Sports Doing Good Newsletter, #249

Feb. 5 – Feb. 11, 2017

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

  1. We Can Do Better: Let’s Give Fans and Sponsors What They Want
  2. Athletes for Human Rights, Peace and Inclusion
  3. Refugees in Indonesia Turn to Soccer to Fill Lives on Hold
  4. Here’s how a guy from Canton ended up tossing a ball to Lady Gaga at the Super Bowl
  5. Get Back on the Rock
  6. Her Team Is 0-23, but She Might Deserve Coach of the Year Honors
  7. Like Father, Like Son, Like Granny? A Case for Underhand Free Throws
  8. Congrats, Founder, You’re Joining the Sixers!
  9. Stop What You’re Doing and Watch This Epic Girls Skateboarding Video
  10. Mike Ilitch’s passion earned loyalty across sports in Detroit

No Longer a Man’s Game (by Carolina Morace) (The Players’ Tribune)
Atlanta Falcons Increase Sustainability Efforts (Beyond Sport)
Up2Us Sports Celebrates National Girls and Women in Sports Day (Up2Us)
Making Peace a Reality – A Colombian Example (Peace and Sport)
Wake Forest legend on welcoming challenges, focusing on fundamentals (NAYS)

We came across the title of an article that could do nothing but grab our attention: “Her Team Is 0-23, but She Might Deserve Coach of the Year Honors.” Say what? How could a team, no matter the sport, or the level, lose 23 straight? Well, after reading the article from the New York Times, it made sense. The story of Chicago State is a tough one to swallow and one that many could say is not “sports doing good.” We include the story to highlight the dedication of coach Angela Jackson and her players and the school’s commitment to use sport to help rebuild the school. It will be hard and there is absolutely no guarantee of success. However, as the team chases its first victory, it will hopefully attract the support of those who can help the school survive.

The other stories we are happy to feature this week include: a movement to use sport to make strong gains in the area of social responsibility; the power and influence of athletes to be part of the sport and social good environment; how refugees in Indonesia are finding a sense of place and purpose in the game of futsal; a behind-the-scenes look at conclusion to Lady Gaga’s incredible performance at the Super Bowl; a first-person account from a young female rock climber of her connection to the sport; how shooting underhand may be the saving grace for a host of bad free-throw shooters; how the Philadelphia 76ers are dipping their toe into the startup world; an inspirational video speaking to the emergence of young, self-confident girls in India; and recognition of Detroit Tigers and Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch for his unyielding commitment to his teams, its fans, and the city of Detroit, upon his passing this week.

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So enjoy. And have a good week.

We Can Do Better: Let’s Give Fans and Sponsors What They Want
Things are, however, starting to change, driven in the main by examples like Super Bowl 50 and expectations of the corporate sector who wield great influence over sports rights holders given the importance to the business of sports of their sponsorship dollars. More and more purpose-full corporations are now starting to look for ways to activate their purpose through their sports sponsorship programs, and rights holders that aren’t able to help them authentically do so will start to lose out. Per the 16th annual IEG Properties Sponsorship Decision-Makers Survey, sponsors listed “Showcase Community / Social Responsibility” as the third most important factor when evaluating sponsorship properties. 38% of sponsors scored this factor a 9 or 10 in this survey which is significant given that the factor did not appear amongst sponsors top ten objectives in the 2015 survey. This move towards purpose is further highlighted in PWC’s 2016 US Sports Outlook report. PWC projects that brand sponsorship of community relations or foundation activities will increase from 1% to 5% of total sport sponsorship spend in the USA by 2020?—?almost $1B?—?as the industry’s brand partners face increasing stakeholder scrutiny of marketing and hospitality spend resulting in alternate methods of engagement targeted to preserve relationships and brand affiliation with sport. Examples of corporate led purpose-full sponsorship are starting to emerge.

Kevin Durant is one of several NBA/WNBA ambassadors for BBVA’s Bright Futures campaign. (Source: BBVA)

Athletes for Human Rights, Peace and Inclusion
The time is now for athletes to wear the uniforms of global citizens. Athletes can now act as inclusion ambassadors. Athletes can now speak truth to power. Athletes can now advocate for freedom of speech. Athletes can now become allies. Athletes can now support human rights. People need not suffer the pain of exclusion, stigmas and labels. Excluding others and creating borders are unconscionable affronts to human dignity. We do not want this as athletes, we do not want this in sport. We do not want this in our world. We need waves of athletes advocating for human rights, peace, justice and inclusion to circle our locker-rooms, our stadiums, and our local and global communities. Athletes need to have active and ongoing places at the table to address human rights in and through sport. Athletes also need the support of sport administrators, fans, and sponsors to uplift them and their message of inclusion. Athletes around the world have been called off the bench, off the sidelines and into the starting line-ups as advocates for inclusivity, justice and humanity. Athletes can become living examples of the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, who said we must remain vigilant “until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

Refugees in Indonesia Turn to Soccer to Fill Lives on Hold
Refugees in Cisarua are passionate about futsal. The game is accessible and affordable as teams can pool the cost of renting sports grounds. With lots of free time due to lack of education and employment opportunities, the futsal grounds of Cisarua are always full of refugees, both young and old.  “Futsal keeps us busy, so we are not sitting at home and doing nothing. Sports also help us stay away from many problems,” Mobin said. The game is popular among male and female refugees alike, many of whom aspire to become professional soccer players once they are resettled in another country. Girls started to play futsal at the informal schools set up by the refugee community and, with the support of their peers, gradually grew more comfortable playing in public grounds. Now, futsal has become one way that female refugees from conservative communities in Afghanistan can freely participate in public life… After each match, organizers posted the scores and a detailed breakdown of the match on Facebook, and the tournament built up an online following among the local refugee community as well as among the refugees’ relatives back home. Many players also posted their game highlights on social media, allowing them to show friends and family elsewhere that they are still leading productive lives.

Here’s how a guy from Canton ended up tossing a ball to Lady Gaga at the Super Bowl
“I was nervous I suppose. We had practiced it so many times, I felt like I knew where I had to put the football for her to catch it” said Mann. “But there was one point during the show, where they tell everybody in the stadium to turn their flashlights on their phone as a way to light up the stadium, and when that happened I realized just how big 70,000 people can look. Then I decided at that point to put my head down and worry about what I had to do, and not look at the crowd. That would have psyched me out a bit.” Not to mention everyone watching on television. “Ya, I was desperately trying not to think about the 112 million people watching at home,” Mann added with a laugh. It was no easy task, but the play went off without a hitch. “I had to throw it up and over the foam pit, towards her to try to lead her into the jump,” said Mann. “I tried to hit her right in the stomach so she could trap it against her body.” It was not necessarily a football throw, because Mann ended up making the pass underhanded.

Get Back on the Rock
Six days after I had first attempted the problem, my parents took me to get climbing shoes. We didn’t really have enough money for luxuries, but they could tell that climbing was quickly becoming an obsession for me. I went back to the rock the next day, new shoes in hand. I strapped on my shoes, placed my hands and feet on the wall, and raced up to the top. After I climbed down, I ran up to my dad, pulled him close to the rock, and showed him how I climbed the problem. I’m pretty sure I showed him 20 more times. I was so proud of myself. Two years later, when I won the American Bouldering Series Youth National Championship in the girls under-11 category, I became the youngest person to ever climb a V10 when I scaled the Power of Silence, an outdoor boulder problem at Hueco Tanks State Park and Historic Site, in Texas. When I was 10, I started learning about fractions in school. I also became the youngest person ever to climb a V13. That was when I noticed some articles popping up about me. All of a sudden publications like The Guardian, The New York Times and The New Yorker wanted to interview me. People would come up to me at climbing competitions and ask me for my autograph. The first one I ever signed was on a fleece jacket. The woman didn’t just want my signature. She wanted an inspirational message. Wait a second, I thought. I’m inspiring?

“Gender doesn’t matter in climbing, and women can be just as good as men. I’ve climbed routes and problems some grown men can’t even do.”

Her Team Is 0-23, but She Might Deserve Coach of the Year Honors
Chicago State officials said they had no intention of dropping sports or leaving Division I. Instead, the university is exploring the idea of adding a non-scholarship football team, along with a marching band and club sports, in an attempt to attract more students from the Chicago public schools and enhance the university’s brand. “Sports are going to play a central role in the revitalization of Chicago State University,” said the Rev. Marshall E. Hatch Sr., the trustees’ chairman. To drop sports would be a “travesty,” denying opportunity for underserved students who might not have another chance to attend college, said Jackson, the coach. A native of Detroit who played basketball at Old Dominion University, she called Chicago State a “diamond in the rough” and said she had remained there through hard times because “sometimes you find your purpose in life.” “We serve an African-American community, and I enjoy being the bridge from teenager to young adult,” Jackson said. “I think it’s important — those four to five years in those young ladies’ lives are important.”

Angela Jackson, Chicago State’s coach, during a timeout on Feb. 4. Credit Kristen Norman for The New York Times

Like Father, Like Son, Like Granny? A Case for Underhand Free Throws
“The beauty of the underhand shot is that the underhand shot is a smooth motion, and it’s easier to become consistent with it if you want to change your habits,” Silverberg said. He added: “If the person is maybe a 40, 50 percent shooter in the free throw, changing to an underhand can make a lot of sense. The underhand has that advantage that it’s not a bad option for a coach with a player who is really a bad shooter.” And yet, it remains almost impossible to sell the shot as a serious option. Canyon and Rick Barry have reached out to a few N.B.A. players asking if they would like to learn to shoot underhanded and possibly use the technique in games. So far, they have had no takers. “I don’t know whether it’s their egos or they’re just not willing to change,” Canyon Barry said. “It’s crazy.”

Florida guard Canyon Barry, Rick Barry’s son, shooting underhanded in a game in December. He has been honing the technique since he was in high school. Credit Joe Skipper/Associated Press

Congrats, Founder, You’re Joining the Sixers!
In exchange for extending an invitation to join the Innovation Lab, the Sixers organization takes an equity stake in each company. In some cases, it plans to invest, and it has a fund of several million dollars to play with (the exact amount, however, is not for public consumption). Beyond that, it’s the wild west. “There’s literally no fixed deal,” Berger says. “Dylan came in August 22, and his term ended December 16, but Dylan’s staying. We’re not charging extra equity. Our model’s going to be very different: Come in, stay as long as you want, as long as we can help you continue to grow and as long as it makes sense for your company to be in the lab.” Jack Elkins, director of innovation for the Orlando Magic, predicts that more and more sports teams will start running their own startup programs. “If people are getting used to something in the world, they expect it with their professional sports teams as well,” he says. “Teams are not inoculated from what’s happening to all organizations.”… Maybe the Sixers would have ended up launching an accelerator no matter what, carried along by the tides of the moment. Maybe it didn’t matter that they were on a multi-year losing streak. But maybe the team was instead pushed to do something much bolder than it would have if it had been racking up championships. Call it the loser’s advantage: just when things look bleakest, you take the bigger gamble?—?and it pays off. Instead of lagging behind, you find yourself in the lead. For once.

Inside the Sixers’ new training complex, which is also home to the team’s startup accelerator.

Stop What You’re Doing and Watch This Epic Girls Skateboarding Video
When director Sasha Rainbow heard “Alpha Female,” the latest single from Wild Beasts’ album Boy King, she immediately thought of India where an explosive skateboarding scene is empowering a generation of young women. “In places like Afghanistan, Cambodia, and India, skating has not been solidified as a male sport and, therefore, has had a massive cultural impact, teaching values about self-empowerment through skateboarding,” Rainbow explained in a statement. The video follows Atita Verghese, India’s first professional female skateboarder, along with skateboarders from Girl Skate India and the Holystoked Skate Crew. “Sasha told me that in India time has a different quality; it slows down when you move through it as if made of thicker stuff,” Wild Beasts’ singer Hayden Thorpe explained. “The skateboarding girls and women in ‘Alpha Female’ appear to have found a sublime vehicle for slicing through time more quickly. They are in a hurry, speeding time up, pulling their generation along.”

Mike Ilitch’s passion earned loyalty across sports in Detroit
In hockey it was no different, as Motown experienced a wealth of success during his stewardship, including four Stanley Cup championships. The Red Wings remain a pillar of consistency: The team has not missed the playoffs since the 1989-90 season, a mind-boggling streak that shows the organization’s commitment to excellence. The Wings have been a beacon for their superior scouting, deft drafting and enviable depth, both among players and hockey executives. A Red Wings pedigree counted for something within hockey’s collegial atmosphere, and that reputation began at the top. The professional sports landscape is vastly different now from when Ilitch bought the Red Wings in 1982 (he would purchase the Tigers a decade later), and his longevity provided a cornerstone of stability and steadiness for fans in an age in which ownership has become more transient and much more transactional. Ilitch’s dedication, not just to his beloved teams, but also to the town itself, helped bolster Detroit’s profile as a vibrant blue-collar city with a fervent and loyal fan base that expected — and deserved — excellence. It wasn’t just business to Mr. I. Detroit sports were his passion, his love. And that will be his lasting legacy.

Mike Ilitch’s reign as an owner of the Tigers and Red Wings helped keep Detroit in the postseason mix in baseball and hockey. Tom Szczerbowski/USA TODAY Sports

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