Sports Doing Good Newsletter, #252

Feb. 26 – March 4, 2017

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

  1. Women’s Lacrosse Players Lost Their College, Not Their Team
  2. Kansas City Chiefs’ Dontari Poe Hosting ‘Shark Tank-Like’ Competition As Part Of Charity Event
  3. Athletes find second careers as stunt performers
  4. How Manchester United are leading the way when it comes to digital and commercial innovation in football
  5. Hockey Night in Canada, with Mr. Chapared Shot
  6. How The Sports Industry Pioneered Advances In The Innovation Economy
  7. How Bunkers In Baghdad Plays Golf To Support U.S. Troops
  8. How an 80-Year-Old Company and a 108-Year-Old Curse Are Energizing a 200-Year-Old Game
  9. Markelle Fultz Is the Big Man on Campus 2.0: Inside the Making of a Superstar
  10. The Athlete in Me Won’t Stop

Thoughts on the role of a funder (Laureus/Sport and Dev)
Life, Hockey and Everything In Between (by Christian Hanson) (The Players’ Tribune)
Beyond Sport Global Awards Align With Sustainable Development Goals (Beyond Sport)
Up2Us Sports Female Ambassadors are History Makers (Up2Us)
Athletes leading social change through sports (Peace and Sport)

Todd Balf, a former senior editor at Outside magazine, wrote a very moving piece that we include in this week’s newsletter. The title of the article, “The Athlete in Me Won’t Stop,” captures Todd’s resilience in the face of his serious medical condition. If it only was such resilience that was needed to get Todd up and running, he would be out there, leading an adventure-filled life. But it is not, and that is part of the heartbreak one feels reading Todd’s words. With that being said, it is fair to ask why Todd’s piece is featured at Sports Doing Good. Todd’s predicament can be seen as tragic, not “good.” But that is not how we read the situation. Sports Doing Good is not about ignoring or denying reality in sport. It understands reality and says we should make an effort to find good even in the toughest situations. Todd’s piece took a lot of courage to write and no doubt will connect with those who have such challenges or knows someone who does.

The other stories we are happy to feature include: the travels of the NYIT women’s lacrosse team; Kansas City Chiefs player Dontari Poe and his positive off-the-field efforts; the post-athletic career that has many making their move in TV and the movies; Manchester United’s global vision for its “content;” trailblazing Canadian hockey announcer Harnarayan Singh; the sports industry’s role as innovation/change agent; the success of sports non-profit Bunkers In Baghdad; how Topps is helping to keep tradition-rich baseball fresh in the eyes of its fans; and University of Washington student-athlete and future NBA player, Markelle Fultz.

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So enjoy. And have a good week.

Women’s Lacrosse Players Lost Their College, Not Their Team
“It’s a pretty ambitious thing to absorb an entire team in one shot,” Bailey said. Bailey arranged for the players to take a tour of the campus before deciding if it was a fit for them. They all arrived together — players, coaches, parents, administrators, admissions personnel, academic support and compliance personnel — and traveled as a group. Many of the players were majoring in education, a program N.Y.I.T. does not offer, so they needed placement into compatible substitutes. For some, like Znaniecki, it will require an additional year to make up for credits lost in the transfer. But, she said, the ability to stick together as a team overwhelmed any concerns she had about adding an extra year. “I think the way we ended our season at Dowling, we were on a high,” Znaniecki said. “We had such great team chemistry. We weren’t ready to leave each other. It felt like we were graduating, but we weren’t ready for that.”

New York Institute of Technology’s women’s lacrosse team enters the season ranked 15th. The team has 14 players from Dowling College, which last year finished 17-4 and won its first-ever N.C.A.A. tournament game. Credit Christopher Gregory for The New York Times

Kansas City Chiefs’ Dontari Poe Hosting ‘Shark Tank-Like’ Competition As Part Of Charity Event
During the NFL offseason, Kansas City Chiefs defensive tackle Dontari Poe is holding the second iteration of his Poe Man’s Challenge and bringing underserved youth together with local San Francisco startups for a Shark Tank-like competition and charity event on March 30. Poe, who is an investor in Silicon Valley healthcare startup Lab Sensor Solutions, is calling for local entrepreneurs and company founders to first volunteer to teach at-risk youth about entrepreneurship and how to pitch an early-stage company in front of judges. Those entrepreneurs who apply and are selected will teach a small group of two to three students about their company, with the students then having three minutes to pitch the entrepreneurs’ companies. The winning student team will receive scholarships from the Poe Man’s Dream Foundation. “It’s always intriguing in San Francisco, the kind of startups out there and the environment they have,” Poe said. “Kansas City was also really intriguing for me because that’s where I play, and second, you figure out how many startups are growing here.”

Athletes find second careers as stunt performers
“Take the action out of some of the big-summer blockbusters and you would lose the things that the audiences love,” said Frank Trigg, who fought twice for the UFC welterweight title and has worked extensively across film and television. “I have huge respect for every part of filmmaking. There should be recognition of our group and their talent. We are always pushing our limits and trying to make these movies even more spectacular.” Leonard says he believes that part of the Academy’s reticence stems from outdated theories about the “believability” of movies. “I could understand it 50 years ago,” Leonard added. “They wanted everyone to believe it was really John Wayne doing those moves. They might have felt acknowledging a stuntman took something away from that. But the audience is more aware and educated now. It’s not an excuse any longer.” Stunt performers have to keep themselves in the same kind of shape as during their athletic careers, with action scenes involving such daredevil moves as leaping from buildings, grueling fight segments and high-octane chases.

Jay Hieron is a former MMA fighter who has found a second career as a stunt performer. (Photo: Jay Hieron photo)

How Manchester United are leading the way when it comes to digital and commercial innovation in football
“Reaching, interacting and communicating with fans through digital and social is much better than traditional television, which is a very one-way street. On digital and social, clubs can easily build a strong, engaged community that truly feels connected to the club, in addition to receiving instant feedback from their fan communities. With traditional television, it is a very isolated experience for the fan and beyond very basic ratings, the club isn’t receiving much feedback on the content they produce.” The Sina Sports partnership allows Manchester United to access a broad scope of digital resources that Sina Sports is able to leverage as part of a larger digital ecosystem. While Sina Sports is quite large, it is just one channel under the umbrella of its parent company, Sina Corp. Sina Corp owns the largest open-platform social media platform in China, Sina Weibo, which is often referred to as “China’s Twitter.”.. It will take time, trial and error, and resources to fully activate this underlying commercial potential, but for Manchester United and other clubs who are making these investments now, they will very likely enjoy a significant monetary, and therefore competitive advantage over their rivals when it comes to recruiting and signing the best available talent in the near future.

Manchester United fans in China wait for their heroes. Getty

Hockey Night in Canada, with Mr. Chapared Shot
I’ve had a lot of big breaks in my life, but perhaps one of the biggest happened when I took a job as a casual reporter with CBC Radio back in Calgary. It was there that I met Hockey Night in Canada analyst Kelly Hrudey. This was 2005, just after I’d come home from my time with TSN in Toronto. Kelly, who lives in Calgary, would always be walking in and out of the CBC building there. Anytime I saw him, I’d grab him and chat about hockey. He was so gracious and willing to share advice. Then, in 2008, CBC started experimenting with ways to expand its Hockey Night audience by appealing to Canadians who spoke other languages. They tried Cantonese and Mandarin, and then decided to give Punjabi a shot. Marc Crawford, who had recently been let go as the coach of the Canucks and was working as a Hockey Night analyst, was someone who really advocated for it. He noted that Punjabi grandparents in the greater Vancouver area would recognize him at grocery stores and gas stations, and that he’d always see Punjabi kids playing ball hockey on the streets in Surrey. So when the CBC was looking for potential broadcasters, Kelly put in a good word for me. A few weeks later, I was on the air.

How The Sports Industry Pioneered Advances In The Innovation Economy
In fact, the intense competitiveness of the media markets in which football, baseball, and other sports operate has actually made them a hotbed of change. Look at data analytics: The Michael Lewis book Moneyball and its cinematic counterpart starring Brad Pitt was the first culture-wide illumination of the competitive business advantage that data can provide. While reeling off stats has always been a core part of sports-geek fandom, data analysis is now a central operating principle in sport that extends even to the high school level (as reflected in our highlighting of video-analytics platform Hudl in last year’s World’s Most Innovative Companies list). That cultural reach has supported a broader embrace of analytics, as the proliferation of data extends into all businesses…Sports businesses will need to continue to take risks in order to maintain relevance. They are on the front lines of where technology and culture collide. It’s a collision that won’t hurt your head, but it will encourage change.

[Source Photo: Flickr user The Library of Congress]

How Bunkers In Baghdad Plays Golf To Support U.S. Troops
“I was on a road trip with my brother-in-law and a good friend to the American League Championship Series in Cleveland (in 2007 when the Indians played the Boston Red Sox). And I said to them, this is the charity I want to start and this is the name I’m thinking about. And it hasn’t slowed down since then.” For non-profit group Bunkers in Baghdad, that was nearly 8 million golf balls and 600,000 golf clubs ago. Beginning with military stationed in Baghdad, the donated equipment has found its way to U.S. troops in 60 countries as well as Wounded Warriors programs and VA hospitals in all 50 states. “The idea behind Bunkers in Baghdad is simple: We collect and ship golf equipment to our troops and vets around the world,” said Hanna. ”Our troops truly appreciate anything we send them — especially a little slice of home. We hear from people in the military every day. The majority of feedback we hear from our soldiers is, ‘Thank you for not forgetting about us.'” Hanna said the first major contributor was Callaway Golf, which has to date donated more than one million golf balls and countless clubs. In 2016, national sports and restaurant destination Topgolf donated 11,000 golf clubs, 600 yards of turf squares and 21,000 golf balls to the charity…“Did I think it would come this far and grow this fast? No,” said Hanna. “But as long as I keep getting requests from our brave men and women overseas, and our warriors here at home, and we still have the support of the community and great partners, we’ll keep doing what we do.”

How an 80-Year-Old Company and a 108-Year-Old Curse Are Energizing a 200-Year-Old Game
Any sporting Commissioner and League owner know the success in the future of your franchise lies in the penetration of our youth. Meaning, if you play the game when you’re younger, the likelihood that you will participate as a fan or even if lucky, as a professional, increases immensely. To that end, Manfred has enacted a number of measures such as the automation of the intentional walk (instead of a 4-pitch walk, it will move to a dugout signal, saving about 1 minute of dead time per walk), and a two-minute limit on replays. League rules the aside, many companies founded on the tradition of the sport are also seeking reinvention. Topps, a baseball trading cards company, adapted their business model and introduced several new products to their card rotation. Continuing its successful pilot last season, “Topps Now” captures big and memorable events in newly made cards. The cards are then released the following day and sold on the Topps website with a window of just 24 hours. A testament to product performance last season was producing Bartolo Colon’s 1st career home run at the age of 42 over San Diego. Topps Now sold 8,826 Colon cards at $9.99 each, in 24 hours, outselling every other one made that season.

CREDIT: Getty Images

Markelle Fultz Is the Big Man on Campus 2.0: Inside the Making of a Superstar
“Unless someone told you otherwise, you’d never know he was such a big star,” Crisp says. “I’ve never even heard him bring up the NBA. If someone tries to talk to him about it, he changes the subject immediately. He doesn’t like talking about himself.” But Fultz does enjoy boasting about his knack for making trick shots. Night after night last fall—and during the season, too—Fultz would be at the Alaska Airlines Center well past 10 p.m. working on behind-the-back heaves from half court, between-the-legs dunks and even shots from the rafters. In practice, though, Fultz is attentive and focused. While college basketball fans, TV analysts and NBA scouts fawn over his game, Fultz knows he’s nowhere close to reaching his ceiling. His three-point shooting, he says, needs to improve. And he has so much more to learn defensively. But Fultz is facing a conundrum on the court in Seattle. He knows how much Washington’s chemistry will improve if he gets more Huskies the ball for open shots. But at times his coaches want him to “take over” games, even if he is already averaging more than 23 points. “I care so much about my teammates,” Fultz says. “I want to make them happy.”

The Athlete in Me Won’t Stop
There are a handful of psychological stages involved in coping with a disabling spinal cord injury. The final one, which the pamphlets say is the most important, is “acceptance.” But I’m not accepting. I time myself on walks, use an app to chart power data in watts. I’m a little happier with myself when I set a personal record than when I don’t. I think and behave like the athlete I was. I can’t stop. My friends are comforted by this crazy behavior. It is in my nature, evidence that I haven’t changed. I’m relentless. My eyes are on the prize. Out on my own I can almost forget my disability. The numbness I get in my legs on walks is familiar enough now that it’s almost like a weekend warrior’s baggage — there, but in the background, like when the ache in a hoops player’s arthritic knees vanishes at tip-off. But then, at a summer wedding on the edge of a frenetic dance floor, my differences are exposed again. I am new to this. I suspect this “them” and “us” dynamic is well known to the disability community. I’m sure I’d find shared comfort there. But I’m in limbo. To pull closer to that world feels like giving up on the other. I am told that in some cases Mother Nature smiles upon a person with an injury like mine. I often imagine nerves lengthening and muscles awakening as I plant my legs extra purposefully on my walks, thinking in my uninformed way that mental power or an act of will might spur something I cannot know or see. And yet the window is likely closing on natural nerve regeneration. Nerve repair ordinarily happens in the first year. It’s been two. I am tempted to pursue my recovery as far as medical science will take me. I hate shutting the door on the possible. My legs made me. They defined me, carrying me for as long as I can remember across wild places, up steep, punishing trails. I’m looking at my legs now. They’re beneath me. But they’re not.

Dadu Shin

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