Sports Doing Good Newsletter, #268

July 30 – Aug. 12, 2017

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

  1. After A Traumatic Injury, One Athlete Refused To Quit And Powered On To Help Others
  2. Juan Mata out to transform football and the world one per cent at a time
  3. Trevor Siemian Surprises Kids with Shopping Spree
  4. Forest Green Rovers shake up league with big dreams — and a vegan menu
  5. USF quarterback Quinton Flowers thrives in the face of tragedy
  6. Bismack Biyombo’s Charitable Giving Helping Children Across World
  7. Inside the Dodgers’ magical season: Unknown rookies, come-from-behind wins and a chance at history
  8. In Big Leagues’ Shadows, Lacrosse and Surfing Snag Twitter Users
  9. Investigating the commercial landscape of women’s football and why it’s in better shape than ever
  10. Mom, 3 daughters learned together through RISE

Why I Went to Auschwitz (by Ray Allen) (The Players’ Tribune)
Laureus Sport For Good Foundation USA Hosts “Sport For Good Congressional Recess” (Laureus)
London 2017 Announce Right To Play As Official Charity Partner (Beyond Sport)
Up2Us Sports Ambassador AJ Ramos Donates 200 Tickets to Up2Us Sports Coaches (Up2Us Sports)
Leadership in sport and development: B for bold (Sport and Dev)

In this issue of the newsletter I wanted to draw attention to the “10+” section we present along with the 10 featured stories. The “10+” section was created to be able to highlight more of the good taking place in sports. The articles come from regular sources of positive news, i.e. Laureus, Up2Us Sports, Sport and Dev, Peace and Sport, Beyond Sport, and The Players’ Tribune, amongst others. We strongly encourage you to give a look to these stories. There is so much positivity and lessons to be learned from those pieces. For example, this week the “10+” includes a first-person piece from former NBA star Ray Allen, published at The Players’ Tribune. Ray’s essay comes on the heels of his visit to Poland to learn more about the Holocaust. Yes, this is a very heavy subject. As Ray was asked about his reason for studying this subject, he pointed to his role not as an NBA champion and future Hall of Famer, or even as an African-American man. Instead, he talked about his role as a human being who was drawn to the actions, good and bad, of fellow human beings. We were taken with Ray’s piece and see it as a reminder that we are all of one group and that such a perspective, can help supporting anyone who may be in need.

The featured stories this week include: how skier Roy Tuscany came back from a traumatic injury to help himself and others similarly situated continue to participate in sports; Manchester United player and sports ambassador Juan Mata; Denver Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian taking some very surprised kids on a timely shopping spree; a unique professional soccer club in England, the Forest Green Rovers; University of South Florida quarterback Quinton Flowers and his fighting spirit in the face of incredible family trauma; the Orlando Magic’s Bismack Biyombo’s charitable giving; the record-breaking season of the Los Angeles Dodgers; the emergence of niche sports with the help of streaming video possibilities; the rise of women’s football in Europe; and one family’s experience with the influential RISE program.

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So, enjoy. And have a good week.

After A Traumatic Injury, One Athlete Refused To Quit And Powered On To Help Others
The High Fives Foundation officially got off the ground in 2009. To date, it has helped 159 athletes from 31 states get rehabilitated and back out there. The first athlete the foundation helped had been hurt in a skiing accident. The foundation raised $25,000 in its first year — largely through word of mouth — enabling them to offer that skier personal training, a gym membership, ski lessons, and equipment to help get him ready to hit the slopes again. “We started with [that] one program, an empowerment fund, and were able to grow,” Tuscany says, “so that when insurance says ‘no,’ we say ‘yes,’ when they suffer life-altering injuries, even if it’s from a car accident.” At the adaptive camps, athletes who live with permanently altered abilities can take part in the sports they love. This includes water skiing, surfing, and mountain climbing. High Fives has also started a program for veterans who have been wounded in the line of duty. They are given nine weeks of group training for skiing and snowboarding and a full week to hit the slopes. “Individuals volunteer once a week because they’ve built relationships and friendships with members of the staff,” Tuscany says. “These guys have the biggest hearts in the world.”

Juan Mata out to transform football and the world one per cent at a time
It starts with a team. “I’m looking for 10 others – coaches, players, women’s players, people from all over the world: Africa, Asia, Australia,” he says. “Not all team-mates, there’ll be others I’ve played against and footballers who aren’t necessarily top-level. Not just players either – managers, presidents, clubs and federations. We want to build a momentum that can make a difference.” Mata, who recently returned from the slums of Mumbai, has seen it himself. “It can sound like a cliché,” he says, “but it’s true.” Now he is leading something that he hopes can mobilize and transform the game. “I’ve spoken to people already. When you explain it, they understand and most of them are aware of the ability football has to make a difference. But it is true that footballers are mistrustful. They can be mindful of initiatives that didn’t happen or didn’t work. You have to show them that it is real and transparent. You also give them the chance to choose directly where their money goes – which project and where, what it is that moves them. “You have to overcome that barrier and that’s the hardest thing. I’m inside, I trust in it. I can talk to them but the only way is to do it, to show them. That way you can convince them. Show them that it works, that it’s a collective project with the potential to improve the game and help a lot of people in an effective and sustainable way.
(Video, Caption: Manchester United midfielder Juan Mata has called on footballers to join him in pledging 1% of their salaries to a Common Goal, a collective fund that supports football charities around the world. Following a recent visit to Mumbai, Mata is now looking to assemble a ‘Starting XI’ of likeminded players to make the commitment and lead the movement forward

Trevor Siemian Surprises Kids with Shopping Spree
Friday morning, Trevor Siemian surprised 15 children from the Jeffco Midget Football Association at Dicks Sporting Goods for a shopping spree to get them ready for their upcoming season. This event was coordinated with Dick’s inaugural ‘Celebrate Youth Sports Weekend.” Each kid was given a $150.00 gift certificate and shopped with the Broncos signal-caller. I had the opportunity to cover this event and it was refreshing to see the quarterback giving back to the kids. Trevor Siemian spent his morning taking pictures, and conversing with the kids. A memorable moment came as soon as Siemian entered with one child asking, “Why didn’t you invite Von Miller?” The kids all had a blast and Trevor seemed to enjoy himself as well as he helped the kids pick out cleats, gloves and other football gear. Broncos players typically do a very good job in the community and this was no exception. The children loved Siemian, who was very engaging and helpful while they picked out their favorite items. After Trevor finished up with the kids, he took a few moments to speak with us about the event and the upcoming season. He was thrilled to be able to give back to the community, and knows the impact that youth sports had on him growing up.

Forest Green Rovers shake up league with big dreams — and a vegan menu
The “little club up the hill” a mile from the Gloucestershire market town of Nailsworth — population 5,794 — will on Saturday meet Barnet in their League Two debut. The fans who descend on The New Lawn, Rovers’ home in the heart of England’s lovely Cotswold hills, for that historic match will have to brace themselves for, as the very British Monty Python comedy team would always put it, “something completely different.” They will find themselves in a football ground — the road where the stadium is situated is called, rather fittingly, Another Way — run on organic principles. Rovers are making pitch irrigation independent from the water mains, using a combination of rain, drain and spring water. No pesticides or man-made chemicals are used on the pitch. The visible solar panels power an electric “mow-bot” which, using GPS technology, cuts the grass in the middle of the night without human intervention. Outside the ticket office you can find charging points for electric vehicles and poster boards explaining the club’s sustainability policies. Inside, most strikingly, the age-old British footballing tradition of fans chomping on gristly hamburgers, meat pies and beefy hot drinks has been consigned to the 20th-century dustbin. Only organic food and a vegan menu is on offer. Steak and kidney pies are out; Q Pies, a creation made of leek and Quorn, a meat substitute, served with vegan gravy are in. If you want a cup of tea, it will come with oat milk or soya.

Charging stations for electric cars can be found outside The New Lawn, Forest Green’s home stadium.

USF quarterback Quinton Flowers thrives in the face of tragedy
“You know his story, and you see his smile and see him working, you can’t have a bad day,” Gilbert said. “I can’t have a bad day. This kid has had a lot of unfortunate things happen to him in his life, and he shows up every day, and he works, and he’s rolling. There are a few kids through your coaching career that not only you get to influence, but they impact you every day. He’s one of them.” Flowers came to USF not only to play quarterback but also to build a struggling program. There is more to be done beyond building his stats. He wants to ultimately say that he played a key role in bringing USF to places it had never been, and that could happen if the favored Bulls end up in a New Year’s Six bowl game. “Some kids can’t take what he’s been through,” Nick Mans said. “Lose a mom, lose a dad and lose a brother. To keep the poise and keep being himself … I don’t know if I could take it. I just told him, ‘Keep your head up, keep a smile on your face, keep God first, and everything will iron out well.'” Mans, known affectionately around the team as “Unck,” plans to be at every home game. So will Nathaniel Jr., Shanay, their kids and Quinton’s first child, a daughter born last year. The family usually rents a bus and 25-30 members pile in for the four-hour ride to Tampa. Before each game, Quinton will listen closely, the way he always does. He says he can hear his mother calling out with the special nickname she used just for him. “Boobie, keep going! Keep pushing!”

Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports

Bismack Biyombo’s Charitable Giving Helping Children Across World
Orlando Magic center Bismack Biyombo doesn’t just recite and repeat inspirational, feel-good quotes via his active presence on social media; he lives his life through those messages of hope and promise by following through with meaningful actions. Biyombo hails from the Democratic Republic of Congo, a volcano-scarred, war-torn country that is the very definition of a paradox in that it is both one of the richest and poorest nations in the world. While the DRC possesses some of the most wanted natural minerals of anywhere in the world, the country is also a place where the life expectancy is in the 50s, the infant mortality rate is among the highest in the world and hunger and death by starvation are commonplace. The 6-foot-9, 245-pound Biyombo made it out of the DRC because of his basketball talents, but in many ways he’s never left. Biyombo has spent most of this offseason back on his home continent of Africa and in the DRC, readying for the Sept. 4th opening of the Kivu International School in Goma that he has heavily funded. The expansive facility features a variety of classroom buildings, a library with more than 8,000 books, a 135-seat auditorium and an artificial turf soccer pitch. Then, there’s the Bismack Biyombo Basketball Stadium, the first covered basketball stadium in the DRC and one that will seat 1,000 fans. To Biyombo, the facility represents proof of him putting his work, time and finances where his proclamations are. He is serious about fulfilling his responsibility to being a difference-maker in the DRC and someone who can and will impact the lives there.

“We will all die. The goal isn’t to live forever; the goal is to create something that will. #gomawebless #onamission #DRC” – Bismack Biyombo, via Twitter on July 24

Inside the Dodgers’ magical season: Unknown rookies, come-from-behind wins and a chance at history
During this torrid summer, the Dodgers set a major league record by winning 53 consecutive games in which they held the lead — at any point. When Kershaw went down with a back injury in late July, the team responded by winning its next seven games. Across their storied history, the Dodgers have won more than 100 games six times, only three times since V-J Day and twice since moving to Los Angeles. The 1953 Brooklyn Dodgers hold the franchise record with 105 wins. The 2017 Dodgers are on pace for 114. They won 75 games faster than any team in franchise history. Only two teams have won more than 110 games since big-league schedules were expanded to 162 games in 1962. The 1998 Yankees won 114 en route to a championship. The 2001 Mariners won 116 — but failed to reach the World Series. For these Dodgers, judgment will not arrive until the playoffs. The franchise has not won the World Series since 1988, a 28-season drought that includes early exits the past four years. A bitter October could ruin a joyous summer. Roberts has not hidden from the expectations. When other teams traded for upgrades in July, Roberts sounded unflappable. “We still know we’re the best team,” he said.

Shortstop Corey Seager gets high-fives at the dugout after hitting his second homer of the night, a 2-run shot, giving the Dodgers a 6-4 lead against the San Francisco Giants. Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times

In Big Leagues’ Shadows, Lacrosse and Surfing Snag Twitter Users
The nine-team lacrosse league did that last year with NLL TV, according to Sakiewicz. The ad-supported, subscription OTT channel is offered online and on TV via streaming devices such as Roku and Apple TV. “The smaller leagues, even though they had fans who were just as passionate and demanded great quality, didn’t have the resources,” said Brian Bedol, founder and CEO of New York-based Sportsrocket, which does online broadcasts for the NLL. He calls his OTT services the “media version of fracking,” letting less-popular sports tap riches from smaller, hard-to-reach audiences. By working with multiple clients, including the Arena Football League and DeerHunter.TV, Sportsrocket keeps costs down and offers leagues like the NLL high-quality streams at a fraction of what conventional TV would cost, Bedol said. The NLL now has new revenue sources: ad sales from weekly Twitter games and its own NLL TV, along with more than 25,000 subscribers paying up to $34.95 a year. With NLL TV available around the clock, the league has more to offer to advertisers, which has increased sales and sponsorships, said Ashley Dabb, chief marketing officer. “More importantly it gives fans a place to go,” Dabb said.

The NLL now has new revenue sources: ad sales from weekly Twitter games and its own NLL TV, along with more than 25,000 subscribers paying up to $34.95 a year. Photo Illustration: Tom Hall/Bloomberg

Investigating the commercial landscape of women’s football and why it’s in better shape than ever
Speaking generally about the value proposition for a company to get involved in women’s football, Parfitt said that the sport “is a very powerful message for diversity and inclusion as a brand.” “There is a very strong brand and economic case for why a brand would sponsor women’s football. One in five women are the main breadwinners in the family. There is a fast-growing female economy – women have increased financial stability and, huge buying power – and yet our research shows that women don’t believe they are being represented in brand marketing. Football is a brilliant and powerful metaphor for what women can achieve.” Parfitt highlights the continued trend of unbundling the rights and sponsorships between the men’s and women’s game as a crucial step towards maximising the commercial potential of women’s football. In addition to SSE focusing exclusively on the women’s FA Cup, Parfitt highlighted the new shirt sponsorship between Liverpool LFC and Avon, which marks a departure from the men’s Standard Charter shirt sponsorship. Parfitt explained that while the commercial potential is there, active engagement by the sponsors is necessary in order to unlock that potential. “Commercial opportunity is growing exponentially, especially if you look at where we were even just a few years ago,” said Georgie Hodge, the head of women’s football at Base Soccer.

The Lionesses are helping drive forward the profile of the women’s game in England. Getty

Mom, 3 daughters learned together through RISE
Devin said the program’s emphasis on leadership showed on the field. “The leaders and captains on our team have more confidence and can talk respectfully to the referees,” she said. “There was one instance that I can remember where a referee made a bad call. Our captain was very respectful and went and talked to the ref about the call they made.” Erica said she was impressed by how her players were able to respectfully discuss sensitive topics that they disagreed on throughout the program. “The kids connected and were on the same page,” she said. “There were a handful of players with opposing views speaking on behalf of what they believed in and coming together from different angles. For example, we went through the history of racism in sports and discussed racial imagery like the Cleveland Indians logo. The majority of the group said that it isn’t great that the logo exists, but others said that it’s just a name. This led to some interesting conversations.” Erica said social media was also an important topic in the program. “The social media lesson is just so relevant to the kids now,” she said. “They have the ability to put something positive or something negative out there. They have a voice.” Shannon agreed and even said it was her favorite topic. “I’ll scroll through Twitter and see tweets about race and culture all the time,” she said. “The social media discussions were my favorite because of how relevant they are.” Shannon said the program helped her communicate with her teammates and other classmates who had also gone through program.

From left are the Reillys: Erin, Devin, Erica and Shannon. Erica led her three daughters and the rest of the Saline High School varsity field hockey team through the RISE Leadership Program.

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Our goal is to have Sports Doing Good be a portal housing original content and excerpts from and links to the increasing number of articles, websites, video, and other media that showcase the good in sports and society. We aim to celebrate those concepts, activities, events, and individuals by highlighting them for a wider audience. Much of the news today, whether sports- related or not, is incredibly negative and increasingly polarizing, biased, and quite annoying. We are trying to refocus some of the discussion on the good, with a focus on sports.

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