Púgil” premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival. It came out just days before Acosta’s biggest fight to date, giving the world a better sense of the battles this boxer has fought outside the ring and away from the gym, and just how motivated “Tito” is to work harder, climb higher and make a name for himself for the sake of those who have always supported him. One step and one jab at a time.

Get With the Program
The women’s team set the tone for the entire program. We shared everything. We shared practice time at the Joyce Center. We both got the same gear and the same respect from the school, from the top down. No one got treated differently. What we got, they got. If they had a game the next day, they’d be on the main court and we’d be in the practice gym. More important, we were all friends. Skylar Diggins, Jewell Loyd, Kayla McBride, Natalie Achonwa. They became some of my best friends. But they were also some of the nation’s best players — and stars on campus. They had more random fans coming up to them than we ever did. The first time I saw Skylar wasn’t even in person. Her picture was all over the front page of The Observer, our student newspaper. It was a story about a preseason game, and I remember thinking, Wow, this is on another level. Sometimes I would give the women’s players a hard time about being more recognizable on campus than we were. They’d laugh and rub it in our faces. But it was funny because it was true.

If you say women’s basketball is “boring,” I’m gonna stop you right there. (Jerian Grant)

A Philosophical Journey Leads Back to Basketball
Back at graduate school at Boston University, he came full circle with his dissertation, back to basketball, back to the courts that had shaped him, now a short trip from campus back to his old neighborhood. It occurred to him, as he read deeply in theories of religion, that there was something profoundly religious about what he and his friends had experienced playing basketball. The courts were sacred spaces, separating sacred time from profane, allowing them to enact rites of jubilation, transition or mourning. “The overall thesis,” Woodbine said, “is that on the one hand, African-American men are pushed toward basketball by poverty, by predominantly white institutions, by racism. But on the other hand, once they get on the basketball court itself, the experience of playing becomes a mode of resistance to their dehumanization. And this happens on the level of the religious consciousness.” In “Black Gods of the Asphalt,” Woodbine pays particular attention to urban street ball tournaments, which he attended regularly from 2010 to 2014, doing field research. The tournaments are often named for players who have been killed, and thus function like Yoruba rituals. “In Yoruba tradition,” Woodbine said, “there are perennial human problems — death, loss, disease — and there are things that are good in life: vitality, energy, relationships, children. I saw these tournaments were expressing the same idea. They were about death, loss, fighting, but the goal was to transform those things: death to vitality, a loss to grieve, to reconnect with that individual.”

Onaje X. O. Woodbine, a former Yale basketball player, at Phillips Academy, where he teaches philosophy and religious studies. Gretchen Ertl for The New York Times

Who is BVB’s star-spangled talent Christian Pulisic?
Sure enough, the US U-17 international was invited to train with the Dortmund first-team during the 2015/16 winter break. He impressed head coach Thomas Tuchel so much that he was promoted to the senior squad, for whom he made his Bundesliga debut as a 68th-minute substitute in the 2-0 win over FC Ingolstadt 04 on 30 January 2016. “I dreamed about these moments when I was younger, and yeah, of course I was a little bit nervous,” admitted the eighth-youngest player to appear in the Bundesliga, at the tender age of 17 years and 133 days. “When you get the ball, though, it all goes away and you’re just focused on trying to win the game.” Further cameos from the bench were rewarded with a starting berth in a 1-0 win at Leverkusen’s BayArena on Matchday 22, before he opened his Bundesliga account with an arrowed shot that flew into the corner of the HSV net on Matchday 30. Having also become the youngest player to play for the USA in a FIFA World Cup qualifier, the American’s emergence on the Bundesliga scene promises to be just a taster of things to come.’us-talent-christian-pulisic.jsp

Pulisic also became the youngest ever player to represent the USA in a World Cup qualifier when he came on as a substitute against Guatemala in March 2016

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