Sports Doing Good Newsletter, #231

Sept. 18 – Sept. 24, 2016

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

  1. Tommie Smith, John Carlos to Join Team USA at White House Visit
  2. Game of her life
  3. U.S. Paralympic Cyclist Allison Jones Is An Engineer Who Helped Teammate Reach Rio
  4. After devastating knee injury, Nick Chubb would not be denied
  5. The Fierce Urgency of Melo
  6. Vin Scully thanks Dodgers fans with touching letter
  7. An English Soccer Club Turns Fantasy Sports Into Reality
  8. How One Event Changed Everything For Kids With Disabilities
  9. Arizona Cardinals’ Patrick Peterson Talks HyperIce, Investing, Life After NFL
  10. Cricket is king but Pakistan baseball makes strides in New York

Global Organizations Come Together to Help Tackle Homophobia in Sport (Beyond Sport)
Letter to My Younger Self (by Antoine Walker) (The Players’ Tribune)
Joining forces around the World Peace Day (Peace and Sport)

In the cycle of life, we expect to see progress, development, or improvement in all areas, or at least we should. Not everything will turn out perfectly but our fight to grow positively informs us as individuals and communities. However, despite the passage of time, there is no guarantee of success.

The movement we have seen recently in professional football, which has extended to athletes in professional soccer and college sports, is taking us back to times in our history when athletes were fighting for similar advances in civil rights. And while we have had advances and these early fighters are now feted as pioneers, that was not the case when they first undertook their efforts. Taking a stand was and still is often seen as a threat.

In 1968 U.S. Olympians Tommie Smith and John Carlos gave the world a moment to stop and reflect. In front of a global audience they said in a very powerful way, “we have rights” and challenged society to give them those rights. Many were outraged and had tremendous scorn for these athletes. Feelings have softened over the years and these athletes and others who have fought for the rights of everyone are appropriately lauded. Our first story this week highlights the invitation extended to Carlos and Smith to join our most recent Olympians on their visit to the White House.

While Smith and Carlos and other individuals have seen some change in how they are perceived, some of the same outrage and scorn they experienced previously is being directed at Colin Kapernick and other modern athletes. We would have hoped that 48 years after Smith and Carlos raised their fists people’s reaction to such a gesture would be more rational and reasonable. You don’t have to agree with Kapernick or these other athletes but to come after them for expressing their opinion is irrational and frankly, quite ignorant. Those who discriminate against others or treat them as lesser beings are the ones who are truly disrespecting the flag and everyone who has fought in its honor.

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Tommie Smith, John Carlos to Join Team USA at White House Visit
Although the action by Smith and Carlos has become a key moment in the effort to achieve equal treatment, the immediate reaction was negative. Joseph M. Sheehan of the New York Times noted at the time the athletes were suspended by the USOC and organization President Douglas F. Roby told them to leave the Olympic Village. In 2008, Smith and Carlos were honored with the Arthur Ashe Courage Award to mark the 40th anniversary of their decision to take a public stand. A new series of protests has occurred over the past couple of months. San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick started a trend by refusing to stand for the national anthem during the NFL preseason, a decision he’s carried into the regular season. More athletes, both football players and those from other corners of the sports universe, have followed his lead by either kneeling for the anthem or raising their fist during the song. The phenomena landed Kaepernick on the cover of Time magazine.

American sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos, who raised their fists on the podium at the 1968 Olympics to create one of the most iconic images in United States Olympic history, will join Team USA during a visit to the White House next week. Getty Images.

Game of her life
Although Phiona is already implausibly good at something she has no business even doing, she is, like most girls and women in Uganda, uncomfortable sharing what she’s thinking. Normally, nobody cares. She tries to answer any questions about herself with a shrug. When Phiona is compelled to speak, she is barely audible and usually staring at her feet. She realizes that chess makes her stand out, which makes her a target in Katwe, among the most dangerous neighborhoods in Uganda. So she is conditioned to say as little as possible. “Her personality with the outside world is still quite reserved, because she feels inferior due to her background,” Katende says. “But in chess I am always reminding her that anyone can lift a piece, because it is so light. What separates you is where you choose to put it down. Chess is the one thing in Phiona’s life she can control. Chess is her one chance to feel superior.”

She’s 14, lives in the slums of Uganda and is just now learning to read. But Phiona Mutesi’s instincts have made her a player to watch in international chess. Stephanie Sinclair

U.S. Paralympic Cyclist Allison Jones Is An Engineer Who Helped Teammate Reach Rio
After a period of dejection, Lister began competing in disabled sports in 2009, which reignited his competitive spirit. Still, his paralyzed arm was unpredictable, and it would tighten up too much when he rode his bike. This tightening would cause his arm to move involuntarily, which produced resistance and hindered his concentration. That’s when Jones came in, offering Lister the services of Titan Robotics. Using the 3D printers, Jones helped design and print an aerodynamic tray that could hold Lister’s arm in place while he rode. On top of that, the tray has extra padding on the end to hit a pressure point that relaxes his left hand and arm. “It’s a game-changer,” Lister told Colorado Springs station KRDO. “With this arm perch, it puts my arm in a secure position and doesn’t allow it to move around. It takes the uncontrollable nature of my arm out of the equation and allows me to ride more comfortably and a lot faster.” Lister credited the 3D printed technology for helping him make the U.S. team, and Jones hoped her work at Titan Robotics could help other athletes in the future. Jones’ father was always one of the creative minds behind the equipment she designed for herself. Now she just wants to use her father’s inspiration to pay it forward.

Finished in 6th place for the Qualifying race for the C1-3 3000m Pursuit. It was a great first event to get the nerves out. (Photo credit: Diane Jones)

After devastating knee injury, Nick Chubb would not be denied
“Malcolm Gladwell wrote about outliers,” Georgia director of sports medicine Ron Courson said. “Nick is an outlier. He’s genetically gifted. He has a tremendous work ethic, and he’s as mentally tough as anyone I’ve ever seen. I’m not surprised he’s back.” Going into No. 12 Georgia’s road game at No. 23 Ole Miss on Saturday, Chubb ranks second in the SEC with 365 rushing yards with three touchdowns. Even after suffering the knee injury, he’s ranked among the top running backs available for next spring’s NFL draft, if he decides to forgo his senior season. “It’s just something inside me, I guess,” Chubb said. “I’ve never backed down from anything. I like challenges, and it was big challenge in front of me. I just wanted to come back for my teammates and everyone who supported me.”

Nick Chubb had surgery on his injured knee on Oct. 23, 2015. After a lengthy and intensive rehabilitation, he returned to the field on Sept. 3. Ron Courson/University of Georgia athletics

The Fierce Urgency of Melo
Anthony’s trip to Santa Marta—he was the only member of the Team USA squad to feel the pulse of the have-nots in Brazil in this way—was another impromptu act in a summer laden with bursts of social activism, of the baby-faced Baltimore kid facing the struggle head-on. The New York Knicks forward, the one-time inconsistent player who would look disinterested on the court for maddeningly long stretches of time, the young man who used to text on his phone in the middle of interviews, has been a major actor in a rapidly transforming sports universe the past three months. And in a testament to confronting the racial fires burning across America, it had little to do with his on-court performance in the Olympics, where he returned for the fourth time as the unofficial captain of the gold-medal-winning Team USA. “Carmelo taught us all this summer what it means to use your position to influence the world,” said Olympic teammate Kyrie Irving. “He taught us that we need to stand up for what we believe in and that athletes need to get involved in the social issues that are affecting us all. I don’t think you can overstate the impact that Carmelo’s had on athletes in all sports.”

United States forward Carmelo Anthony stands for the national anthem before playing against Nigeria during an exhibition basketball game at the Toyota Center. (Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports)

Vin Scully thanks Dodgers fans with touching letter
“Many years ago, a little red-headed boy was walking home from school, passing a Chinese laundry and stopped to see the score of a World Series game posted in the window. The Yankees beat the Giants, 18-4, on October 2, 1936. The boy’s reaction was pity for the Giants and he became a rabid Giants’ fan from that day forward, until the joyous moment when he was hired to broadcast Brooklyn Dodgers games in 1950. Ironically, October 2, 2016 will mark my final broadcast of a Giants-Dodgers game. It will also be exactly 80 years to the day since that little boy fell in love with baseball. God has been very generous to that little boy, allowing him to fulfill a dream of becoming a broadcaster and to live it for 67 years. Since 1958, you and I have grown up together through the good times and the bad. The transistor radio is what bound us together. Were you at the Coliseum when we sang “Happy Birthday” to an umpire? Were you among the crowd that groaned at one of my puns? Did you kindly laugh at one of my little jokes? Did I put you to sleep with the transistor radio tucked under your pillow? You were simply always there for me. I have always felt that I needed you more than you needed me and that holds true to this very day. I have been privileged to share in your passion and love for this great game. My family means everything to me and I will now be able to share life’s experiences with them. My wife, Sandi, our children, Kevin, Todd, Erin, Kelly, and Catherine, along with our entire family will join me in sharing God’s blessings of that precious gift of time. You folks have truly been “The Wind Beneath My Wings” and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for joining me on this incredible journey of 67 years of broadcasting Dodger baseball.

Dodgers broadcasting legend Vin Scully says thank you to the fans. (AP)

An English Soccer Club Turns Fantasy Sports Into Reality
Formed this year and currently playing in the Essex Alliance Premier League — the 12th tier of England’s competitive soccer pyramid — United London F.C. claims to be the world’s only managerless club. In place of a traditional coach, the team’s business model brings together elements of reality TV voting and player analytics similar to those used in video games and by scouts. It employs a fantasy football-style system that awards points to or deducts points from the team’s fans (acting individually as managers) based on whether their selections make the starting 11, score or record an assist, or play a role in posting a shutout. “In nonleague football, there’s not much in the way of eyeballs, because the Premier League just takes over everything,” North, 38, said. “That’s where we want to be different, in that we are building an online fan base, rather than a localized one.” To date, more than 2,000 people have signed up with the club, which played its first competitive match in early September. The team claims support from fans in Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Sweden and the United States. Each week, those fans vote on United London’s starting lineup by reviewing player statistics, scouting reports and videos of previous weeks’ matches posted online by the club. After voting closes each Friday, the squad for Saturday’s match is announced.

The team’s voting page as it appeared on Tuesday. After fan voting closes each Friday, the squad for Saturday’s match is announced.

How One Event Changed Everything For Kids With Disabilities
But to Bev Vaughn, who served on a volunteer steering committee for the Atlanta Paralympics, BlazeSports was only half the puzzle. At the time, Vaughn coordinated wheelchair sports in an experimental after-school program in DeKalb County (Ga.), but she wanted to more deeply integrate the athletes into the “classic” high school experience. With a friend from the Art Institute of Atlanta, Vaughn started the American Association of Adapted Sports Programs and began an effort to establish adapted programs as varsity teams. Two decades later, 13 states and several hundred schools have official adaptive sports teams—ranging from wheelchair basketball to golf—which function like traditional varsity teams, with state tournaments and all. Most of those 13 states consulted with AAASP before designing their programs. A 2013 letter from the Department of Education that demanded equal athletic opportunity in schools—often called Title IX for students with disabilities—also accelerated the growth. Last week, GOOD spoke with Vaughn about Atlanta’s legacy and the ongoing fight for athletic equality.

Arizona Cardinals’ Patrick Peterson Talks HyperIce, Investing, Life After NFL
Arizona Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson has been named a Pro Bowler during his first five seasons in the NFL and is arguably one of the league’s best defensive backs. An Under Armour endorser, the 26-year-old Peterson recently gave a $1 million donation to LSU’s football program, is not shy about his “impeccable” style and during the current season, has the No. 8-selling defensive jersey at Dick’s Sporting Goods. Prior to the Cardinals hosting the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, Peterson shared his thoughts with SportTechie on being a shareholder in HyperIce, a company that sells high-performance and recovery products. The Fort Lauderdale, Fla. native also discussed his investing decisions, other tech-focused companies he is involved with and where he sees himself in 15 years…I’m making financial decisions now that I know will set me up for the future. In 15 years, I hope these decisions will allow me to continue living a comfortable lifestyle so I can focus on things that matter like spending time with my family and helping others. I’d also like to pay it forward to young athletes and help them be the best they can be so they can enjoy success just like I have been able to. That’s why I love HyperIce so much. They make quality products that help athletes achieve optimal performance, and that’s a mission I’m proud to get behind.

(Courtesy of HYPERICE)

Cricket is king but Pakistan baseball makes strides in New York
Many players on Pakistan’s national team roster are converted cricketers. Shortstop Arsalan Jamashaid says he no longer plays cricket after switching to the Pakistan military baseball team from the military cricket team. “When I go back, all my friends, all the people who love me playing, I will be an example for them,” Jamashaid said. “And that’s why we work hard on this.” Pakistan raised a lot of eyebrows despite failing to win a game in the largest-scale international baseball tournament the country has ever participated in. Outfielder Muhammad Sumair Zawar hit a single to centre field in the country’s first at-bat of WBC qualifying and Faqir Hussain had two extra-base hits in the tournament opening 10-0 loss to Brazil. “They have tools,” Great Britain manager Liam Carroll said of Pakistan on Friday. “You can see that it’s raw. But you can see guys throwing really hard, guys who are really quick and guys who can hit the ball. “They have players. The hardest part is having the athletes that choose baseball. They’ll be in pretty good shape.”–mlb.html

Field hockey and cricket are Pakistan’s two major sports but with baseball returning to the Olympics in 2020, the country is hoping to take part (AFP Photo/Sam Yeh)

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