Sports Doing Good Newsletter, #248

Jan. 29 – Feb. 4, 2017

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

  1. How one Patriots Super Bowl ring gave new life to 24 orphans in Thailand
  2. How I Learned To Love My Body As A Female Athlete
  3. Flyers’ Wayne Simmonds is trying to add some color to hockey
  4. Super Bowl 51: How the Gatorade Shower Became Tradition 30 Years Ago
  5. An Evolving Sports City, Atlanta Chases a Championship
  6. Another Knicks Novelty: Ron Baker’s Journey from Farm to Madison Square Garden
  7. Meet Kobe Buffalomeat, the Illinois State signee whose name captivated Twitter
  8. Tottenham Hotspur Celebrate 10 Year Impact
  9. The Misunderstood Genius of Russell Westbrook
  10. 12 CEOs Who Prove Playing Youth Sports Leads To Greatness

#ChangeOurGame campaign to boost women’s sport in Australian state (Beyond Sport)
The Coaching Honor of a Lifetime (by Jeff Van Gundy) (The Players’ Tribune)
Maya’s Memories: Olympic champ reflects on youth sports experiences (NAYS)
Skateboarding Unites Communities in Ethiopia (Beyond Sport)
Protecting Opportunities for Girls and Women in Sports (Laureus)

One of the great improvements we have seen in the world of sports over the past few decades is the increase in the number and types of opportunities there are for girls and women, from grade school to high school to college and even at the pro level. Such opportunities have provided immeasurable benefits to these athletes. The benefits extend, of course, off the field in personal, social, and economic ways as well.

Two of the stories that we feature this week touch upon this progress. One is by a collegiate student-athlete who has fought a battle many girls have to go through and that involves body-shaming and body-acceptance. She speaks to the pressures she felt of having to look a certain way despite being an athlete, how loving her body for some reason could not align with society’s expectation of what “beautiful” was and how she has come to happily accept who she is. The second story we feature speaks to the incredible benefits that sport provided to women who now populate some of the most esteemed positions in the world of business. These former high school and college athletes all count sport as being a key part of their development and advocate that opportunities to participate be there for girls in bigger ways in the future.

We also have a couple of Super Bowl-related stories on this, the unofficial sports holiday of the year. The first story is a wonderful recounting of how a former Super Bowl champion donated his prized Super Bowl ring to raise money that eventually helped build an orphanage in Thailand. The other story is a look at a place I used to live in for four years, Atlanta, and how the city’s sports “personality” is evolving to embrace its pro sports teams after for so long being a hub of college sports.

The balance of the ten stories this week include: NHL star Wayne Simmonds and his goal to raise the profile of hockey for minority youngsters; the birth of the “Gatorade shower”; young NBA player Ron Baker who is now making a name for himself in the world’s biggest sports market; a young man whose unique name – Kobe Buffalomeat – is helping to shine a light on him and his special family; EPL side Tottenham Hotspur and its great body of community-oriented activities over the past 10 years; and Russell Westbrook, one of the NBA’s most dynamic players and individuals.

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So enjoy. And have a good week.

How one Patriots Super Bowl ring gave new life to 24 orphans in Thailand
No, it wasn’t an easy choice. Cherry had three tackles in that 20-17 victory over the Rams, including one on a punt for a 1-yard loss. He poured a river of blood, sweat and tears into that journey, which he called, “something unreal, something I’d never experienced in the NFL. Just the most physically taxing season that you could put your body through.” The backup safety said coach Bill Belichick never let up during that stunning 2001 run, not even for half a day. The grind made the ring more special. But Cherry had read about Cain and Abel, and he decided his sacrifice needed to be more like Abel’s. “No disrespect to the other two rings,” he said. “I easily could’ve given the second or third one, and nobody would’ve said anything. But my thought was, ‘If I’m going to give anything that’s sacrificial and supposed to represent my faith in God, I’d better give my best and what I care about the most.'” Now he had to figure out what, exactly, to do with his most cherished, 14-karat piece of white gold. Cherry ended up running into Tom Brady and his family at a benefit concert, and Brady’s sister, Nancy, who has done extensive work for African causes, put the former Patriot in touch with an organizer who could maximize the value of the ring. They decided on a raffle that wouldn’t exclude the average fan, who is usually overwhelmed by the heavy corporate hitters at an auction.

How I Learned To Love My Body As A Female Athlete
I spent the rest of that year attempting different diets, avoiding certain outfits, and despising the athletic lifts I had to do every day in practice. For countless months I was focusing on my body, trying to be skinnier, and trying to eat less than what my body required to perform. However, after two semesters enduring this misery, I finally realized something that all female athletes must come to on their own: There is nothing wrong with my body. I had a firm stomach. My legs were rock solid. And my arms were defined. I could sprint 100 meters in 14.60 seconds. I could single-leg squat 130 pounds, and I could hold a plank for 4 minutes. All of this didn’t make me any less feminine. I was still that healthy-looking girl, but now I had the build of an athlete. What I hadn’t understood in the dressing room was that I was strong. I didn’t know that strong was something I could be. From that point on, my outlook changed. Just because you are not a certain dress size, or weigh more than 120 pounds, does not mean you’re not beautiful. Just because your body needs to consume 4,000 calories a day, does not mean you are fat. And, most importantly, girls who compete to win the national championship will not, and physically cannot, look the same as models clouding our Instagram feeds. So, as a female athlete playing volleyball for the University of Southern California, I finally realized what it meant to be a beautiful woman. And to my pleasure, it was nothing that society had told me to be.

Flyers’ Wayne Simmonds is trying to add some color to hockey
Enjoying arguably his greatest season ever, Simmonds wants to be revered as more than a player. He wants to be thought of as a role model, and he believes he’s on his way to becoming one. An African-Canadian, Simmonds is an oddity. According to the National Hockey League, only 16 players of African descent have played in a game this season. “I’m playing the game I love,” he said. “For me, I’m just trying to set an example for kids who are like me, who have been in my situation. They can look up to me as an example. If I can make it, they can make it, too. When I was a young kid, I looked up at people as inspiration. Willie O’Ree was the first African [-Canadian] to play. He was my goal.” Simmonds knows his history and is aware that he’s earning a lofty place in NHL lore. He’s playing well enough to earn an All-Star team berth. His quiet but confident play and demeanor stands out on the rink. It also stands out away from the arena.

PHILADELPHIA, PA – DECEMBER 08: Wayne Simmonds #17 of the Philadelphia Flyers skates against the Edmonton Oilers on December 8, 2016 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images

Super Bowl 51: How the Gatorade Shower Became Tradition 30 Years Ago
So after the Giants win, Carson says Burt exacted his revenge on Parcells by dousing him in a shower of the electrolyte-filled beverage. In the broadcast booth, Madden and Summerall were in disbelief. “Jim Burt takes the whole bucket and pours it on Bill Parcells’ head… and that’s what you get when you win!” they can be heard marveling. “I was the only one who had the guts to do it without knowing what his reaction was going to be,” Burt later said. Carson remembers Burt asking him to do it together because Carson and Parcells had such a good relationship. “He can’t be mad at me if you do it with me,” Carson recalls Burt saying. But Parcells’ reaction was the best you could hope for: the coach just smiled. “It’s fun,” Parcells told United Press International in 1987. “It’s not all life and death.” Burt may be credited with dumping the first bucket, but it’s Carson who ran with it during the Giants unforgettable 1986 season, turning it into the tradition it is today. By then, Burt thought the act had lost its originality but Carson kept it going. Carson says that Parcells was incredibly superstitious so once the thirst quencher was dumped on the coach’s head after the first win of the season, he felt like he had to do it for each successive win.

Photograph by Focus on Sport/Getty Images

An Evolving Sports City, Atlanta Chases a Championship
Pellom McDaniels, who played the final two of his eight N.F.L. seasons with the Falcons, suggested that a victory would register a psychological impact — an acknowledgment of the city’s trajectory, from aspirational to grown-up and mature. During the 1996 Olympics, and in the years that followed, Atlanta seemed eager to convince others that it was cosmopolitan, sophisticated, worth exploring. Even as it grapples with its identity now, reckoning with gentrification and redevelopment forces that are at once eroding and improving neighborhoods, Atlanta projects a different image — of comfort and confidence in its direction, whatever that is. “It would be almost like a beacon,” said McDaniels, now the curator of African-American collections at Emory, said of a potential title. “That we’re working together as a community, and the success the Falcons have experienced is our success — that we’re doing something right.”

The skyline of Atlanta, a hub of hip-hop, college football and civil rights history, a lure for transplants and the South’s de facto capital. Credit Prince Williams/WireImage, via Getty Images

Another Knicks Novelty: Ron Baker’s Journey from Farm to Madison Square Garden
Baker is routinely among the first Knicks players out on the floor before games, where he can be seen three hours before tipoff working with assistant coaches Joshua Longstaff and Dave Bliss on pick-and-roll reads and other point guard fundamentals. (Baker was a shooting guard in college.) All that sweat, coupled with his sarcastic and gregarious personality, has made him a favorite among teammates. “Sometimes when I walk into the locker room, Carmelo (Anthony) will start talking like a cowboy and be like, ‘You from Kaaansaas, home of James Naaaaismith,'” Baker said with a drawl. “It’s gotten more hysterical as I’ve gotten to know the guys.” Fans, too, are finding themselves drawn to Baker, the latest NBA bench player to morph into a crowd-pleaser. Games at MSG now regularly include calls from fans—no doubt yearning for a second coming of Linsanity, or at least a new Langston Galloway—for Hornacek to put Baker in the game. A loud ovation frequently greets the announcing of his name. Subtle chants of “M-V-P” can occasionally be heard when he steps up to the foul line.

Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Meet Kobe Buffalomeat, the Illinois State signee whose name captivated Twitter
By the time Buffalomeat walked out of that second period class, the 6’ 7”, 285-pound offensive tackle was trending nationwide. He was name-checked on ESPN. Every major sports site published a story about him. A producer from Jimmy Kimmel Live would call Kobe’s mother Paula later in the day to set up a potential appearance on Thursday’s show. All because of a name produced by his father’s lineage and his mother’s basketball fandom. The name Buffalomeat comes from the Cheyenne-Arapaho tribe in Oklahoma. Kobe’s father Ray is half Cheyenne-Arapaho and half Cherokee. Paula is half Choctaw and half white. And while the juxtaposition of a name that also describes a type of beef with the name of a meat frequently substituted for beef is a key reason for the fascination, Kobe isn’t named after the beef. He’s named after the basketball player who was named after the beef. Joe “Jellybean” Bryant chose his son’s name after seeing the Japanese beef—named after the city where the cattle are raised—on a menu. Kobe Buffalomeat was born in January 1999, during Kobe Bryant’s third season as a Los Angeles Laker. “I hadn’t really heard the name, and I liked it,” Paula said So that’s what we went with.” His middle name? Wayne, after Paula’s father.

Tottenham Hotspur Celebrate 10 Year Impact
Tottenham Hotspur is celebrating 10 years of impact with the release of a new film that takes a closer look into the incredible yet often unseen work that it delivers to address key social issues within its community. A decade since the Club’s award-winning charitable body, the Tottenham Hotspur Foundation, was officially launched and focuses on 10 extraordinary projects currently being delivered and the compelling stories of 10 local people who have benefitted from the ground-breaking work. Over the past 10 years, more than 2.75 million opportunities have been created through innovative projects focused on driving employability, improving the educational attainment of local young people, promoting community development within some of North London’s most deprived communities, encouraging healthier lifestyles and providing access to sport for people of all abilities.

The Misunderstood Genius of Russell Westbrook
Westbrook is now playing against history. The Holy Grail of triple-doubling is not just to pile up a ridiculous number of them but to actually average a triple-double for an entire season. This has only happened once, in 1961-62, when Oscar Robertson averaged 30.8 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 11.4 assists — numbers straight from the mouth of God. Until recently, his feat seemed as untouchable as DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak or Wilt’s 100-point game. Matching Robertson’s record is doubly tricky because not only was he an aberrant superfreak, he also happened to play in an unusually fast era, when teams flew up and down the court generating extra possessions in which to rack up gaudy statistics. Today’s players are limited by the modern game’s slow pace. Even LeBron James, the greatest player of his generation and someone whose gifts seem precision-engineered to produce triple-doubles — size for rebounding, vision for assists, speed and agility for scoring — has never come close to averaging one for an entire season. That’s how basketball works: There are unavoidable trade-offs, pragmatic allocations of resources. Averaging a triple-double is like having a helicopter that is also a boat that can also write the Great American Novel. It is more than just an engineering impossibility — it is an existential cheat.

Russell Westbrook, superelite athlete with a highly unusual mind, dunking against the Sacramento Kings in January. Credit Rocky Widner/NBAE, via Getty Images

12 CEOs Who Prove Playing Youth Sports Leads To Greatness
Title IX is now 45-years-old. The impact that the law has had on women’s sports is nothing short of tremendous. It’s no secret that leaders in the boardroom and those on the field have a lot in common. Leading a team to victory through communication, determination, and hard work are all traits of both effective athletes and CEOs. A recent study highlights this athlete-CEO collection showing more than 50 percent of female executives were once college athletes. According to the Harvard Business Review, the study by the EY Women Athletes Business Network and espnW “surveyed more than 400 female executives in five countries.” They found that “52 percent” of those top executives played sports at the “college or university level.” For women’s sports day, GOOD’s highlighting the plethora of high-powered CEOs who owe some of their extraordinary drive, leadership, and stamina to their time competing as an undergraduate at their alma maters. Check out a few of the greats in the slideshow above.

Mary Schapiro, former chair of the SEC and now chair of the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB), played field hockey in college at Franklin and Marshall College in Pennsylvania. She’s been adamant about the role of sports in her life. “I don’t want to overemphasize the role of sports, but I think team sports have a lot to do with ending up where I have, at various points throughout my career.”

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