Sports Doing Good Newsletter, #241

Dec. 4 – Dec. 10, 2016

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

  1. What I Learned Watching LeBron James During My OCD Treatment
  2. How a Tiny Nebraska College Went to War in Valoran
  3. A Long Time Coming: Wrestler Logan Stieber Ready For First Senior Worlds
  4. Mind Over Body: Playing in the N.F.L. at 38
  5. teams with star athletes like Kobe, Neymar and Serena Williams to promote computer science education
  6. Amputee travels country to inspire disabled basketballers
  7. Retired NFL player owns a grocery store in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, food desert
  8. This Historic Hockey League Is Fighting For Survival
  9. New York Met Curtis Granderson’s #GrandGiving Initiative
  10. Twitch hosting an eSports marathon at the White House to raise healthcare awareness

For Our Brother (Andrew King) (The Players’ Tribune)
The peace goal of Myanmar (Beyond Sport)
The Laureus Day of Sport (Laureus)
Peace and Sport Award winners (Sport and Dev)
Striving for Service, Rafael Became A Coach (Up2Us)


“CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute” airs live on CNN and CNNgo Sunday, December 11 at 8 p.m. ET

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What I Learned Watching LeBron James During My OCD Treatment
These were powerful images for people like me who utilize similar mindfulness skills every day to deal with crippling anxiety. It’s not something you expect to see on such a grand stage, from such a popular athlete. People turn to sports for all kinds of reasons. One of them is that a team’s season or an athlete’s career is one long parable for what normal non-athletes struggle with every day. Watching people work hard, collaborate, recover from injuries, try, fail, try again, fail again, fail better, and maybe eventually succeed edifies us to believe that we can do the same in our own lives, and even if we can’t, it makes us think it’s worth trying. Has any recent superstar athlete embodied this paradigm better than LeBron? He failed against Dallas, as all of us have at one point or another. But he slowly became a more mindful person, he made concrete efforts to stop focusing on the outcome, to stop fearing failure, to enjoy the process, and now he’s likely going down as one of the two greatest basketball players of all time, if not the greatest, alongside the fearless MJ. This is inspiring stuff for anyone struggling with anything, but for people struggling with mental illness, especially an illness like OCD that is driven by near-paralyzing anxiety, LeBron’s journey to the top is unrivaled in its sports magnitude and its analogous application to our struggles.

How a Tiny Nebraska College Went to War in Valoran
Gillespie is a true esports believer and he’s far from alone in wanting to invest. Michael Sherman, Riot Games’s collegiate lead, says his company thinks this amateur competition will create an overall more competitive gaming environment. “We think of college as its own ecosystem with ties that might take some people to the professional level,” he says. According to company figures, more than 100 million people play League of Legends each month, and tens of millions of fans tuned in to watch the South Korean team SKT Telecom T1 win the recent world championship finals, which featured a live concert from the musician Zedd. More people watched the 2015 League of Legends* finals than the NBA Finals. Sherman isn’t suggesting that March Madness or the College Football Playoff is going to have competition in the next few years, but he is proud of how collegiate play has evolved since Collegiate Starleague kicked off in 2009, a full five years before Kurt Melcher launched Robert Morris’s League of Legends team in 2014. Melcher didn’t have a club to pull from but felt — being a huge gamer himself — that he could find enough talent to feed the program, which now has 94 scholarship athletes (between $12,000 and $19,000 worth of tuition is covered) spread across five video game titles.

The North American Collegiate Championship 2015 was serious business.

A Long Time Coming: Wrestler Logan Stieber Ready For First Senior Worlds
It was almost exactly a year ago when Stieber earned one of the biggest wins of his career. He knocked off 2014 world champion Soslan Ramonov of Russia at a Golden Grand Prix event in Azerbaijan. Ramonov went on to win an Olympic gold medal at 65 kg. this past August in Rio. Stieber fell short of making the U.S. Olympic Team and went to Rio as a training partner for the U.S team. “It was good to have the opportunity to be at the Olympics and see what it was like,” he said. “It made it all real.” Stieber watched former Ohio State teammate Kyle Snyder become the youngest Olympic wrestling champion in U.S. history at age 20 in Rio. “That was inspiring,” Stieber said. “Kyle’s always working and always looking to improve. He’s a great wrestler.” Stieber, who lives and trains in Columbus, Ohio, was dominant in winning the non-Olympic worlds qualifier Nov. 11 in New York City. “It was my first freestyle tournament where I put everything together,” he said. “I had good offense and good defense, and I wrestled smart. I’m confident I can win at any weight class when I wrestle well like that.” U.S. national freestyle coach Bill Zadick, a 2006 world champion, spent time recently working with Stieber in preparing for the non-Olympic worlds. “Logan has been an elite level competitor all of his life,” Zadick said. “He has wrestled many of these athletes and beaten many of them. I expect him to take the fight to his opponents, to be determined when he’s on the mat and bring a high intellect to his strategy.

Logan Stieber (R) will be making his Non-Olympic Weight World Championships debut in Budapest, Hungary. Tony Rotundo/

Mind Over Body: Playing in the N.F.L. at 38
That is the essence of Newman’s preparation, the hours he invests scouring film, surveying weaknesses, searching for clues that will sustain his value to the Vikings. His pursuit consumes him, and no matter how often he talks on FaceTime with his “kind of girlfriend” in California, in those spare moments away from his teammates — or the restaurant staff members who know him, or the apartment building concierge who invited him to watch the Vikings play, not realizing Newman would be busy that day — loneliness still descends. “Football’s like my escape,” Newman said. “It’s my everything.” He yawned. His tablet needed recharging, and so did he. Newman has many hobbies — golfing, traveling, flying drones — but as a budding oenophile, he is perhaps most passionate about wine: strictly red, usually cabernet sauvignon or pinot noir. When he drifts off to sleep, exhausted, his mind is blank, he said, blissfully uncluttered by routes and formations, quarterbacks and receivers, his football mortality. Except for one thing. “I just think about grapes,” he said.

Newman often wears eyeglasses in his football study sessions. “I want that clarity,” he said. Credit Tim Gruber for The New York Times teams with star athletes like Kobe, Neymar and Serena Williams to promote computer science education
Some of the world’s most famous sports stars are putting their support behind computer science education. Top athletes like Kobe Bryant, Neymar Jr., Serena Williams, and a handful of others appear in a new video for, which is helping put on the annual “Hour of Code” campaign this week. They encourage students to study computer science and provide some positive reinforcement about the learning process. co-founder Hadi Partovi told GeekWire that the athletes are role models for students around the world. “The reason all these athletes are supporting the campaign is because they recognize that computer science and coding are foundational for a well-rounded education,” he said. “And in a world where opportunity increasingly feels limited only to a few, the best jobs in the world should be accessible to every child, regardless of their gender or race or where they’re born.” also today just released a new sports-themed coding tutorial it developed in partnership with the NBA and WNBA that helps teach kids the basics of computer programming. The lesson lets students create their own basketball, football, soccer, or hockey games with their favorite logos.
(Video,  Caption: International champions and gold medalists encourage you to try the Hour of Code. Just give it a try. Code your own sports game at

Amputee travels country to inspire disabled basketballers
The 28-year-old Filosa was born with a genetic disorder that made his left leg brittle, and after years of surgeries to correct the issue, the limb had to be amputated in 2013 when he was 25. The loss of a leg was a major blow to the sports fanatic, but he did some research and a few months after losing his leg, Filosa attended an Amp 1 game at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan. Seeing the players crush the competition inspired him to take his first steps toward joining the team, said Booker. “He came up to us after the game and said, ‘I know I don’t even have a prosthetic yet — and I don’t care how much work it takes — but I’m going to be part of Amp 1,’” said Booker. “And ever since Patty joined he’s taken the helm of what we do here in the city.” Filosa got his prosthesis — a polymer lower leg with the logo of his all-time-favorite sports franchise, The Mets — and joined the team last year. Since then he has visited more than 30 schools in five different states to show kids that losing a limb cannot block success or happiness.

Lost a limb gained a purpose: Bensonhurster Patrick Filosa lost his leg in 2013 and has since traveled across the borough, city, and country with Amp 1 — a basketball team of amputees. Photo by Caleb Caldwell

Retired NFL player owns a grocery store in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, food desert
Legette was drafted by the New Orleans Saints in 1992, went on to play for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the San Francisco 49ers, and made New Orleans his home. More than 150 homes and two decades later, he decided to expand his community efforts by investing in the grocery store business. The store is thriving while meeting a need. The 46-year-old entrepreneur has created more than 20 jobs in the community and he wants to create more while encouraging entrepreneurship, by extending his own knowledge and sharing his story. Legette started his business, Legette Construction Inc., after six years in the NFL. Through the company, he was able to help low-income families and first-time buyers acquire homes and save money. “I would create the land,” Legette said. “I would team up with the community development corporation, whether it would be Jefferson Harris Community Development Corp. or one of the local nonprofits. We would build subdivision homes throughout communities and put people in homes for the first time.”

This Historic Hockey League Is Fighting For Survival
That’s why the NWHL players have taken it upon themselves to spread the word about the importance of women’s hockey. Anya Battaglino, a practice player for the Connecticut Whale, said many players coach youth camps and private lessons, as well as maintain an active social media presence to engage with fans. “The salary cuts are tough, but we’re not out here playing because we get a measly 10 grand,” Battaglino said before the game against the Pride. “It’s for her.” She pointed to a young girl wearing a Boston Pride jersey who clutched a poster printed with a team roster. The girl would later analyze the poster with a friend, and the pair spoke of the players by their first names, while bragging about how they’d been able to take selfies with some of their hockey heroes after previous games. “Player accessibility is a huge part of any minor pro sports league,” Rylan said. “Having that ability to have that one-on-one fan interaction is a large reason why many of the fans come back.”

Ashley Johnston of the New York Riveters meets a NWHL fan.

New York Met Curtis Granderson’s #GrandGiving Initiative
The holiday season is by and large the most charitable time of year. Donors readily donate to organizations close to their hearts, and hunger relief tends to be a popular cause, perhaps because the holidays are centered on shared meals. Granderson has capitalized on this trend by establishing the Grand Giving initiative, hosting back-to-back celebrity fundraising galas to benefit his grocery partners. A Night of Grand Giving is supplemented by various other donation streams like “Check Out to Help Out” and social media fundraising. Funds from the Grand Giving campaign supply Thanksgiving day meals, as well as access to meals all year round. In 2013, Granderson donated 30,000 meals, and in two years he increased donations to 500,000. This year, the goal is to supply 1 million meals to individuals in need, and Granderson is more than halfway there. He has spent the days following his fundraisers personally delivering and serving meals to families around the city. Granderson has established himself as one of MLB’s most generous athletes, solidifying that reputation by receiving the 2016 Roberto Clemente Award, given to the player that best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and team contribution.

Twitch hosting an eSports marathon at the White House to raise healthcare awareness
Besides playing games, the gamers will also talk about the importance of healthcare and share their own experiences. They will also encourage people to sign up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.…Last year, the eSports League released a public service announcement calling on American gamers to sign up for health insurance before the enrollment deadline. The burgeoning eSports industry is estimated to be worth nearly $882m (£699m), according to market intelligence firm SuperData’s “Esports – The 2016 Report”. The firm expects the industry to reach a value of $1.23bn by 2019 with a global audience of 303 million people. “We appreciate how the White House has recognized the power and passion of our community,” said Brian Petrocelli, product marketing manager at Twitch. “Their desire to present the Competitive Gaming Event to promote health coverage enrollment exemplifies how they continue to have their hand on the pulse of the younger generation. We share their enthusiasm since we also see the value of health coverage and encourage everyone to explore their options.”

The White House is hosting a four-hour eSports marathon that will be live-streamed on Twitch from the White House to promote health care awareness.

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