Sports Doing Good Newsletter, #272

Sept. 24 – Oct. 7, 2017

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

  1. Pat Summitt Film Premiere a Magical Night of Surprises
  2. As the Women’s Super League kicks off, the sport continues to grow with clever digital strategy
  3. Red Sox CEO and president Sam Kennedy outlines the Take the Lead initiative
  4. From performance to participation: The future of sport and development in India
  5. Seahawks’ players start Equality & Justice for All Action Fund
  6. Why Playing a Sport Should Be Your New Workout
  7. RISE launches voter registration campaign for pro athletes
  8. San Francisco Giants receive award for work with youth
  9. Sports Team Philanthropy: A Closer Look in One City
  10. A 5-foot-7 Georgetown grad became Maryland football’s most unlikely player

Ambassador Kim Vandenberg hosts Swim Clinic for New Orleans Youth (Up2Us Sports)
Discovery Education, NFL and AHA Inspire a Healthier Generation with NFL PLAY 60 (Beyond Sport)
2025: The era of e-volunteers in focus (Sport and Dev)
So … About My Hair (by Jeremy Lin) (The Players’ Tribune)
2018 FIL Men’s World Lacrosse Championship Focused On Development & Social Impact (Beyond Sport)


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Pat Summitt Film Premiere a Magical Night of Surprises
A girl’s basketball coach from the northern Iraqi city of Sulaymaniyah, and the first female basketball coach in her country, Mohammed walked on stage and the crowd welcomed her with a standing ovation. During a public Q&A session later, a United States military veteran who served during the Gulf War recounted her own struggles as a woman in Iraq and thanked Mohammed for not giving up against the odds. The two women embraced and the crowd again rose to applaud, wiping away tears. “To be honest, I think Knoxville needed this moment. To remember Coach Summitt, to laugh and cry together, and to find hope in the next generation of women and girls who will carry her legacy forward. It was a special night and one that I hope inspires simple acts of kindness and healing throughout the world, “ Huffman said. In 2007, Hillyer met a teenage Mohammed while leading basketball camps in Sulaymaniyah. The young woman dreamed of one day leading her own camps for girls in her community. But, there were only a handful of flat basketballs and a dire lack of equipment and support. As UT doctoral students, Hillyer and Huffman reached out to Summitt for extra basketballs to take back to the girls of Iraq. Summitt’s response was what Warlick called nothing out of the ordinary for the winningest coach in NCAA basketball history: she emptied the closets, sending basketballs, uniforms, equipment, and a recorded video message challenging the girls to never give up in their pursuit of basketball.

As the Women’s Super League kicks off, the sport continues to grow with clever digital strategy
The measure of success for a growing sport should not be the number of people who sit down and watch every minute of the game. It should be about getting more people to follow the sport throughout the season, and getting more people to engage with it. In the end, what matters isn’t really the numbers who watch from start to finish, but that more and more people know which teams are doing well, who the best players are, and what the storylines of the season are. That’s what gets people to tune in over the long run: people like the soap opera of sport. Eventually, of course, the ultimate goal is that more people watch every game. But giving a potential new audience the option to dip in and out of some live-streams for free, or to watch highlights of all the games in one place, or to find out where to follow teams and players on social media is vital for growing fans rather than just viewers. The FA look to have done a great job of making all of this available, and also given interested people the opportunity to get involved themselves, to find videos to help young aspiring players with their techniques and give them a resource to find ways to get involved and participation opportunities in their area.

Red Sox CEO and president Sam Kennedy outlines the Take the Lead initiative
Fifteen years later, Baltimore Orioles outfielder Adam Jones was subjected to a bag of peanuts and racial slurs being hurled at him on May 1, and the following day a white father watching with his biracial son and African-American father-in-law was within earshot of a fan saying the Kenyan artist singing the national anthem was “n—–ing it up.” Kennedy began working on a plan to address racism at the ballpark, and it ultimately bloomed into all five professional teams — Red Sox, Celtics, Bruins, Patriots and Revolution — and Boston leaders meeting to map out how they could begin to remedy racism at Boston sports venues. Kennedy sees the Take the Lead initiative as an opportunity for the organization to live up to the promises made in 2002. He spoke to The Undefeated about how Take the Lead came to be, what he hopes it achieves and how he hopes players understand the power they have and use their clout to speak up about the issues that affect and matter to them.

Boston’s pro sports teams are banding together to end racism at their venues

From performance to participation: The future of sport and development in India
Currently in India, sport is all about winning medals at the Olympics and winning laurels for the country. But this can only be achieved when sport thrives at the grassroots, providing children and youth with more than just a chance to play and compete; it would help them to become well-rounded, empowered individuals. Sport for development programmes in the future in India will help achieve the dual role of introducing children to physical activity and sports and aiding in their holistic development. Currently, sport in India is top heavy, with too much focus on elite performance and apathy towards taking sport as a fun activity to the young masses. This is a gap that the sport and development sector can fill, by ensuring greater access to, and participation of, youth and children in sport at the grassroots, while at the same time ensuring that they take away much more than just learning about sports from the programmes delivered. This approach will thrive through educational institutions, including schools and colleges in both rural and urban India, especially in government and private institutions catering to marginalised populations.

Seahawks’ players start Equality & Justice for All Action Fund
The fund is designed “to support education and leadership programs addressing equality and justice.” The team’s website bills the fund as “a tangible way for individuals or businesses to make a difference fighting injustice and inequality by supporting leadership and education programs.” Donations can be made at While the fund was revealed less than a week after the Seahawks decided to stay in the locker room during the anthem prior to last Sunday’s game at Tennessee in reaction to comments made earlier by president Donald Trump critical of the league and its players, Seattle receiver Doug Baldwin said the idea has been in the works for roughly a year-and-a-half. “I think it’s kind of been this whole process of when would be the right time because you need the momentum to kind of gain the funds as well,” Baldwin said. “So we thought that this was a unique and beautiful time to do it.” The team says the fund will be housed at the Seattle Foundation,  a nonprofit that manages nearly $1 billion in philanthropic investments. Baldwin said among topics that could be targets for funding is training for police officers particularly in the area of de-escalation.

Why Playing a Sport Should Be Your New Workout
People who play a sport are more likely to stay healthy and fit as they age, according to a new study published in BMJ Open, compared to those who do other types of physical activity. Finding a sport you love early in life—and playing it often—may be the key to staying active in your 70s, 80s and beyond. The transition from middle age to old age is often one of slowing down. Retirement or injuries, for example, can lead to major life changes and affect the amount of physical activity a person gets on a regular basis. Yet staying active is vital to preserving mental and physical health—and the ability to live independently—as people age. Daniel Aggio, a doctoral student at University College London, and his colleagues wanted to see who tended to keep up active habits over time. They analyzed data from nearly 3,500 men, collected over 20 years, and found that men who were physically active in their 40s and 50s were nearly three times as likely to be active in later decades, compared to those who were sedentary in middle age. That wasn’t very surprising. The more interesting finding emerged when they looked at how these men were staying active. Just about 50% of middle-aged men played sports or did other formal exercise at least occasionally, and this remained relatively stable over the 20-year study.

RISE launches voter registration campaign for pro athletes
The Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE) will lead a yearlong national campaign, RISE to Vote, to register professional athletes to vote and encourage them to spread the important message of voting to their fans. RISE to Vote’s launch coincides with National Voter Registration Day on Tuesday, Sept. 26, and the nonpartisan campaign aims to register as many professional athletes as possible by the next National Voter Registration Day – Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2018. “At RISE, we empower professional athletes to be solution-oriented advocates for change to improve race relations and drive social progress,” said Jocelyn Benson, RISE CEO. “Athletes have proven their ability to unite people of different backgrounds around these important causes and have shown their willingness to take action to create positive change in their communities. Registering to vote and being an engaged citizen is an essential component of seeking social change. Through RISE to Vote, we are providing those athletes who may not be registered with an opportunity to demonstrate the importance of being an informed and engaged citizen. We envision this movement beginning with professional athletes and growing to one that involves team personnel, fans and student-athletes who follow in the steps of their role models.”

San Francisco Giants receive award for work with youth
“Sports and sports teams have a unique power to galvanize communities and to serve as a gathering point, in good times and in times that aren’t so good, as well,” said Sue Petersen, executive director of the Giants Community Fund. “We are deeply touched and honored to receive the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Sports Award. I want to give a 3,000-mile shoutout to our management and our ownership for making the community a priority in our mission statement. That’s for the organization, for the team. That certainly provides us with firm footing for the foundation, for our fund to do our work. “Together with experts in the fields of youth development and education and health, we created a curriculum that emphasizes the value of good character, health, education and violence prevention. After more than 20 years of gathering input and making program improvements, we are very proud to say that we have helped to change habits and attitudes. For many of these children, they are learning about some of these concepts for the very first time.” In her acceptance speech, Petersen relayed something that was expressed to her by one Junior Giants coach.

Sue Petersen, standing with Richard Besser, accepts the award for the Giants Community Fund.Bill Denver

Sports Team Philanthropy: A Closer Look in One City
Professional athletes, meanwhile, have a long history of adopting charitable causes they identify with and drawing attention to certain issues. Because of their high-profile jobs, they have the power to bring little-known causes to light in a way that other philanthropists simply can’t in American society. With that influence also comes a certain level of responsibility. Just as an athlete’s actions on and off the field affect public perception of the team, so can the nonprofit or cause that he or she is championing. As we’ve reported, some athletes are quite serious and dedicated when it comes to philanthropy. Others have barely thought about it. Typically, though, it’s franchise management—not the athletes—that spearhead sports philanthropy in different cities. But effective local giving can be harder than it looks. There’s a big gap between old-style sports charity work, like signed memorabilia for an auction or players making a public appearance at a fundraiser, and targeted grantmaking based on a strategic plan. Some teams do this better than others, and a good example of a franchise that seems to know what it doing on the philanthropy front is the Philadelphia Eagles. So, as an example of how sports philanthropy is unfolding in America today, we turn our attention to Philadelphia.

photo: dean bertoncelj/shutterstock

A 5-foot-7 Georgetown grad became Maryland football’s most unlikely player
So why will he be kicking field goals against Ohio State this weekend? Darmstadter — who grew up in Alexandria and went to high school at George Mason — finished his degree at Georgetown last year with a year of eligibility remaining. He had twice received second-team all-Patriot League honors, set Georgetown records in field goals made and field goal percentage and never forgot his middle-school fantasies: playing on television, playing in a bowl game, playing at the highest level. Why not take a shot? He wound up attracting a solid list of schools that would welcome him as a preferred walk-on, including Pitt, Arizona, Northwestern and ECU. But he also was applying for jobs as a finance analyst — getting at least two full-time offers. and wasn’t sure which path to follow. His parents had their view, and it didn’t involve road trips to Columbus or a year potentially spent as Maryland’s backup. “When you send your kid to Georgetown, I guess you expect him to get a job when he comes out,” his father said. “I mean, what was he looking for? .?.?. But he said ‘Dad, I just want to be part of it.’” Darmstadter also talked to former Georgetown players, and they had a different view. They told him he had 40 years of working in his future. They told him this was his last chance to go for it. One asked him what he’d do in a world with no money; “Oh, I’d go play football,” Darmstadter said. “There’s your answer,” came the reply.

Henry Darmstadter connects on a 51-yard field goal. (Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)

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