Sports Doing Good Newsletter, #233

Oct. 2 – Oct. 8, 2016

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

  1. Spotlight on landmark Vatican conference on Faith and Sport
  2. GC2018 leading the way on gender equality in sport
  3. UConn Women’s Basketball Team Partners with Athletes For Hope University
  4. Amanda Kessel Is Making Up for Lost Time, in a Hurry
  5. Asian-American Fighters Return to Ancestral Homelands, and Find Fans Waiting
  6. Major League Baseball Can Learn Something From The Washington Nationals
  7. School of Hard Knocks teach valuable lessons
  8. FACT SHEET: Tackling Climate through Sports
  9. The WNBA’s Best Team Is A Social Justice Powerhouse
  10. Biggest Goosebump Moments in Sports This Year (So Far)

The Name on the Back (Micah Abernathy) (The Players’ Tribune)
ASICS Partners with The Running Charity (Beyond Sport)
The Big Interview: FIFA on sustainability (Beyond Sport)
It’s My Turn Now (Scott Matzka) (The Players’ Tribune)
Tibet’s first football club aims at unity, struggles for Chinese players (Peace and Sport)

Our first story this week highlighted a new sport and development conference hosted by the Vatican. This truly unique conference was held to highlight and strengthen the power of sport to have an impact on individuals and communities worldwide. Initiated by Pope Francis with the support of the IOC, U.N., and corporate and organizational partners from around the world, the conference brought much attention to the actual and potential impact that sports has on our lives and how it can spearhead a movement to address needs that we have all around the world, especially those involving the poorest of the poor and the most vulnerable.

In addition to discussing how faith and sport can work together, the Vatican conference aimed to launch a movement to develop – through sport – life skills, character, values and enjoyment of life, inspiring people to live in accordance with six principles. These 6 principles are: compassion, respect, love, enlightenment, balance and joy. These principles, and examples of how sport can help fulfill our goal to realize those principles, have been regularly featured at Sports Doing Good over the past five years. We are excited to see how this effort by the Vatican evolves over the next year.

In addition to the 10 stories this week, we wanted to take a moment to highlight a program that will be starting up again soon that certainly would have the Vatican’s conference as a topic of conversation and a point for reflection. The George Washington University Sports Philanthropy Executive Certificate Program is “the first and only program of its kind designed for individuals currently working in sports philanthropy roles and for those who are interested in entering the field. Students who enroll in the program can expect to increase their impact by gaining important knowledge of sports philanthropy best practices from top-quality faculty. Students will also have the opportunity to expand their network by connecting with guest speakers, faculty members, alumni and current students from various teams, leagues, non-profits using sports for social good and sports-related companies working in social responsibility.”

The fall 2016 cohort kicks off on November 1 and enrollment is currently open. George Washington is pleased to extend a special offer to Sports Doing Good readers that includes:

  • $500 off of program registration (write Sports Doing Good on your application form to receive this discount). Payment plans are available.
  • A complimentary registration to the 2016 PlayScience Innovation and Impact in Kids and Family Play, Fitness and Technology Conference on November 2-3 in Washington, DC($795.00 value).
  • A complimentary registration to the 2017 Sports Industry Networking and Career Conference March 3-4 in Washington, DC ($249.00 value).

There will be an in-person program residency in conjunction with the Innovation and Impact in Kids and Family Play, Fitness and Technology Conference on November 2-3 in DC.* All other course work is done online and via conference calls.

For additional program information visit the George Washington University Sports Philanthropy Website or email

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So enjoy. And have a good week.

Spotlight on landmark Vatican conference on Faith and Sport
In addition to discussing how faith and sport can work together, the Vatican conference aims to launch a movement to develop – through sport – life skills, character, values and enjoyment of life, inspiring people to live in accordance with six principles. These 6 principles are: compassion, respect, love, enlightenment, balance and joy. Organisers said participants will be focusing in particular on how to use the benefits of sport to empower and help the poor and disadvantaged. Among the speakers present at the Vatican press conference was Kashif Siddiqi, a professional soccer player and co-founder of the movement, Football for Peace. Siddiqi spoke with Vatican Radio’s Hayley Susino about his mission and organization. Kashif Siddiqi spoke about the aims of the Football for Peace movement that he helped to set up: “It’s a movement that is working with the United Nations and platforms such as ‘Sport at the Service of Humanity’, which is standing up for and really uniting faith and cultures. I think it is a perfect opportunity for people to come together at a time like this when there is so much tension and conflict around the world,” said Siddiqi. Siddiqi reflected on his background and how that influences his role in the faith and sport community. “I think it is important for me as a British Muslim to be here and to really be a catalyst to show that faith and sport can work together.”

Speakers at the Vatican press conference to brief journalists on the first ever global conference on Faith and Sport. – RV

GC2018 leading the way on gender equality in sport
Minister Hinchliffe said the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games was set to be the most inclusive Games in history, by also increasing the inclusion of people with disability. “We’re delivering the largest integrated para-sports program in Commonwealth Games history, with more than 300 athletes expected to compete in 38 events, including the marathon and para-triathlon,” he said. “It is a very welcome boost to world sport and more broadly a positive move for inclusion across the board – that has been a long time coming.” “At the 1930 Games in Hamilton, Ontario women competed in just 12 per cent of the total medal events and 88 years later equality will finally be realised on the Gold Coast. Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games Corporation (GOLDOC) Chairman, Peter Beattie AC said gender equality, the largest ever para-sport program, equal medal events across the sport program and focus on inclusivity would prove to be outstanding 2018 Games’ legacies. “The Commonwealth is as culturally diverse as it is geographically which has contributed to an uneven gender ratio in the past, but we’ve looked at the sports – the team sport offerings and the individual and mixed events – and we’ve talked to the CGF and the sporting federations and we believe we have got it right this time,” Mr. Beattie said.

UConn Women’s Basketball Team Partners with Athletes For Hope University
There are very few college athletic programs that are synonymous with winning like the UConn Women’s Basketball team. The Huskies are on a quest this 2016-2017 season for their 5th NCAA championship in a row. Despite their quickly approaching season, the team took time out of their busy schedule to participate in an AFH University 1.0 workshop and took time to volunteer last week as part of the Athletes for Active Schools Campaign. During the workshop, The Huskies discussed many topics such as their platform as college athletes and their role in the community. The Huskies then headed over to Grace Academy, which is a tuition-free middle school for girls from underserved families in Hartford, CT. During the visit, the Huskies met with a group of 60 girls as they shared one interesting fact about themselves with the students, spoke about the importance of physical activity, and then led the students through activities at various stations throughout the gym. The students took part in hula hooping, relay races, yoga, push-up challenges, relay races and more alongside their new friends.

Amanda Kessel Is Making Up for Lost Time, in a Hurry
“I was a completely different person for two years,” Kessel said. “Not only the fact of feeling like that, but then having my passion stripped away from me of playing hockey and being with my teammates, it was very dark times.” But by September 2015, Kessel had returned to campus and began skating on her own once or twice a week. She was cleared by team doctors in January to practice and then helped spur Minnesota to the national title in March. Kessel scored the decisive goal in the championship game. Today, Kessel, who signed with the Riveters in May, seems to be back in her pre-Olympic form. At a recent practice, she finished first in her group for each sprint, exhibiting her trademark speed. While battling along the boards, she spun and snapped past defenders, then darted across the crease and flicked backhand wrist shots into the net before the goalie could react.

Kessel scored for the United States during the Sochi Olympics. Credit Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Asian-American Fighters Return to Ancestral Homelands, and Find Fans Waiting
While mixed martial arts is one of the fastest-growing sports in the world, and most of the top M.M.A. fighters in Asia were born on the continent, an increasing number — including two current Asian-American champions — have returned to their ancestral homelands to compete, some with great success and huge fan bases. “I see that their success is that they are very humble and accessible to fans,” said Matt Eaton, editor of The Fight Nation, a leading online M.M.A. news site based in Hong Kong. He said that many young fans “can go out and meet a Brandon Vera, so they don’t feel disconnected from the athletes like they are with other international sports.” Eaton added: “And they are embracing their heritage, which a lot of people feel is very genuine. People feel they can connect to them.” Among those projected for international fame are Vera and Angela Lee, the reigning Asian female M.M.A. fighter of the year. Lee, a 20-year-old atomweight fighter (105 pounds or less) who grew up in Hawaii, was crowned the ONE Championship’s first female titlist in May. “I, myself, am a Canadian-born American, raised in Hawaii, but of Korean and Singaporean-Chinese ethnicity,” Lee said. “How can you wrap your head around that? La N Sang, a middleweight fighter, and his family were granted political asylum after moving to the United States in 2003. He has become a surprise celebrity in his native Myanmar. Credit Gemunu Amarasinghe/Associated Press

Major League Baseball Can Learn Something From The Washington Nationals
The playoffs in Major League Baseball have begun. Why do some franchises excel and head towards the World Series while others flounder? The key is the quality of the organization. I fell in love with baseball in 1958 when the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles and spent my youth rooting for Sandy Koufax, Maury Wills and the gifted storytelling of announcer Vin Scully. The Dodgers could have folded this year with half the team on the injured list including their superstar Clayton Kershaw. Andrew Friedman and the Dodgers organization did a superb job in finding creative ways to add help, and the team played its best baseball. Their opponent in the first series is the Washington Nationals. Their organization has excelled in ways that could provide a template for struggling teams.? The Nats just won the National League East pennant for the third time in the last five years. They have become a perennial winner without leaning towards the popular ends of the baseball spectrum, with mathematical based “moneyball” analytics on one end and heavy spending on the other. The teams that follow those respective blueprints usually do not win year in and year out the way that the Nats have recently. So what gives rise to this non-“moneyball,” non-break-the-bank success? The Nats scout well, keep young stars, are strategic in free agency, hire experienced managers, and have created a vibrant game day atmosphere. Here’s how they are succeeding in those areas.

School of Hard Knocks teach valuable lessons
The School of Hard Knocks (SoHK) was founded in 2012, using rugby coaches and mentors to support unemployed adults. The project is now engaging with young people in London and South Wales. In January 2015, the charity launched a new programme, ‘SOHK for Schools’ in East London, which is now being delivered further across the capital and most recently in Cardiff, South Wales.  Most of the children we work with are struggling for motivation and a sense of engagement with school; others are in need of increased personal confidence and a sense of wellbeing. Others still are on the cusp of permanent exclusion from mainstream education. Many are a combination of all three. The courses for adults are necessarily short (just eight weeks) as our aim is to get participants into full time employment as quickly as possible, although ongoing mentoring is offered as post-course support. Our approach to working with children is very different in respect to the length of time we work with them which is one session per week, every week of the school year from year 9 through to year 11.  The essential thinking however, is the same; that is, to use sport – specifically rugby and boxing – as the means of personal transformation.

FACT SHEET: Tackling Climate through Sports
Individuals and organizations across the country are stepping up to take action on climate change through sports, from the greening of athletic facilities, to preparing for the impacts of extreme heat on players, to educating and engaging fans. The theme of climate change and sports aligns with the Administration’s leadership on climate change efforts under President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, as well as the priority on health and wellness through fitness and sports. This summer, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) issued a call to action, asking for ideas from citizens and organizations from across the country on how leadership through sports can be used to cut carbon pollution, enhance climate resilience, and increase public understanding and awareness. The White House also hosted a roundtable on climate change and sports that brought together athletes and representatives from teams, leagues, companies, and athletic organizations to discuss how to act on climate change within this community. Today, on the inaugural Green Sports Day and in line with the Pittsburgh Penguins’ visit to the White House to celebrate their Stanley Cup victory, OSTP is announcing a set of exciting new actions by Federal agencies and outside organizations who are using innovative approaches to tackle climate change through sports.

Levi’s Stadium is one of the greenest venues in pro sports and the first professional football stadium to open with LEED Gold certification.

The WNBA’s Best Team Is A Social Justice Powerhouse
Poised to enter the WNBA finals against the Los Angeles Sparks on Sunday with a league-best 28-6 record—a victory would be Minnesota’s fourth championship in six years—the Lynx seem equally adept at applying full-court pressure to social change as to their opponents. The team’s attention to social justice can be traced back to 2012, when Lynx standout Seimone Augustus spoke out against a proposed same-sex marriage ban in Minnesota. She and long-time partner LaTaya Varner married in 2015. Reeve says that at that time, she also was growing increasingly fed up. “Growing up, you don’t always see the inequities and injustices, but as you get older, finally, you say, ‘Darn it, that’s enough! I want to stop this cycle,’” Reeve says. “We think that as leaders in the community, we have a responsibility to use our voices to create opportunities for change where needed, to shine the light on marginalized groups or social injustices,” she says. “It’s something I’m just as passionate about as I am about coaching, and any chance we get we’re gonna do that.” Reeve has made good on her promise several times this year, notably refusing to talk basketball to ESPN’s Holly Rowe during a sideline interview, instead complimenting the reporter on her battle against breast cancer. And last week when Reeve was honored as the WNBA’s coach of the year, she used her acceptance speech to call out the media for its lack of coverage of women’s sports.

Biggest Goosebump Moments in Sports This Year (So Far)
Certain sports moments trigger our emotions more so than others. Goosebumps appeared on our arms when former New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter walked to the plate for his final at-bat at Yankee Stadium in September 2014. You may have even shed a tear or two when Jeter delivered a walk-off single to win the game and produce one of the most memorable farewells to a home audience we’ll ever see from a sports icon. 2016 brought us a handful of similar moments in the first ten months of the year. We’ll never hear Vin Scully call another Major League Baseball game. The legendary announcer retired following the regular season contest played by the Los Angeles Dodgers on October 2. Those of us lucky enough to hear Scully over the years couldn’t help brushing goosebumps off our arms as we heard him wish us all a “pleasant good afternoon” one last time. Peyton Manning rode off into the sunset after winning a Super Bowl. LeBron James couldn’t contain his emotions after winning a title with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Dee Gordon hit a home run that literally brought fans to tears. For all we know, the biggest goosebump moment of 2016 hasn’t yet occurred. We’ll be watching, and we’ll be sure to not miss the next time sports gives us chills.
(Video,  Caption: Liverpool & Dortmund supporters, before the European tie, 2nd leg raised the roof of Anfield with an epic rendition of You’ll Never Walk Alone, the anthem of both clubs!

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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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