Sports Doing Good Newsletter, #269

Aug. 13 – Aug. 26, 2017

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

  1. Doctor Football: All-American, NFL, Brain Surgeon. Next Stop: White House?
  2. How speed skaters and Right to Play are inspiring kids around the world
  3. CC Sabathia Joins MindMeet To Share Knowledge With Fans For Charity
  4. MLB teams up with ESPN on Shred Hate bullying prevention initiative
  5. NFL to promote equality from within
  6. A Seattle Mariner Explains How Baseball Helped Him Save His Hometown
  7. How one family inspired a football revolution for girls in a village in Pakistan
  8. Bus ride takes young football players on poignant trip of redemption
  9. To Hit a Passer and ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’: A Linebacker’s Two Sides
  10. Oslo prepares for the 15th edition of the Homeless World Cup

Up2Us Sports Receives $2.5 Million in National and State AmeriCorps Funding (Up2Us Sports)
Friendship Games, a force of unity in the African Great Lakes (Peace and Sport)
Echte Liebe (True Love) (by Nuri ?ahin) (The Players’ Tribune)
World Rugby announce Leadership Forum on inspiring next generation of female players (Beyond Sport)
Common Goal: Football as a force for good (Sport and Dev)

A story, and related theme, we wanted to highlight this week entails social media. We know, social media these days can often be the cause of an avalanche of bad feelings and bad behavior. People too often use social media to harass, insult, and intimidate. But social media, of course, has contributed much to be valued, including the ability to communicate more often with more people, including our favorite sports heroes.

This week we bring your attention to a fun story entailing the New York Giants player Devon Kennard and his online book club. Devon used social media to bring a dispersed group of strangers together through the promotion of two literary works of art, “The Alchemist” and “To Kill a Mockingbird.” The use of social media to prompt smart, valued discussions can actually happen. Kennard and his fellow readers proved this to be true and we hope others learn from it and try to do the same.

The other great stories we highlight this week include: the incomparable football player – doctor – scholar – Myron Rolle; how the sports non-profit Right to Play continues to support kids around the world; how a memorable childhood experience is motivating MLB star CC Sabathia to interact with more and more fans; MLB’s partnership with ESPN to “Shred Hate” and put an end to bullying; the NFL’s internal effort to be more sensitive to LGBTQ issues; Seattle Mariners’ Nelson Cruz and his efforts to support his hometown with education and sports; how one family inspired a football revolution for girls in a remote village in Pakistan; a field trip for a couple of youth sports team that exposed them to powerful lessons of redemption and forgiveness; and the upcoming Homeless World Cup, one of the great sporting events on the calendar.

Finally, we wanted to make you aware of an event taking place today in New York City. Even if you cannot attend, keep following the work being done by ASU’s Global Sport Institute, along with Adidas and New America. There will undoubtedly be more great events in the future.

Get Out There and Play: Policies and Attitudes Shaping Youth Sports Participation.
Seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Follow the discussion online using #globalsportASU and #adidasNYC and by following @adidasNYC and @Numericity.

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So, enjoy. And have a good week.

Doctor Football: All-American, NFL, Brain Surgeon. Next Stop: White House?
Every once in a while, he realizes the wide impact he has already, and he is humbled. In 2013, the Bahamas put him on a commemorative stamp along with the country’s three other Rhodes scholars. After his graduation from Florida State’s medical school—after having spent four years there not only as an ambassador for the school but also as a closer in coach Jimbo Fisher’s recruiting efforts for academically oriented enrollees—more than 75 people, most of them Bahamians, accepted an invitation to celebrate him at the Hotel Duval in downtown Tallahassee. Among the well-wishers were each of Myron’s brothers, a number of his professors, a few professional athletes and coaches and the CEO of Waffle House. Several of the more famous guests offered words of encouragement to Myron, but no moment meant more than when his family attempted to toast him. Each of his brothers is highly successful—Marchant was a financial adviser before becoming a stay-at-home dad, Marvis is a lawyer for the State Department, Mordecai is a nurse in Georgia, and McKinley is a high school football coach and teacher in Florida. But among them, only Marvis could speak without crying. They all believed Myron was the best of them, and it has never inspired jealousy, just pride.

How speed skaters and Right to Play are inspiring kids around the world
So beyond Koss, what’s the connection between Olympic skaters, usually found racing around cold ice rinks in high-tech suits, and children in refugee camps learning about teamwork, conflict resolution and health issues through Right to Play’s programs? Blair explained that when athletes like her get involved, they’re living examples of how sports can affect a child for the better. “We were kind brought up in sports-minded families. Sports helped mold us, and maybe to a certain extent take us away from the things that are not always perfect… There are so many things that sports do for a person.” On Right to Play’s website, Cheek said, “The thing I love about Right To Play is that these kids are living in areas of the world under circumstances that are no fault of their own, but that just don’t allow them to pursue their dreams in the same ways we have been afforded. Through Right To Play, kids have opportunities they would otherwise never have that impact the futures of their whole communities.” Jayner said that he especially appreciates Right to Play’s commitment to bring fun into the lives of children.

CC Sabathia Joins MindMeet To Share Knowledge With Fans For Charity
MindMeet is Sabathia’s first tech partnership, although he’s been an avid consumer. He said he’s always tried to have the newest and coolest gadgets and has been using wearable heart monitors to guide his training for years. “I tailor my workouts around that,” he said. “I do a boxing workout in the offseason that’s all around just my heart rate. Whenever it goes down, just getting back up and getting ready to go.” Now, Sabathia is glad that digital media technology can help him try to make a greater impact. Asked if he expects to use MindMeet to share mostly stories about his baseball career or his childhood journey, he replied, “I hope it’s all of it,” adding: “I’m open for anything, so whatever fans want to talk about.” That meeting with Stewart — short but “a huge deal for me,” Sabathia said — still guides his charitable ethos. “That’s something I still remember,” Sabathia said. “That’s all it took for me. It made me want to be able to give back and do that for another kid, which led me to start this foundation. If I can show up somewhere or somebody can see me on MindMeet and have that same effect that he had on me, then I think it’s all worth it.”

CC Sabathia (52) of the New York Yankees (Photo by Scott Clarke / ESPN Images)

MLB teams up with ESPN on Shred Hate bullying prevention initiative
Through Shred Hate, cooperating schools will utilize the “No Bully System®,” a non-disciplinary, innovative model that guides K-12 school leaders and teachers through an integrated series of leadership coaching sessions, teacher trainings and parent workshops to create and sustain a bully-free culture for the long term. The No Bully System provides schools with an alternative to suspension and promotes an environment revolving around cooperation and respect to ensure compliance with state and federal anti-bullying laws. A No Bully facilitator, who will be assigned to each participating school, will travel to administer trainings around the No Bully Coaching Leadership Team Guide and be available throughout the program for support. Program monitoring and evaluation will play a central role in Shred Hate. Key performance indicators will include, but are not limited to, the following: reduced solution of incidents of bullying, reduction of severity and incidents of bullying, active student engagement in solutions, active parent/guardian and community engagement in bullying resolution, and additional positive shifts in behavior. Major League Baseball will apply best practices and share key learnings from Shred Hate through its various youth initiatives. Additionally, No Bully will work with both MLB and ESPN to integrate baseball themed-components into curricula after the initial launch year.

NFL to promote equality from within
The NFL started employee affinity groups around 2010, with current groups focusing on women and black employees. According to NFL Executive Vice President & Chief Human Resources Officer Robert Gulliver, NFL Pride is launching now because the NFL has received what he called a “critical mass” to ensure the group thrives. “This year we have received a groundswell of employees essentially coming to our diversity council and indicating they wanted to set up a pride LGBTQ affinity group,” Gulliver stated. “Because there was finally a critical mass of employees who expressed interest, we were able to go forward and make this happen.” In addition to supporting LGBTQ employees and building best practices, the group will be used to drive the direction of the league on broader LGBTQ issues. Executives will be encouraged to work with NFL Pride whenever they are building “communications, marketing/product integrations, workplace best practices, and other challenges or opportunities.” The MLB has a similar LGBT and Allies Business Resource Group at the commissioner’s office, which recently volunteered clean-up services during New York Pride. The MLS has also been increasing its engagement with the LGBTQ community, hosting a number of events and initiatives over the last few months with Orlando City and New England Revolution.

A Seattle Mariner Explains How Baseball Helped Him Save His Hometown
My idea is to someday get a computer center in my hometown. That is the goal to help those people who aren’t going to school for some reason. I was thinking more about baseball players who left school and maybe spent three or four years playing ball and couldn’t keep playing. They had to go back to school, so we have to find a way to help them out with that so they can go there and get their degree and hopefully help them get a job. You always have time to do something. I make sure I do what I like to do and help kids and go and share my experience and make sure they understand that if you can dream it anything is possible. We went last year to three or four schools, and I was there talking to the kids, especially the ones who came from different countries. Just sharing my experience and telling them that anything you can dream you can make possible with hard work and effort. You can make your dreams come true. I had no clue baseball could help me help others. I didn’t know anything about how powerful baseball was. I could not be more pleased with what baseball has done for my life. Not only for me, but for the people around me. My community and family have all benefited from the game.

Seattle Mariners’ Nelson Cruz. Image by Keith Allison/Flickr.

How one family inspired a football revolution for girls in a village in Pakistan
Undeterred by the lack of funding, the team collected small donations here and there, dipping into their own pockets too to buy equipment and a few kits, enough to get them started. “We went there in June and we started training the girls. When we arrived at the ground there were girls already standing there waiting for us. They had heard that we were going to be teaching football. On the first day we had 90 girls with us, then it increased.” Despite what some may presume about the country and region Karishma says that “in Pakistan people are very supportive. “The best part about Shimshal and areas in the north is that they are very open-minded people and they don’t care about what people say.” They have found parents want their daughters to be engaged in sport and education and are open to finding a route away from their historically mapped-out marriages. They have offered something new and it has been progressively embraced by the community. “In Shimshal last month we had a tournament and people would come to us with their daughters, wanting their daughters to play with us.”

Girls play football on a dusty pitch in Shimshal. Photograph: Suzanne Wrack

Bus ride takes young football players on poignant trip of redemption
From one bus, one nine-hour trip, one journey, came a multitude of meaning for all involved. Keys dubbed it the Weapons of Love Tour. It started on July 26 and as the kids rode down the highway, the Bears’ campy theme song, The Super Bowl Shuffle, blared out of the bus’ speakers. Keys was stunned when one of the Brandon Bears players knew all the lyrics of the rap tune, in which the Chicago players boldly predicted a Super Bowl victory. For Keys, who appears in the video playing keyboards, the recording of the song represented more than a light-hearted moment during the championship run. The Bears recorded the song the day after its hopes of an unbeaten season came to an end in a 38-21 loss to the Miami Dolphins in the Orange Bowl. “My message to the kids was, regardless of where you are in life, you can turn a setback into a comeback,” Keys explained. “We turned a setback into a comeback by speaking about winning the Super Bowl and donating the funds to those in need.” Baigrie traveled with the kids, but they thought she was a team mom. Not until Manuel stood before them, 27 years to the day after he pulled the trigger outside Cold Storage in downtown Tampa, and told how a single mistake cost him half his life, did they learn Baigrie was the survivor. He gestured to Baigrie in the back of room and explained the bullet tore her jaw and face apart and almost took her life. “The kids looked around to see who he was speaking of,” Keys said. “Ian could not believe we had not told them.”

Debbie Baigrie, Bryan Stevenson and Ian Manuel recently shared their story of forgiveness with members of the Brandon Bears and Jackson Heights Junior Buccaneers. Manuel was 13 when he shot Baigrie.

To Hit a Passer and ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’: A Linebacker’s Two Sides
To many fans, Kennard is overshadowed on the Giants by the offensive stars Odell Beckham Jr. and Eli Manning — as well as more brash defensive teammates, such as Landon Collins and Jason Pierre-Paul — though he was a key component in 2016 for the second-best defense in the N.F.L. Kennard speaks softly and uses social media to occasionally promote things like canned salmon and wearable fitness monitors. But Kennard is a reader, a passionate one who feels strongly that people, especially children, should discover different worlds in the pages of books. “People think that reading is not cool,” Kennard said. “I know when I was younger I was outside playing games and stuff. It seems like kids are doing far too much video games, and on computer and on social media. I want them to get outside and get active. And if they are inside, find something productive to do. Like reading books and doing things that’s actually going to help them learn about things and gain perspective, rather than mindless things.” When Gomez heard about Kennard’s reading contest — which incorporated the hashtag #ReadingwithDK — she promptly drove her two children, Brendan and Haleigh, 8, to a Barnes & Noble to pick up the books. As the two devoured “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho, she transcribed their interpretations into Facebook comments that she posted on Kennard’s public profile.

The Giants’ Devon Kennard created a vibrant online book club this summer. Credit Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

Oslo prepares for the 15th edition of the Homeless World Cup
Over 500 male and female players from across the globe will be in attendance, in what is promised to be the biggest and most ambitious Homeless World Cup to date. This year’s event will see eight groups in the men’s competition and four in the women’s. Four new teams have been added to the roster this year as the tournament continues to grow in popularity. The men’s competition will see a team from Senegal playing for the first time, while teams from Ireland, Malawi and Northern Ireland will be debuting on the women’s side of the draw. Last year at the Glasgow World Cup, nearly 100,000 spectators flocked to go and witness the free-to-watch games, which were staged in George Square in the heart of the Scottish city. Organisers said that over two million people watched the tournament online. These viewing figures have been forecasted to increase again in 2017. On the opening day, the hosts will kick off the tournament with games against the talented Brazilian and Chile sides. Mexico, the winners of the men’s and women’s trophies in Glasgow will play on the following day. The Homeless World Cup Foundation and its partners have impacted the lives of 1 million homeless people around the globe since its inception. Their street football partners operate in more than 450 locations, reaching 100,000 homeless people every year. Each year, this network of partners hand pick the 500 players to compete in the annual World Cup tournament.

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