June 5 – June 11, 2016
Welcome to week two hundred and seventeen of the Sports Doing Good newsletter. This week’s 10 stories include:
- ESPN, Spike Lee pay tribute to Howard U’s soccer heroes with documentary
- Remembering my friend Muhammad Ali (by Dr. Richard Lapchick)
- Wegbreit, Marrs Team Up to Form Georgetown Adaptive Rowing Duo
- Euro 2016: Laureus legends predict and reflect on the power of sport
- Muhammad Ali Evolved From a Blockbuster Fighter to a Country’s Conscience
- Japanese Plant Seeds of Baseball Throughout Africa
- A Child’s Work Should Be Play
- Gordie Howe was the greatest hockey player of his generation
- NASCAR launches new campaign to promote diversity, end racism
- John Brooks blossoms for the USA, embraces his dual-nationality
Goal Click and Adidas Announce New Partnership and Global Photography Exhibition
Supreme Committee Open Football Pitch In Lekhnath
Lethal Lefty: Journey to greatness began with caring coaches
The Fourth Period (by Daniel Carcillo)
The Refugee Olympic squad is more than a dream team
While we are appropriately saddened by the passing of anyone, including sports stars, it does give us an occasion to celebrate their lives, including for those who may be too young to have seen the person in his/her prime. Accounts of great performances and iconic moments, on and off the field, are gifts for all of us. This week, we have the opportunity to spend a bit more time and space on the passing of Mr. Muhammad Ali, including a first person account of a powerful friendship by one of our heroes, Dr. Richard Lapchick. We also feature a story about an iconic figure who was so associated with greatness in his sport that the populace just called him Mr. Hockey. Gordie Howe is on the Mount Rushmore of hockey legends and we get to learn about his amazing playing career and who he was off the ice. Again, while we take the necessary time to mourn their passing, hopefully we spend a lot more time celebrating their lives and learning from the lessons they taught us.
The other stories we are happy to feature this week include: a recounting of the amazing soccer team from Howard University in the 1970s; the partnership between two Georgetown rowers competing in the National Championships; perspective shared by some of the recent great soccer legends on the power of sport; the slow but potentially fruitful emergence of baseball on the continent of Africa due to the efforts by the Japanese; an essay that speaks to the roles that children should have in the early part of their lives and how sport can help; the new campaign by the folks at NASCAR to promote diversity; and the blossoming of U.S. men’s soccer team member John Brooks.
Finally, we want to wish our good friends at sports-based youth development leader Up2Us best of luck with their annual gala this week. To learn more about it, please visit http://up2ussportsgala.com/lite-ui/#additionalInfo/page?number=1
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So enjoy. And have a good week.
ESPN, Spike Lee pay tribute to Howard U’s soccer heroes with documentary
As shown in Redemption Song, the Bison stayed determined to win back the trophy they felt had been unfairly snatched from them. Shortly after, in 1974, they inspired their entire campus with an undefeated season, marked by a blistering 19-0 record with 63 goals scored and just six allowed. Their stadium packed to capacity at every home game, filled with the rhythms of African drums, Howard’s teams both entertained the fans and demolished the opposition. It all culminated in a dramatic, quadruple-overtime national championship rematch at Busch Stadium with mighty St. Louis, who’d won nine of the 15 NCAA Division I men’s soccer titles contested up to that point. Phillips, himself a star goalkeeper from Trinidad & Tobago who faced off against the likes of Pele in the old NASL, was just 29 years old when he took the helm of the program. He would go on to earn his undergraduate’s degree–even taking some of the same classes as his players–during his coaching tenure, which set him on the path to a distinguished second career that continues today. “It allows the student-athletes of today to see what we can be like at Howard,” said HU athletic director Kery Davis of Redemption Song. (Naturally, both Howard’s men’s and women’s soccer teams attended the premiere.) “The soccer team at that time galvanized the university. It was a source of pride; everyone came out. The seats were filled.”
Remembering my friend Muhammad Ali (by Dr. Richard Lapchick)
I told Ali that he is one of two people in my lifetime who have been able to bring people together no matter the color of their skin, the faith they follow, their age, education or income. The other was Nelson Mandela. I told Ali that after I attended Mandela’s inauguration in May 1994, I accompanied him to a stadium in Johannesburg to watch a Zambia-South Africa soccer match. I told Mandela then about how I held him and Ali in such high esteem. President Mandela responded, “If I was in a crowded room with Ali, I would stop what I was doing and go to him. He is The Greatest.” In a world filled with fear and hatred, Troy Yocum, a veteran of the Iraq War, captured the power of Muhammad Ali that night when he made a toast. Yocum told us that when he was a teenager, his mother bought him a poster of Ali and explained to him how hard Ali worked to beat the odds to become the champ. Yocum’s mother, he said, hoped it would inspire her son to overcome some of the obstacles in his life. Each time he became discouraged, he stood by the poster and got a dose of Ali inspiration. Yocum was a soldier back from fighting in a distant war with his American brothers and sisters. He told us how looking at the poster in his tent reinforced his courage to go out and fight the next morning. To fight for peace.
“I told Ali that he is one of two people in my lifetime who have been able to bring people together no matter the color of their skin, the faith they follow, their age, education or income,” Richard Lapchick says. AP Photo/John Rooney
Wegbreit, Marrs Team Up to Form Georgetown Adaptive Rowing Duo
In a world filled with fear and hatred, Troy Yocum, a veteran of the Iraq War, captured the power of Muhammad Ali that night when he made a toast. Yocum told us that when he was a teenager, his mother bought him a poster of Ali and explained to him how hard Ali worked to beat the odds to become the champ. Yocum’s mother, he said, hoped it would inspire her son to overcome some of the obstacles in his life. Each time he became discouraged, he stood by the poster and got a dose of Ali inspiration. Yocum was a soldier back from fighting in a distant war with his American brothers and sisters. He told us how looking at the poster in his tent reinforced his courage to go out and fight the next morning. To fight for peace. “In rowing in an eight on a college team, 60-70 percent of the strength comes from your legs,” Wegbreit said. “But the way Kenny rows, just trunk and arms, it is probably one of the most hardcore things I’ve seen. Even the strongest athletes I know, if they are trying to pull that sort of thing without using their legs, all they would do is destroy their backs. That was something I wasn’t really expecting coming in.” As for racing together again, that is something both Wegbreit and Marrs are both interested in in the future. “I hope so,” said Marrs. “USRowing is looking at the results of the events that have already happened to see how smooth it goes. I think it went pretty well this time. The more that they get good results from things like this, the more they will be willing to expand. I want to represent Georgetown in as many races as I possibly can. So hopefully I can do more next year.”
Nathan Wegbreit (back) and Kenny Marrs represented Georgetown in the Inclusion Men’s 2x at the 2016 National Invitational Rowing Championships. The duo formed the only collegiate crew at the National Invitational Rowing Championships
Euro 2016: Laureus legends predict and reflect on the power of sport
As Laureus Academy Members and Ambassadors, these football superstars also reflected on what sport means to them and how it has changed their life and the lives of others. World Cup winner Marcel Desailly has visited many Laureus-supported projects and holds fond memories from his time at the Mathare Youth Sports Association in Kenya. “As a footballer myself, I have been overwhelmed by what I have seen,” he said. “It gave me so much pleasure to be able to kick a ball around with some of the kids from the project. This is a classic example of how sport can make a big difference to the lives of so many young people.” Laureus Ambassador Mesut Özil, who is playing in the Euro this year and visited the KICKFORMORE project in Germany, has also been inspired by how sport can change lives: “There are children here from several different cultural backgrounds, but it’s obvious that they are all united among nations and that it works out well. Sport, in my case football, has changed my life and influenced me positively.” Spanish football legend Carles Puyol also experienced first-hand the positive role that sport is playing in many young people’s lives. He visited the ‘Young Athletes’ project, based in Madrid, which has been developed in partnership with Special Olympics Spain and Laureus and focuses on instilling hope and developing young people with disabilities.
Muhammad Ali Evolved From a Blockbuster Fighter to a Country’s Conscience
In 1965, the photographer Neil Leifer captured Ali after he had knocked out Sonny Liston two minutes into their match — Ali stands over a laid-out Liston, roaring in conquest, making you think the man is playing a totally different sport. To stick with the “Jaws” comparison, he was the shark, the ocean and the boat captain, and if he was fighting, you were going to need a bigger bout — the biggest. It wasn’t just the matches that were blockbusters. It was Ali himself. He was the most important political-cultural figure to survive the deadly tumult of the 1960s and flourish in the 1970s. Ali licked Liston, Frazier, Foreman and dozens of other men. But he was at the center of American culture in part because he had turned boxing into a condition of the American self: Punch or be punched. With him, boxing wasn’t just a sport but a referendum on the state of the country. He had become larger than life, but without forgetting how much black lives matter. The legacy of his bodacious charisma was built to last well beyond his death on Friday. Ali was telegenic, funny, clever, blunt, fearless and, above all, politically principled. His beliefs transfixed and polarized the country: What would he say next; where would he take us? The short answer to that second question is “on a public journey.”
Seated from left, the Celtics great Bill Russell, Muhammad Ali, the retired Cleveland Browns running back Jim Brown and Lew Alcindor, then an undergraduate at U.C.L.A., at a meeting of top African-American athletes in June 1967. Credit Tony Tomsic/Getty Images
Japanese Plant Seeds of Baseball Throughout Africa
Volunteers are sent around the world by the Japan International Cooperation Agency, or JICA, which runs a program similar to the Peace Corps. They say baseball, which is one of Japan’s most-loved sports, is rewarding beyond the field. “Children can learn about team spirit and rules in sports, because there are rules in society,” said Megumi Chiba, a JICA volunteer coordinator in Dakar. “We can contribute also for their health. Especially in Dakar, schools don’t have sports grounds, so they don’t have a chance to practice sports at school.” Ogawa’s weeknight practices are held on a sandlot next to a military base in Dakar’s Ouakam neighborhood. Volunteers and local baseball associations are often on their own because there is little government support. There is no grass and no pitcher’s mound. Players wear jeans, sweatpants or shorts. A big tree sits in left-center field and aircraft engines hum beyond the concrete wall in deep center. The soccer game behind home plate sometimes spills over. “I’ve had to teach the basics very slowly,” said Ogawa, a former high school outfielder. “They’re very energetic, but it’s all new for them.” During one informal game, a tall boy in yellow rounded third base, pushed aside his slower teammate and scored ahead of him, an act that would be normal for taxis on Dakar’s hectic roads, but one that is against the rules in baseball. Along with smiles, there is discipline. The boys must retrieve their errant throws. Before each practice, they remove rocks and trash from the field.
The Japanese coach Ryoma Ogawa, center left, is teaching Senegalese children about baseball basics. Credit Jane Hahn for The New York Times
A Child’s Work Should Be Play
It’s only when children are empowered by the knowledge of their rights and have the support of their teachers and their parents that we’re able to mobilize communities around sensitive and important issues like child labour. And by fostering access to play-based educational programs, we are working to ensure that boys and girls have the chance to learn the skills necessary to reach their goals and contribute to their communities. Once we do, we’re able to build a stronger and healthier infrastructure that values the health, safety and education of boys and of girls, equally. We want to keep girls safe and in school. Gender equality issues in Ghana lead to girls dropping out of school. In some cases, young girls are forced to work in cocoa farms to help provide for their families. Other girls stay at home due to fear of being harassed at school. Our games help girls overcome gender-role stereotypes and empower them to lead. Along with community coaches and with key partnerships like Cocoa Life, we’re working to educate parents and caregivers on the importance of girls’ access to quality education. With the help of School Management Committees and Parent Teacher Associations, we’re raising awareness on the barriers that affect girls’ access to education. Our games promote inclusion and gender equality. They also educate boys on the important roles women and girls play in society. Active participation in our programs will improve girls’ lives by empowering them to stay in school and teaching them leadership skills and self-confidence.
A young girl learns about gender equality by playing and leading a game with her classmates. Photo: Courtesy of Cocoa Life
Gordie Howe was the greatest hockey player of his generation
Gordie Howe never took anything for granted. Not his place in hockey history. Not his place on the Detroit Red Wings’ roster. For 25 seasons, he was the face of the Red Wings, and former teammate Ted Lindsay doesn’t remember a training camp in which Howe wasn’t fighting for his job. “He was always worried about making the team,” Lindsay said. “It was a tough job for the guy playing on the wing in training camp. This guy was fighting for his position.” Howe was humble. On the ice, he could be mean. And when he finished his career, Lindsay said Mr. Hockey’s place was at the top. “He’s the greatest hockey player who ever played,” Lindsay said. “That includes all of them.” On Friday, Howe died at age 88. He died more than four decades after playing his last game for the Red Wings, 36 years after his final NHL action, with his impact on the game undisputed. He won six Hart Trophies, six Art Ross Trophies and, most importantly, four Stanley Cups. His professional playing career spanned six decades. He finished with 801 career regular-season goals, a total topped by only Wayne Gretzky. His 1,850 regular-season points was another mark that Gretzky broke.
“He is, he was, he will always be the greatest of all time,” Wayne Gretzky said of Howe, center, when Howe was honored last February. Transcendental Graphics/Getty Images
NASCAR launches new campaign to promote diversity, end racism
NASCAR and the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE) have launched a new campaign to promote diversity, inclusion and equality both in sports and in the community at large. As part of the campaign, there is a public service announcement with six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson, 2015 Daytona 500 winner Joey Logano, 2014 Coke Zero 400 winner Aric Almirola and NASCAR Drive for Diversity graduates Kyle Larson and Darrell Wallace Jr. NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France is a founding member of the RISE Board of Directors. RISE was founded by Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross. “Discrimination has no place in our society, which is why we have partnered with RISE and Stephen Ross to help put an end to intolerance in sports,” France said. “With the help of our talented drivers who support this important message, we want to reinforce our sport’s unwavering commitment to promoting diversity and inclusion.”
(Video, https://youtu.be/9U4-adNo0zs) Caption: RISE and NASCAR have teamed up to fight racial discrimination and harassment. Winning on and off the track is driven by equality for all.
John Brooks blossoms for the USA, embraces his dual-nationality
“Everybody needs games,” he said. “And now I’ve had a lot of games, a lot of different type of opponents and of course you get into a feeling where, O.K., now you don’t have to step out or now you have to step out. I think I’m also at an age where I’m not like young-young, with no experience. I’ve had a lot of games in the Bundesliga, a couple of games here and I feel more comfortable with everything. “It’s perfect, perfect for a young player when you know you’re allowed to do mistakes,” he continued. “Not everything is perfect. Not every game will go the perfect way. But you know and you feel you’re allowed to do it. It’s way better than to feel pressure the whole time.” Comfort does not lead to complacency, at least for Brooks. He’s flourished at Hertha despite family and familiarity and he intends to do the same for the U.S. He said he’s energized by the travel that grinds others down. He’s played in countries he never imagined visiting and has already been to more of the U.S. than many who were born here. Last weekend, he saw his father’s hometown for the first time in memory and helped lead the Americans to a 4-0 rout of Costa Rica at Soldier Field.