Sports Doing Good Newsletter, #234

Oct. 9 – Oct. 15, 2016

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

  1. The incredible story behind Cody Miller’s rise to Olympic fame
  2. President Obama talks race, sports and being Undefeated
  3. Houston’s Coach Pecks Away at Football’s Macho Culture, a Kiss at a Time
  4. Uprooted to Brooklyn, and Nourished by Cricket
  5. Maple Leafs’ Auston Matthews scores four goals in NHL debut, most since league began
  6. Martina Navratilova: Sports Governing Bodies Must Take Responsibility For Human Rights
  7. Pac-12 to host first conference-wide college sports sustainability summit
  8. Female Extreme Athletes Are On A Mission For Equality, And Samarria Brevard Is Leading The Way
  9. Inside the football YouTube revolution: How ArsenalFanTV, The Redmen and Full Time Devils are shaking up the broadcasting landscape
  10. NHL’s Washington Capitals to Refurbish 3 Loudoun Rinks

Well-Groomed and Well-Read (Jarvis Jenkins) (The Players’ Tribune)
Standard Chartered & Liverpool FC have eyes on the prize of tackling avoidable blindness (Beyond Sport)
IWG to host Africa Women and Sport Conference (Sport and Dev)
1 of 1,000,000: Coach Anthony’s Service as a AmeriCorps Member (Up2Us)
The Triumph of the First ‘I move for Peace’ Run! (Peace and Sport)

Despite all the hyperbole associated with the coverage of sports in today’s society, it is quite rare that we actually have something that has never happened before come across our screen. Well, we saw one this week and it was legitimately impressive. Auston Matthews, the first pick in the NHL draft by the Toronto Maple Leafs, already stood out for he is not only American, he is from that source of great hockey talent, Scottsdale, Arizona! (kidding) Well, Auston did do something unprecedented. He scored four goals in his very first game. That got sports fans, not just hockey fans, excited about this next new (potential) superstar. Sports are very much about the transcendent performers we get to occasionally see and Matthews may be a new one for us to follow.

Inspirational stories are thankfully not so rare in sports and the one we highlight about U.S. Olympic swimmer Cody Miller is one that will move you. Cody and his family have battled to just survive, forget about excelling at an elite level. His great success despite these challenges is a testament to his fortitude and that of his family.

The other stories we feature this week include: President Obama participating in a town hall in which the power of sport is promoted; University of Houston football coach Tom Herman and the affection he has for his players; the emergence of the sport of cricket in New York City, with a look at a burgeoning high school power in Brooklyn; strong words from tennis legend Martina Navratilova about the responsibility of sport organizations to operate honestly; the Pac-12 college sports conference and its commitment to sustainability; the fight for better treatment for girls/women in the world of skateboarding; a growing phenomenon in the world of sports media production and promotion developing in England; and efforts by the NHL’s Washington Capitals to help build the grassroots hockey programs needed to develop future players and potentially future stars like Auston Matthews.

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So enjoy. And have a good week.

The incredible story behind Cody Miller’s rise to Olympic fame
When Cody arrived at Indiana, he entered a fully functioning support system. Swimming had delivered out of chaos and into stability. This was a world he hadn’t experienced. One day he confided something to one of Indiana’s volunteer assistant coaches, Ali DeWitt: Before arrived at IU, he’d never had hot breakfasts before. Cereal and bagels were all he knew; the joys of bacon and sausage and eggs were a new luxury. “My heart kind of died inside,” DeWitt said. “My mom always made me hot breakfast. I have both my parents, who spoil me rotten. Hearing his story was amazing to me.” Looze knew he was getting a talented breaststroker. He did not know how driven Miller was to maximize his potential. At maybe 5-foot-11 – or maybe not – Cody is not blessed with the length that can be so important in swimming. The inhibited lung capacity had to be overcome. But superior technique and an enthusiastic commitment to the endless daily workout grind elevated Miller into the sport’s elite. “He had something to prove to everyone,” Indiana assistant Mike Westphal said. “There weren’t a lot of people saying, ‘Cody Miller is the next Olympian.’ That determination and drive was there.”

President Obama talks race, sports and being Undefeated
As a young man growing up in Hawaii, Obama, a backup guard on a high school team that won a state championship, said he had a full roster of athletic heroes. And their activism made a lasting impression on him. Two of his favorites were tennis star Arthur Ashe and boxing champ Muhammad Ali, black men whose styles could not be more different but whose examples helped Obama understand “what it meant to be a man.” Ali was boisterous and brash and, early on, a member of the separatist Nation of Islam. He risked jail by refusing to serve in the military. The bespectacled Ashe was soft-spoken, studious and had the mien of a college professor. He joined the Army ROTC while attending the University of California-Los Angeles and after graduation worked at the military academy at West Point. But both Ali and Ashe were transformational, Obama said. Ali used his unparalleled popularity as a boxer to become an outspoken activist for racial justice and the independence and dignity of African-Americans, before becoming a global humanitarian. And even as Ashe found fame in the mostly white world of professional tennis, he became a vocal critic of South Africa’s racist apartheid regime. And after he contracted AIDS through a blood transfusion, he worked to further awareness of the disease.

President says ‘protest is fine, but becomes more profound if activists know the change they are seeking’

Houston’s Coach Pecks Away at Football’s Macho Culture, a Kiss at a Time
Herman’s rite has earned praise from psychologists for its frank articulation of the emotion that inevitably develops on teams and glues together the best of them. “He’s disrupting a stereotype about boys and men, a notion of masculinity that says boys and men are only driven by the desire for competition and autonomy,” said Niobe Way, a psychology professor at New York University. “All the research — not just mine — emphasizes that humans are actually not driven by competition and autonomy. What we’re driven by is the desire to be in connected communities.” McCloskey, a senior and a team captain, said the practice fit comfortably into a program where “any day you walk into the facility, you have no idea what’s coming down the pipe.” At Houston, coaches knight players with swords. Game-day breakfasts have been known to feature random smoke bombs — part of what is known in the program as “training for chaos.” Before last season, Herman promised to get a diamond grill — dental jewelry popular in hip-hop circles — if his Cougars won their conference. When they did, he kept his word.

“I’m a bit confused as to why it’s garnered so much attention and why it’s seemed so odd,” Houston Coach Tom Herman, 41, said of his ritual of kissing and hugging players. Credit Matt Roth for The New York Times

Uprooted to Brooklyn, and Nourished by Cricket
Cricket is an obsession in the Indian subcontinent, Britain, the West Indies, southern Africa, Australia and New Zealand. Some matches between national teams — known as test matches — can last five days. (I recall decades ago watching a test match in a pub in Sydney, Australia; it was clear we could drink ourselves bleary-eyed and sober up 10 times over before that match ended.) New York’s high school cricket teams play a different and increasingly popular version, known as Twenty20, that was introduced 13 years ago in Wales and England. It is faster and quicker, which is not to be confused with fast or quick. Its rhythms share a kinship with baseball. Games run three hours or so. There are pitchers, known in cricket parlance as bowlers. Each side bats for a single long inning; one batter might hit continuously for an hour or more. If the teams are tied, they have a bowl-off, in which pitchers take turns trying to knock over wooden wickets. The more powerful teens, Tareq and Raju and Ashekin, can drive the ball beyond the far bounds of the field, the equivalent of a baseball home run. That is good for six runs. Put too many balls in the air, however, and you are at risk of getting caught. More often, Buckeyes batters try to accumulate runs on ground balls and line drives.

The cricket team from Brooklyn International High School watching a match at Marine Park in Brooklyn. Credit Ryan Christopher Jones for The New York Times

Maple Leafs’ Auston Matthews scores four goals in NHL debut, most since league began
The Maple Leafs’ rabid but success-starved fans were already looking forward to Auston Matthews’s rookie season. Now their excitement level has to be higher than the CN Tower in downtown Toronto. Matthews, the first overall pick in June’s NHL draft, scored on his first three shots in his first regular season appearance, but he wasn’t done there. Before the second period of a road game against the Senators was even over, he had racked up a whopping four goals. That was the most for player in his NHL debut since the league’s first day of existence (per ESPN Stats & Info), which was in 1917…Six years ago, Matthews chose to focus on hockey over baseball, which was clearly a smart decision. He was two days too young for the 2015 NHL draft, so he spent a season playing professionally in Switzerland before Toronto made him this year’s top pick. The Maple Leafs last won the Stanley Cup in 1967 and have the NHL’s longest championship drought, not that their fans have had any reason to even consider a championship run for many years. The team has made just one playoff appearance since 2006 and hasn’t made it past the first round since 2004.

Toronto’s Auston Matthews, right, celebrates a first period goal against the Senators with teammate William Nylander. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press via AP)

Martina Navratilova: Sports Governing Bodies Must Take Responsibility For Human Rights
The involvement of human rights, anti-corruption, and international labor groups that have criticized the current state of mega-sporting events may further bolster the process. With help from those groups, potential reforms or standards may be stronger and more focused than those FIFA and the IOC have implemented on their own.  “There does seem to me to be very significant buy-in,” Robinson told HuffPost. “There is, I think, a real will to provide that learning across sports, that determination that human rights and labor standards must be absolutely integrated” into these events. Navratilova, too, said she believed the forum could lead to reforms that help sporting organizations promote human rights, instead of violate them. “Because these events are awarded seven or 10 years ahead of time, imagine if that period was used to meaningfully improve human rights and the lives of the local population,” Navratilova said. “But too often mega-sporting events, with their long lead times, have brought high human costs for workers, for journalists, for children, for all of the local population.” “These human rights standards should not only address those things that we hope to avoid or mitigate,” she said, “but also encourage the many ways a mega-sporting event can positively impact the country and its communities.”

Martina Navratilova, who played in her final Olympics in 2004, says sporting organizations like the IOC need to take responsibility for human rights violations around the games. Ezra Shaw via Getty Images.

Pac-12 to host first conference-wide college sports sustainability summit
“Our member universities and athletics departments are national leaders in minimizing their impact on the environment,” said Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott. “In hosting this summit, we look forward to convening an esteemed group of experts to design new initiatives and share best practices to enhance our collective efforts.” The pledge was part of a larger push to use sports to address climate change. Earlier this year, the OSTP put out a call to action to capture new commitments and actions that leagues, teams, and organizations were taking in the climate space. Today’s announcement by the OSTP featured the Pac-12’s commitment along with other organizations’ pledges to minimize the environmental impact of their footprint and increase their response to counter the impact of climate change. As part of the Pac-12’s pledge, Pac-12 Networks will also continue to shine a light on meaningful sustainability initiatives across the Conference. Previous programming on Pac-12 Networks highlighted the Green Sports Alliance’s Zero Waste Challenge on Pac-12 campuses. In 2015, the Pac-12 joined the Green Sports Alliance, following the lead of the conference’s 12 institutions, which were already members of the Alliance. The Pac-12 was the first collegiate sports conference to count all its members as Alliance participants.

Announcement Part of White House OSTP Call to Action To Tackle Climate Through Sports

Female Extreme Athletes Are On A Mission For Equality, And Samarria Brevard Is Leading The Way
Samarria Brevard’s mild disposition, humble attitude, and quiet, cool confidence are all part of her laid-back persona. But there’s one thing that gets this California girl rolling: skateboards. As a 13-year-old, she stepped out of her Riverside home to find her brother on a skateboard. She immediately wanted to try it for herself. “I got on the board and had a lot of fun and thought, ‘I need to get me one of these,’” Brevard tells GOOD. “So, my mom got me one.” Brevard has been pursuing her passion ever since, eventually becoming the first black female skateboarder to win the Kimberley Diamond Cup (2014) and the first black female skateboarder to compete in the X Games. Still, making a career of skateboarding isn’t easy. Survival in professional skateboarding depends on prize money and sponsorship. In the women’s market, finding mainstream sponsors can be challenging. Mimi Knoop, a professional skateboarder and founder of The Alliance—an association of professional women skateboarders and other action sport athletes—says it is difficult for women to have a sustainable career from skateboarding alone. “There are only a couple women in the world being paid by endorsers and there are only a handful of events each year at which they can earn real money to survive,” she says.
(Video,  Caption: 10 Tricks with Samarria Brevard – Pomona Skatepark

Inside the football YouTube revolution: How ArsenalFanTV, The Redmen and Full Time Devils are shaking up the broadcasting landscape
The fact that many ArsenalFanTV contributors go to every game, home and away, is a big part of the channel’s appeal. It gives its talking heads a degree of credibility among other fans, many of whom are frustrated with what they perceive to be ill-informed coverage about their club. As Lyle says: “There are a lot of emotive issues and lots of talking points with Arsenal that are specific to us, but the thing is when I speak to other clubs they’ve all got issues as well, and only the fans of the individual teams can really understand them.” The inclusive aspect of ArsenalFanTV is also important to Lyle, because even though it inevitably leads to some extreme and ill-informed views, he is proud of the way the channel demonstrates the diversity of the club’s fanbase. “Someone pointed that to me the other day,” he says.  “I hadn’t thought about it but if you watch one of our videos you’ll see black, white, Asian, faces. That’s a great thing because Arsenal is such a diverse club and sometimes in the past these people have not really been able to have their say because people have not looked at them as typical fans – in other words a cockney-sounding white guy. “Whereas we don’t look at colour, if you support Arsenal and have something to say, come along.”

Fan TV channels are becoming more and more popular Credit: ArsenalFanTV/ FullTimeDevils/The Redmen

NHL’s Washington Capitals to Refurbish 3 Loudoun Rinks
In an effort to encourage youth participation in hockey, The Washington Capitals plans to upgrade 3 Loudoun ice rinks in a multi-million dollar rink refurbishment project, according to a joint announcement today by the Capitals and Loudoun County. To further encourage the growth of the game, local schools will receive a full set of street hockey equipment and PE curriculum. The Capitals will refurbish rinks at Trailside Park in Ashburn, Franklin Park in Purcellville and Douglass Community Center in Leesburg to make them safer and usable year-round by adding durable Sportcourt flooring and replacing the boards, benches and fence with a new Riley board system, according to a NHL announcement. “This collaborative effort with the Washington Capitals signifies the type of public-private partnership that can bring about long-lasting, positive changes in recreational pursuits for the citizens of Loudoun County,” said Loudoun County Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Services director Steve Torpy. “The improvements to our inline hockey rinks at Trailside Park, Franklin Park and Douglass Community Center will go a long way in providing opportunities for youth throughout the county to experience the great sport of hockey,” he added.

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