March 5 – March 11, 2017
Welcome to week two hundred and fifty-three of the Sports Doing Good newsletter. This week’s 10 stories include:
- Crowdfunding: A Perfect Partner For Pro Sports Teams To Engage Fans While Raising Money
- Celebrity Endorsers Turn Political, and Keep Their Deals
- Angela Lee: The world’s youngest MMA champion
- ‘Beef Ball’ to become first woman to lead a professional men’s team
- Venus Williams: Why athletes make great entrepreneurs
- Another Spring (Sort of) for the Architect of the Mets
- Skateboard pioneer Cindy Whitehead paves the way for the next generation of girl skaters
- Think big: 6’9″, 396-pound Daniel Faalele has coaches drooling—and he’s never played a down
- Why U.S. stars chose to play for Team USA in World Baseball Classic
- Barcelona’s incredible comeback over PSG was part of a match won in the mind
The life-changing power of a positive attitude (NAYS)
Brazilian crash survivor goalie takes first new steps (Peace and Sport)
AmeriCorps Works: Up2Us Sports VISTAs Turn Their Service Year into Full-time Careers (Up2Us Sports)
Empowering Albanian girls through football: Reta’s dream (Sport and Dev)
Why the World Baseball Classic Is Awesome (by Nolan Arenado) (The Players’ Tribune)
11. Crowdfunding effort of the week – Remember Me: Kenya Nikumbuke Women’s Soccer League, https://www.fanangel.com/campaigns/62/story
We are introducing a new feature this week that highlights a fun and exciting approach to fundraising. Crowdfunding has found a niche across many sectors in business and is making its mark in sports as well. Two leaders in the space, FanAngel and Pledge It, are helping to create a market where any amount donation tied to a positive result in sport can be part of a successful fundraising effort. For all of us who have said, “I would pay to see that guy grab a rebound,” here is your chance. We certainly encourage such fundraising and hope more organizations find success utilizing it.
Our first story this week has to do with crowdfunding and comes from a friend of Sports Doing Good and advisor to Fan Angel, Erit Yellen. We follow that with a piece about: athletes speaking out despite the risk of a loss of endorsement money; Angela Lee, the world’s youngest MMA champion; a woman with a funny nickname, ‘Beef Ball’ and groundbreaking role has head coach of a men’s pro soccer team; superstar tennis player, and entrepreneur, Venus Williams and her talk on how those two world are related; New York Mets executive Sandy Alderson; skateboard pioneer Cindy Whitehead; a potentially one-of-a-kind football player, Daniel Faalele, who has never played a game; the reasons behind players’ decision to represent the USA in the World Baseball Classic; and some thoughts on one of the greatest comebacks ever in professional soccer that took place this week.
Finally, we want to publicize a new organization that is hosting its first event this Thursday, March 16 in New York City. South Asians in Sports – https://sainsports.com/ – is hosting a panel entitled “The Future of Sports.” You will hear from an esteemed panel who will be able to give you different perspectives on challenges and opportunities in sport. We invite you to sign up for this free event and to learn more about the organization itself.
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So enjoy. And have a good week.
Crowdfunding: A Perfect Partner For Pro Sports Teams To Engage Fans While Raising Money
For years, pro sports teams have embraced the concept of partnering with charities to give back and improve community relations. It’s now industry standard for pro teams to provide donations, scholarships, and programming for a variety of important causes. In the last few years, the pressure for teams and even the leagues themselves (think NFL’s breast cancer partnership and Cleats for a Cause) to do bigger, better and more public events has increased substantially. Yet, the teams often underperform in a truly important part of these efforts: engaging their fans to help the causes. Successful charity campaigns need to feel authentic; they can’t feel like a marketing effort. Done right, charity campaigns rally the community around a cause. That’s where the fans come in. Fans want to help their team succeed, and also help give back to important causes in their community. Clever crowdfunding campaigns are the easiest, most effective way to do this. Using sports-oriented crowdfunding websites allow fans to donate directly, but also offer features like “pledging for performance” – allowing fans to donate for each goal, point, strikeout… Thus, aligning the team’s charitable cause and the fan’s desire for performance.
Celebrity Endorsers Turn Political, and Keep Their Deals
The influence of endorsers, particularly athletes, has changed in recent years. Joe Favorito, a longtime communications strategist in sports and entertainment, said Mr. Curry wore the Under Armour logo on a televised stage every night and, through social media, had an enormous platform to reach consumers on a whim. This creates more of a necessity to pair endorsers with companies that match their personalities. “You have athletes who are more in control of their brand than ever before,” Mr. Favorito said. “They’re not just signing on to take a check. They’re signing because everything about their personal brand is aligned with the brand they’re working with.” In some cases, the personal brand’s allure has grown stronger than the company’s. In the past, endorsement contracts were often drafted with language that penalized the endorser for “making comments or taking positions that were controversial and potentially incur negative reaction,” Mr. Steinberg said. Today, however, he might approach a new endorsement deal — particularly with a high-profile client — a little differently.
The Warriors’ Stephen Curry criticized the chief executive of his own sneaker brand, Under Armour, for complimenting President Trump. Ben Margot/Associated Press.
Angela Lee: The world’s youngest MMA champion
Today Lee divides her time between Hawaii, where the family moved when she was young, and Singapore, where she’s a member of the Evolve fight team and competes with the ONE Championship organization — considered by many to be the Asian equivalent of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), an American organization and the largest MMA promoter in the world. When Lee emerged victorious from her championship fight last May, her new contract with ONE reportedly made her one of the highest paid females in the history of any MMA organization in the world. Though specific details about her contract haven’t been released, ONE founder Chatri Sityodtong has publicly said that Lee is now one of the top five best-paid fighters in his organization. He wrote in a post on his Facebook page: “I believe in meritocracy and that is how all of my companies are run. Everyone should be afforded the equal opportunity to be the master of his/her own destiny through his/her thoughts, words, and actions.
Lee has become one of the most popular MMA fighters in Asia.
‘Beef Ball’ to become first woman to lead a professional men’s team
Hong Kong’s Chan Yuen-ting will smash another hole through football’s glass ceiling when she makes history in the AFC Champions League on Wednesday — but it couldn’t be a tougher debut for the trailblazing female coach. Chan, nicknamed “Beef Ball” and just 28 years old, will etch her name in the record books as the first woman worldwide to lead a professional men’s team into continental competition, at the helm of Hong Kong’s Eastern. The game is not far from Hong Kong, in southern mainland China — but it is against Guangzhou Evergrande, the mega-rich “Manchester United of Asia” with two Champions League titles and six straight domestic trophies to their name. But for Chan, who last year became the first female coach to win a top-flight men’s league, it will be an honour to face Evergrande and their World Cup-winning manager, Brazil’s Luiz Felipe Scolari. “I never imagined or expected this could happen but now we’re going to play against him so I feel excited and I’m looking forward to meeting him,” she told the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) website.
Chan Yuen-ting will etch her name in the record books as the first woman worldwide to lead a professional men’s team into continental competition, at the helm of Hong Kong’s Eastern FC (AFP/File)
Venus Williams: Why athletes make great entrepreneurs
Williams, currently ranked 13th in tennis, says the skills she has developed in tennis are the same that make her successful in business. “Sport is so much like business,” Williams tells CNBC. “It’s all about strategy. And it’s all about learning from losing. It’s all about setting goals.” Playing sports helps women learn to believe in themselves, which is crucial when it comes to starting your own business. “I encourage young women, and also young men as well, but especially young women, to build confidence through sport,” says Williams. Her younger sister, Serena, who is ranked number one in tennis, is currently part of a month-long Brawny ad campaign #StrengthHasNoGender, highlighting pioneering women. While Venus is already building her business empire, she’s still devoted to her tennis career. Tennis is “the first thing I do when I wake up in the morning,” she says. “And still, I am at that point when I wake up and the first thing I think about is, ‘How am I going to get better?'”
Photo by Al Bello
Another Spring (Sort of) for the Architect of the Mets
The day after Mets pitchers and catchers reported to the team’s spring training facility here a month ago, Sandy Alderson strolled through the clubhouse. He greeted each player by name, and a smile stretched across his face. For a man requiring medical tests every four months to check if he remains cancer free, Alderson has remained as dedicated as ever to his work. And he has regained the 25 pounds he lost during 20 weeks of chemotherapy and two surgeries. “My doctor says it’s good,” Alderson said. “My mirror says it’s bad.” At 69, Alderson is the oldest general manager in baseball, a sport he once described as a young person’s game. His first year as a general manager was way back in 1983 with the Oakland Athletics, long before the data revolution transformed the sport. All these years later, he now embarks on his seventh season with the Mets, a team that he took over in the midst of a financial scandal that significantly affected its payroll and then patiently rebuilt into a World Series contender.
General Manager Sandy Alderson watching the Mets recently in Port St. Lucie, Fla. Michael Ares for The New York Times
Skateboard pioneer Cindy Whitehead paves the way for the next generation of girl skaters
But those accolades have little to do with why Whitehead means so much to her sport. She has earned that distinction by spending the past two decades lifting up future generations of female skateboarders. Ask Whitehead about the current crop of skaters, and she can rattle off the bios and achievements of countless young women as easily as she can recount her own. In 2013, she started a girl-empowerment skate brand and movement called “Girl is NOT a 4 Letter Word,” which supports and gives back to women in action sports. She regularly features photographs and interviews with up-and-coming skaters on the brand’s website, and in 2014, she gave a TED Talk of the same name at TEDxYouth in Santa Monica. “Don’t be afraid to stand up and speak your mind,” Whitehead said to close her TED Talk. “Don’t be afraid to rock the boat. Don’t be afraid to channel your inner rebel, and never be afraid to live life balls to the wall and do epic s—.” That’s a mantra Whitehead has embodied since she turned pro in the mid-1970s.
Think big: 6’9″, 396-pound Daniel Faalele has coaches drooling—and he’s never played a down
Faalele understood virtually nothing about football. “He didn’t even know what a yard was,” Dunlap says. About a week after landing, Faalele traveled with the Ascenders to Mission Viejo, Calif., where they faced Centennial High. It was the first game Faalele had watched from start to finish. On the bus afterward, players were stunned at his questions. Why are we kicking it to them? Why, all of sudden, does the other team give us the ball back? With a learning curve so steep—it took him about 20 minutes that first day to put on his pads—Faalele and the coaches agreed that it would be better if he only practiced through his junior season so he could learn the sport. When Faalele talks about American football, he talks about “my dream.” But the dream refers more to a better life for Ruth and his brother, Taylor (who, at 11, is already 6 feet and 260 pounds). But plenty of large people try football and fail. Off the field Faalele tries not to intimidate with his size. He speaks softly. He treats others gently. Initially, Ruth and the coaches wondered if that might affect his play. Ruth says that as a child, Daniel would walk away when playtime got rough because he worried he might hurt his friends. That wouldn’t work on a football field.
Why U.S. stars chose to play for Team USA in World Baseball Classic
Amid the absences and the apathy, players who signed up for the Classic want everyone to know how passionate they are. Miami Marlins outfielder Christian Yelich wasn’t even motivated by the free equipment — although the blue bat that Louisville Slugger just shipped him was a nice fringe benefit. “There’s a lot of passion and pride on the line,” Yelich said. “I think everyone is excited. Nobody had to do this. Nobody was forced to play in this thing. Everybody is there by choice and excited to represent their country.”…A sampling of players on the Team USA roster reveals a variety of reasons for taking part. Lucroy played four years ago, and he immediately vowed it wouldn’t be a singular experience in his career. He loved the “crazy” atmosphere surrounding the event, even if the games in Miami felt like road games because so many fans were cheering for the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. Cleveland reliever Andrew Miller welcomes the opportunity to pitch in some competitive games right away and flush the disappointment from the Indians’ World Series loss to the Chicago Cubs. He’s also looking forward to reconnecting with Leyland, who managed him during his first big-league stop with the Detroit Tigers in 2006…”One of the draws to me is, I love baseball, and I’ve loved it for a long time,” Posey said. “We can play a unique role as ambassadors and spread the game. Who’s to say there’s not a kid in China who will fall in love with baseball by watching this tournament? That’s a draw for me — maybe spreading the game to other places.’
The United States has never won a medal at the World Baseball Classic. Will this year’s squad bring the U.S. its best finish yet? Alex Trautwig/WBCI/MLB Photos/Getty Images
Barcelona’s incredible comeback over PSG was part of a match won in the mind
In trying to explain exactly how Barcelona achieved the exceptional on Wednesday night, Luis Enrique could only really reach for intangibles. “The key was the faith in the team and the fans right until the 95th minute,” the Barca manager said. “It was a victory of faith.” Or, to use different words for the same idea, a victory of belief… of mentality. In fact, it’s difficult to think of a match so significantly conditioned and influenced by fundamental psychology. This could have been a research case study, as much as one of the most riveting games in European history. The Nou Camp may have been the stage for it, but this was a match played in the mind, to a greater degree than almost any other. There were so many massive juncture moments that caused a complete shift in how both individual players and the entire teams were applying themselves, how they were reacting, and that thereby seemed to reveal what they were thinking. Arsene Wenger was one of many watching on and engaged by that psychodrama as much as the drama of the unique challenge of whether Barcelona could pull off the greatest comeback in football history.
The Nou Camp will have known few atmospheres as tense as that on Wednesday night (Getty)