Sports Doing Good Newsletter, #254

March 12 – March 18, 2017

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

  1. SXSW Sports 2017: Tennessee Titans’ Derrick Morgan Tackles Investment, Technology With Huddle Ventures
  2. Atlanta Hawks contemplate the role of athletes as social activists during symposium
  3. How Richard Jefferson And Channing Frye Created The NBA’s Most Interesting Podcast
  4. Stackable soccer pitches could bring sport into the city
  5. The Most Powerful Tool For Reaching Refugee and Immigrant Kids? Soccer
  6. Seahawks DE Michael Bennett To Donate Endorsement Money To Help Rebuild Minority Communities
  7. Randy Cross: Why I’m Donating My Brain to CTE Research
  8. Meet the rocket scientist guiding Kansas’s surprising recruiting success
  9. C.J. Wilson, Former Baseball Star, Turns to Car Dealerships and Racing
  10. ‘A global game’: March Madness sprinkled with international flavor

Where My Zags At? (Nigel Williams-Goss) (The Players’ Tribune)
Early learning through sport and play in India (Sport and Dev)           Streetfootballworld Draws Global Leaders in Soccer to Atlanta (Laureus)
AmeriCorps VISTAs: Where are they now (Up2Us Sports)
Buzz Williams: “Care for their hearts more than their skill” (NAYS)

11. Crowdfunding effort of the weekZach Terrell for Tree of Life (Pledge It)

Athlete activism
is a regular topic of inclusion in the Sports Doing Good newsletter. This week we have three stories that speak to that phenomenon. In Atlanta, discussion of the topic was front and center as athletes and officials contemplated best practices and potential obstacles when it comes to advancing efforts in this area. We then have a story of NFL star Michael Bennett, who, encouraged by Chance The Rapper, decided to donate all of his endorsement monies in 2017 to support change in minority communities. Bennett, already known for his work in the community, was inspired to do something that would not only have impact on its own, but also encourage others to follow his lead. Finally, we feature a story of former NFL star Randy Cross, who will be practicing his own brand of athlete activism by making a commitment to donate his brain after he passes for the study of concussions and its long-term impact on football players.

The other stories we are happy to feature this week, include: the NFL’s Derrick Morgan and his efforts now to position himself for a positive future post-football; Cleveland Cavalier teammates Richard Jefferson and Channing Frye and their “new media” success story with their “Road Trippin” podcast; an exciting potential engineering solution to limited space in cities for football and other activities; the great success of a program in San Diego helping immigrant children find a way to connect and feel comfortable in a very new environment; the great story of Tony Hull and his move from rocket scientist to being a successful football coach; former MLB pitcher CJ Wilson and his transition from professional athlete to professional businessman; and the growing influence of international players on a most American phenomenon, March Madness.

Finally, we want to let you know of a major sports business event taking place in about two weeks. The 14th Annual Sports Events Marketing Experience (SEME 2017) – the premier national sports career and networking conference – is set for March 31 – April 1, 2017, in Washington, D.C. with TeamWork Online. The first two keynote speakers set for the event are Ryan Kuehl, Senior Vice President, Global Sports Marketing, Under Armour, and Tobias Sherman, Global Head of eSports, WME / MG eSports.Day 2 begins with the Breakfast with Buffy immersion experience featuring Buffy Filippell of TeamWork Online, the Nationals’ leading sports job placement resource. SEME features over 75 executives and experts from over 40 organizations in 15 different sports career fields, including top decision makers from the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, MLS, NCAA, NASCAR, College Sports, Action Sports, Minor Leagues, the Olympics and other public and private organizations. Supported by a staff of student volunteers, SEME offers attendees a special opportunity to gain the insight, strategy, and contacts necessary to break into this ultra-competitive industry.SEME’s two-day event offers career seekers and advanced students unparalleled access to the leaders in the sports industry. Attendees gain first-hand knowledge and real-world career insight, interact with global leaders in the sports and event fields, participate in one-on-one interviews and explore internship and job opportunities. Key conference features include the Networking Reception, the Career Workshop and Job/Internship Fair, all of which help to answer the ultimate career and job question: “What Makes Me Marketable?”

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So enjoy. And have a good week.

SXSW Sports 2017: Tennessee Titans’ Derrick Morgan Tackles Investment, Technology With Huddle Ventures
It’s an offseason narrative that is consistently resurfacing, one where athletes — particularly in the NFL and NBA — are trading the days of of playing video games, watching missed television shows and extensively recovering from the five- or six-month season into business opportunities for Career 2.0. They’re jetting cross-country to meet with Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and utilizing Linkedin to schedule business meetings while on vacation, like New York Jets offensive lineman Kelvin Beachum, Jr. recently did when he traveled to Australia. Morgan spends part of his offseason days with his wife and two kids catching up on Father Time he missed during the NFL grind but with a focus on learning more about the business world, like equity crowdfunding. He recently watched a popular YouTube video with angel investor Manny Fernandez and within 24 hours, Morgan was on the phone picking Fernandez’s brain. “I’m not trying to go full blaze ahead into something I’m not really educated on,” said Morgan about his constantly-learning mentality. “I want to be calculated and strategic, not waste a lot of money. Time is money, and I want to avoid those pitfalls.”

Nashville, TN – October 6, 2013 – LP Field: Delrrick Morgan (91) of the Tennessee Titans during a regular season game (Photo by Scott Clarke / ESPN Images)

Atlanta Hawks contemplate the role of athletes as social activists during symposium
Pioli discussed the learning curves that came with hiring a woman, Katie Sowers, for a coaching internship with the Falcons in 2016. “We just want to make it as normal as possible,” Pioli said when asked why the organization didn’t emphasize the fact that Sowers is a woman in an effort to prove that diversity is a priority for the Falcons. Pioli said Sowers is a part of creating a pipeline for more diversity in the organization. Both the team and Sowers have been keeping logs of unique obstacles that have come up since she was hired. It’s their way of acknowledging current blind spots so that they can avoid them in future instances. One potential obstacle was whether or not Sowers would be allowed in the locker room. Pioli said the players and the rest of the organization immediately welcomed her and made the necessary considerations to ensure she is comfortable. Pioli believes executives are hired for their ability to think critically and solve problems. Finding solutions to obstacles that arise when being diverse and inclusive should be no different. “That’s what leaders do,” he said.

Thabo Sefolosha, Keri Potts, Dominique Wilkins, Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf and Takeo Spikes participated in a panel during the Model of Shaping Atlanta through Inclusive Conversations symposium. The Undefeated’s Marc Spears served as moderator. ©Kat Goduco Photography

How Richard Jefferson And Channing Frye Created The NBA’s Most Interesting Podcast
Even before the interest from Uninterrupted, the podcast’s popularity led to Jefferson investing his own money into new equipment, like purchasing microphone headsets during a recent trip to New York City and acquiring mics that they no longer have to hold. And as Jefferson’s NBA career comes to a close and his passion for broadcast intensifies, he’s acutely aware of the unique value and content opportunities Road Trippin’ provides. “There’s no better route to tell your story than you,” Jefferson says. “Every single time we walk in (the locker room), there’s 25 people waiting for a tidbit, or this is the article I want to write or this is my idea. It’s like, or, you can sit down and listen to us crack jokes for 45 minutes and talk about how we played sh*tty in the month of January and how everybody is grumpy and how Channing emotionally eats fast food if he’s not playing well. There’s something there that you will never ever get from a normal interview.” While Clifton admits that, as a media member, some of the stories various players have told on Road Trippin’ would be a dream for any sports media outlet to unearth on their own, there’s a certain naturalness to the way they’re presented on the podcast that’s impossible to replicate.

Stackable soccer pitches could bring sport into the city
‘There is a problem as London suffers from a chronic lack of space for sport,’ AL_A shares on their website. ‘Children no longer play in the streets as they once did and adults who want an informal game after work are frustrated by a lack of spaces and by high costs for what is available.’ There are three different levels in the building, all of which are connected by two staircases. The pieces of this massive structure are stored in shipping containers – allowing it to be easily transported to other locations in the city. Fans watch the game along the outside of the field on a platform and rooms can be added for the players on demand if required. ‘It encourages the theater of the game, with spectators and would-be players drawn in as Pitch/Pitch animates the cityscape,’ shares AL_A. ‘Pitch/Pitch allows the game to retain an urban flavor, adapting to the number of players, from 3-a-side upwards, and awkward shaped sites. Each pitch is the regulated size, but the firm says these towers can be used for other activities such as dance classes for children and adults during the day, in addition to other sports like baseball. The stackable soccer field is still a concept drawing, as AL_A is currently in discussion with partners in order to obtain financing and a plan to get the design across London.

Pitch/Pitch is designed with a lightweight carbon-fiber structure that stacks five-a side fields on top of each other. Each tower has three levels with two staircases to connect them and fans watch the game along the outside of the field on a platform

The Most Powerful Tool For Reaching Refugee and Immigrant Kids? Soccer
YALLA filled a growing need. According to the Pew Research Center, the United States admitted almost 85,000 refugees in the 2016 fiscal year, and San Diego County was one of their popular resettlement locations. Since 2012, the city of San Diego has taken in more Syrian refugees than any other U.S. city. San Diego County took in 3,100 refugees in fiscal year 2016—almost a 1,000 more refugees than Los Angeles County, which is three times its size. This is not the first time San Diego County has outnumbered Los Angeles County in refugee arrivals since 2009. San Diego’s weather, its melting pot of refugees, and its federally contracted resettlement agencies make it an in-demand locale. YALLA currently serves approximately 450 refugee and immigrant youth, ranging from 6 to 18 years old and who come from all over the world, including Afghanistan, Egypt, Sudan, Liberia, Syria, and others. “We only have about 120 students in house,” says Cooper. “We don’t have standardized finance streams. We can’t provide staffing for more students, so money is needed to up that number.” Students lucky enough to join, credit the program with helping them assimilate to life in America. Abdulazeez, the subject of a Disney Channel video on his YALLA soccer experience, says, “YALLA isn’t like any other soccer club. They don’t just want your money or want to improve their program by having you there, but they actually want to improve you—not just in soccer, but in school, at home, and in life.”

Seahawks DE Michael Bennett To Donate Endorsement Money To Help Rebuild Minority Communities
“I was inspired by Chance The Rapper to ‘think bigger’ when he pledged one million dollars to Chicago kids and their school system. So, I’ll be joining him by investing in the future of our youth. The system is failing our kids, and it will be up to the community and our leaders to help keep the hope alive by focusing on improving our education system and the future of our kids. Any company that decides to invest in me, just know that you’ll be investing in opportunities and providing inspiration for these families- many who feel unnoticed or go unmentioned. I have decided to donate all of my endorsement money in 2017 to help rebuild minority communities through s.t.e.a.m programs, as well as initiatives that directly affect women of color in hopes that we can create more opportunities for our youth and build a brighter future. In addition, 50% of the proceeds from my jersey sales this year will go to programs and initiatives to support inner-city garden projects, as it’s not only about providing opportunities in education and arts, but to help provide the right nutrition and access to healthy living to all. I’m asking all professional athletes to join me by donating a portion of your endorsements this year to a cause of your choice. We can make a difference. It’s up to us to help plant seeds of hope and help fuel the future.

Randy Cross: Why I’m Donating My Brain to CTE Research
Everyone close to me had a pretty similar reaction to my announcement. The only blowback I experienced was from a few fans who thought I had no need to seek answers. Their general response was, “What’s your problem with football? You made millions of dollars playing … why are you complaining?” That truly bothered me. I didn’t decide to donate my brain to CTE research out of some sort of resentment toward the game of football. I loved the opportunities the game provided me, but more than that, the reason I played was because I had an incredible passion for the sport. And it’s because I loved the game of football so much that to this day I still have not regrets about playing, regardless of the potential consequences for having done so. It’s one of the greatest things I’ve ever done. But if you really love something, you need to be able to look at it critically. There will always be people interested in playing football at every level. I mean, hell, it’s the greatest game on earth. But it’s a disservice to the players and the game itself if every person who straps on a helmet doesn’t have a full understanding of the sport’s potential risks.

Meet the rocket scientist guiding Kansas’s surprising recruiting success
Beaty isn’t kidding. Hull played center at Louisiana-Lafayette and graduated with an industrial engineering degree. After college, he helped build fuselages for F-18s for Northrop Grumman in California. Later, Hull returned to New Orleans and supervised welding on the Space Shuttle’s external fuel tank for Lockheed Martin. While working at Lockheed, Hull began volunteering as a football coach. He started in 2005 at his alma mater, Sarah Reed High, in the New Orleans East neighborhood. After Hurricane Katrina hit, Reed’s building didn’t reopen until October ’06. So Hull spent that season volunteering at Mandeville High. “It overtook me,” Hull said. “I just developed a serious love.” Hull decided he wanted to coach for a living. Specifically, he decided he wanted to be a college head coach. He wasn’t sure how to do that, but he sent résumés everywhere volunteering to work for free. He hand-delivered one, and Hull said he could hear the head coach crumpling up the résumé to throw it in the trash as he left the office.

Photo by Nick Krug. Kansas running backs coach Tony Hull encourages his players as they warm up during practice on Tuesday, April 5, 2016.

C.J. Wilson, Former Baseball Star, Turns to Car Dealerships and Racing
C.J. Wilson worked a lot of jobs before he made it to the major leagues. The two-time MLB All-Star pitcher flipped burgers, folded clothes, sold health food and worked as a personal trainer, to name a few. So it should come as no surprise that after ending his baseball career in 2016, Wilson wasn’t about to hit the links in retirement. Today, Wilson focuses full time on his career as an automotive dealer, the owner of a racing team and, starting this week, a professional racecar driver. On Thursday, Wilson will get behind the wheel for the first time in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA. “Cars are one of the biggest passions that I have, and I really enjoy the business aspect of this,” Wilson told FOX Business in an interview. “I don’t golf. I’d much rather be a business guy.” The California native is the proprietor of 15 car and motorcycle dealerships that employ more than 150 workers, as well as CJ Wilson Racing, which fields three cars in races sanctioned by the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA).

C.J. Wilson stands inside the showroom at Porsche of Fresno, one of the car dealerships he acquired in early 2017. (CJ Wilson Racing)

‘A global game’: March Madness sprinkled with international flavor
Many players said the games aren’t on television in their countries, but online access will help their families and friends keep up with March Madness. A challenge for some foreign followers is the time difference. New Mexico State’s Tanveer Bhullar is from Toronto, but much of his family lives in India, 10½ hours away from Tulsa. Friday’s 11:40am Central start will be at 10:10 p.m. there. His brother – Sim Bhullar, all 7ft 5in and 360lbs of him – helped New Mexico State reach the tournament in 2013 and 2014. Little brother Tanveer (7ft 2in, 275lbs) said the people in India are just learning about the NCAA tournament. “It’s kind of difficult for them to realize how big this is,” he said. “There’s no such thing like March Madness in India. They’ve never been around anything like this. Every time I talk to my mother and my aunts back there, they can only imagine what I’m talking about.” Baylor guard Manu Lecomte, who was born in Brussels, Belgium, said the people back home are starting to understand. “It’s a big deal,” Lecomte said. “I know it’s a huge thing here, but over in Belgium, I know people are watching. They’re pretty excited.”

New Mexico State’s Tanveer Bhullar is from Toronto, but much of his family lives in India. Photograph: Aaron Sweet/Getty Images

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