Sports Doing Good Newsletter, #279

Jan. 14 – Jan. 27, 2018

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

  1. From UFC champ to fireman: Stipe Miocic’s life outside the Octagon.
  2. PeacePlayers in Baltimore’s Park Heights uniting police and community through sports
  3. This Activist Uses Surfing Therapy to Rehabilitate Child Soldiers
  4. Maya Moore: A Pioneering Spirit
  5. Viral video helped young boy find his perfect role model
  6. ‘The Good Place’ producer Joe Mande on how Jacksonville Jaguars fandom became part of the show
  7. Why Nike Sees Social Responsibility As An Opportunity To Innovate
  8. NBA Launches New “Voices” Platform To address social injustice & promote inclusion
  9. Cricket Australia Picks an Indigenous Player and Searches for More
  10. The Super Bowl Generates 40 Tons Of Trash. It’s Possible None Of It Will Go To A Landfill.

Up2Us Coaches Nationwide Participate in MLK Day of Service (Up2Us Sports)
Forward Momentum (by Sloane Stephens) (The Players’ Tribune)
An overview and update on ModBox in India (Sport and Dev)
6 Ways Youth Athletes Can Keep Each Other Accountable to the Team (TrueSport)
PGA Tour tournaments surpassed $180 million generated for charity in 2017 (Beyond Sport)

January is National Mentoring Month. We bring it up even though we are at the tail end of the month because while January will end, the importance of mentoring will carry on for the next 11 months and beyond. So much has been said about the need to mentor others in all stages and facets of life. We look for mentors in school, in athletics, in our career, etc. Getting guidance from someone who has experienced life in a somewhat similar way can change the fortunes of individuals and communities alike.

One of our stories this week involves a young boy who was struggling to find his way while dealing with a physical challenge, missing part of one of his arms. Being different in any way, especially one so obvious, can be difficult to deal with. Just imagine how hard it would be for a 6-year old boy. But Jayce Crowder found hope and help just about 100 miles away in a fellow Iowan. Thanks to a viral video and the kindness of others, Jayce’s mom learned of teenager Trashaun Willis, who is also living with one arm. The two boys got to meet, connect, and establish a strong bond. Jayce found a friend, a mentor. And Trashaun got to see how much his own effort and determination over the years is having an impact on Jayce and so many others around the country. It is a tall order to get a 15-year old to appreciate that potential, but it looks like Trashaun is doing a great job of it.

The other stories we are happy to feature this week include: full-time UFC champion and part-time firefighter Stipe Miocic; the work being done by PeacePlayers in Baltimore; a program to help rehabilitate child soldiers; superstar WNBA champion Maya Moore; the fun that one TV show had with the improbable success of the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars; corporate social responsibility leader Nike; a new effort by the NBA to help its players articulate their thoughts on injustice and social inclusion; the presence of indigenous players on Australia’s national sports teams; and how the unmatched consumerism tied to the Super Bowl may end up NOT having a major negative environmental impact.

Finally, we would like to congratulate everyone involved with the launch of Sport for Good NYC, especially Laureus USA and Nike. Summoning up the respective strengths and resources of individuals and organizations in the sport for development world, and doing it by going city by city, will surely help engineer valuable advances for everyone involved. We wish them the best.

Please continue to send along your stories. You are both our audience and our best source of stories. Our Twitter handle is @sportsdoinggood, and you can find us at

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So, enjoy. And have a good week.

From UFC champ to fireman: Stipe Miocic’s life outside the Octagon
When Miocic isn’t the “baddest man on the planet,” he works part-time at the Valley View Fire Department in Cleveland. This requires at least 12 hours a week devoted to everything from putting out fires to helping resuscitate someone who has gone unconscious. Less than two weeks away from arguably the biggest fight of his life — a title bout against Francis Ngannou at UFC 220 in Boston on January 20 — Miocic worked a shift from 7:30 p.m. until 7:30 a.m. His primary task, according to Fire Chief Ken Papesh, is as a paramedic working on medical calls. When not doing this, he’s helping to make sure equipment is working properly and ready to go when needed. “Unfortunately it seems like a more junior-level role,” Papesh says, “But it’s probably the most important role in the station.” Miocic first came into the station around 2010 after 18 months of school and eight weeks of training. His jovial personality stood out immediately, and since that time little has changed. “He’s a goof,” Papesh says. “He was as genuine as a guy then as is he now. All of this fame and celebrity, he is still the same guy that walked into the station and met me. He’s salt of the earth.”

Stipe Miocic works part-time each week as a fire fighter at Valley View Fire Department in Cleveland. Courtesy of Jamie Meklemburg

PeacePlayers in Baltimore’s Park Heights uniting police and community through sports
As one of about two dozen volunteer coaches for PeacePlayers International in the Northwest Baltimore neighborhood, Bannerman helps elementary and middle school students polish their basketball skills. But off the court, he acts as a mentor, along with about 15 other city officers who help out during police shifts or on their own time. PeacePlayers, which uses basketball to unite communities in conflict, launched in Baltimore last summer with a camp at KIPP Ujima Village Academy. It now offers programs four days a week in Park Heights, at the community center and at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary/Middle School. On Saturday, the after-school program celebrated “equality through sport,” in honor of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend with a skills clinic at Langston Hughes Community Center. Dressed in black T-shirts that read “equality,” students jammed the community center’s gym, lining up to make bank shots, pass to teammates and dribble two balls at once around cones. Their coaches shouted encouragement and offered high-fives.

Baltimore, Md–1/13/18–Detective Joe Bannerman lines up a shot as Tamesha Bonds, 9, watches. They are at the PeacePlayers International basketball event to promote equality and change perceptions in honor of MLK weekend. Banner is among the basketball coaches from the Baltimore City Police Department working to change perceptions and foster positive relationships between young people and law enforcement officers. The event is held at the Langston Hughes Community Center in Park Heights. Kim Hairston/Baltimore Sun.

This Activist Uses Surfing Therapy to Rehabilitate Child Soldiers
“We sent some boards and instruction manuals, with the goal of helping Elman Peace integrate surf therapy to their offering,” Tim Conibear, the founding director of Waves for Change told VICE Impact. Set up in 2009 in South Africa, Waves for Change began as a small surfing club in Masiphumelele Township and quickly grew when two community members – Apish Tshetsha and Bongani Ndlovu – volunteered to lead and grow the club. After a few sessions, the trio quickly recognized that surfing was an effective way to engage young people. Daily exposure to violence and stress meant many were suffering from emotional and psychological stress, which was manifesting itself in anti-social and high-risk behaviour. Why is surfing considered therapeutic? “Being outside and connected to nature is important. It helps reconnect with feelings and emotions that often get lost in highly traumatic situations. Surfing itself is also highly rewarding. Achieving something you never thought possible is key, it helps build confidence and a positive identity,” Conibear told VICE Impact. “Young people growing up in conflict zones experience a huge amount of trauma. In these contexts, it’s not always easy to provide them with an outlet to explore what’s happened, and find new ways of coping with a wave of new emotions and feelings. Surf Therapy, and indeed sport in general, is a fantastic way to help young people develop positive personal identities.”

Image via Sebastian Lindstrom.

Maya Moore: A Pioneering Spirit
“Dear Black Athlete, Don’t ever forget that you are a citizen—a part of a community. With being an athlete there comes privilege and responsibility—mainly the responsibility to never stop seeking to understand your fellow citizen and neighbor—more importantly, the ones who aren’t exactly like you. This has been my journey as I’ve stepped into the world of mass incarceration in America and how this phenomenon has unfairly impacted black and brown men and families. I’ve witnessed double standards and unchecked power in our home of the United States and I’m moved to act. The American dream of freedom for all of its diverse citizens can only work if we, the people, work it! And as athletes, we know the process to achieving goals better than most. Don’t be afraid to use your voice to challenge our elected leaders to rise. But let us also remind ourselves to rise as we step outside of our comfort zone to see people. Really see them.” Be genuine, be thoughtful, be selfless and watch the momentum build as others join in.

Lindsay Whalen #13, Maya Moore #23, Rebekkah Brunson #32, and Seimone Augustus #33 of the Minnesota Lynx attend a press conference before the game against the Dallas Wings on July 9, 2016 at Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Viral video helped young boy find his perfect role model
As soon as introductions were done between the boys in April, the two bonded like “two kids in a candy store,” Williams laughed. They shot baskets. Willis taught Jayce to finish with a high release and backspin. He gave Jayce a shirt that says, “Ten fingers are overrated.” They rode bikes around the hallways. They took plenty of photos. They played a lot of hide-and-seek. Jayce thinks he won. “Because I hide very good,” he said, clutching a signed basketball Willis gave him that day. Willis also got serious with Jayce. He talked about their left arms — or lack thereof. He told Jayce he was perfect the way God made him. He said to not let anyone drag him down, and that words don’t need to shake his confidence. “It reassured me,” said Cortney Lewis, who became friends with Willis’ mom, Jennifer Williams, and regularly texts her for advice. “I know in my heart that everything’s going to be OK, but it reassured me that, I mean Trashaun’s grown up to be a wonderful kid. And I know, at some point, Jayce is too. It’s just inspiring to watch and see where he’s at in life. It’s going to be OK. As a parent, that’s all you want to know: that everything’s going to be OK.

Trashaun Willis, left, of Washington, Iowa, and Jayce Crowder, of east Des Moines, pose for photos together during their spring meeting at Washington Middle School. (Photo: (Photo: Courtesy of Cortney Lewis)

‘The Good Place’ producer Joe Mande on how Jacksonville Jaguars fandom became part of the show
The best storyline in sports and entertainment right now is the love affair that Jason Mendoza, a character on the TV show The Good Place, has with the Jacksonville Jaguars and their quarterback, Blake Bortles. Jason, played by actor Manny Jacinto, is the dumbest, most endearing, and maybe only Jaguars fan in the history of television. Part of the running joke in the first two seasons is that the team is terrible. At one point Jason — who is dead because the show takes place in the afterlife — asks another character, Michael, if Jacksonville has won the Super Bowl since his death. Michael just laughs. “Oh you’re serious,” he says, when he realizes that Jason expects an answer. “No.” “Will they ever win the Super Bowl?” Jason asks. “Jason, I can’t predict the future. But no,” Michael says, laughing. “They won’t.” BUT WAIT, THERE’S HOPE! Jacksonville made it to the playoffs this year! Last week, fiction became fact when comedian Joe Mande, one of the show’s producers, and Jacinto went to the Wild Card Game in Jacksonville and watched the Jags beat the Bills.

Manny Jacinto, who plays Jaguars fan Jason Mendoza on The Good Place, at the Jaguars playoff game against the Bills. Jacksonville Jaguars Twitter

Why Nike Sees Social Responsibility As An Opportunity To Innovate
Environmental protection and equal opportunity are two of today’s most pressing global issues. Nike sustainability head Hannah Jones and soccer star Abby Wambach talk with Fast Company‘s Jill Bernstein about how international corporations and individuals alike can bring meaningful change to the world.
Fast Company: How did you two become challengers of the status quo?
Abby Wambach: The thing that led me into activism is that I am a little different. I’m so lucky for that. I always try to fight for the little guy or the voiceless, because in certain parts of my life I’m the minority, whether because I’m gay or a woman. That’s where any true activism is born—my heartbreaks. Find out what breaks your heart and do whatever you can to fix it.
Hannah Jones: When I was 16, I had a white Mohawk and I was a DJ on a pirate radio station that kept getting raided by police. Let’s just say that my parents didn’t think that was an entirely good career plan. But I had a mentor who sat me down one day and said, “Hannah, at some stage you’re going to have to work out for yourself whether you are more powerful shouting at the system from the outside or changing it from the inside.” That has guided everything I’ve done ever since.

Hannah Jones and Abby Wambach
[Photo: Herring & Herring; Set Designer: Wunderkind; Grooming: Kim White, Zuleika Viera]

NBA Launches New “Voices” Platform To address social injustice & promote inclusion
“The values of equality, diversity, respect, teamwork, they really are the foundation of our game and our growth. So the opportunity to highlight those values, to speak out on them, to bring communities together and to not be afraid to have difficult conversations, those are all the things that our players are thinking about and doing.” “They want to be in a position where they can effect real change and be connected to organizations that are doing the good, hard and important work in their communities.” “I think the fight for equality, justice, inclusion, mutual respect and better understanding between cultures and people who disagree and [are] trying to do so respectfully – this is work that our guys are going to be at for a long time. And they want to be.”

Cricket Australia Picks an Indigenous Player and Searches for More
In this context, Monday’s selection of D’Arcy Short for Australia’s Twenty20 internationals against England and New Zealand at the start of next month was a powerful symbol of change. Short was chosen by Australia’s national selectors because he is an explosive T20 batsman; he also happens to have Indigenous heritage, making him a member of an exclusive club: Only a handful of Indigenous cricketers have ever represented Australia in international competition. His selection is another sign of progress in a campaign by cricket authorities to bring more diversity into the game. Every Australian state and territory association, for example, now has a staff member specifically responsible for driving Indigenous participation programs, and the country’s top league both recently held themed matches to bring attention to those efforts. Playing numbers among Indigenous people have risen significantly in recent years — from 8,000 in 2011-12 to 54,000 in 2016-17, according to the governing body’s figures — but still lag behind those for Australian rules football, the sport that traditionally rivals cricket for the mantle of Australia’s favorite game.

Cricket fans displaying an indigenous banner during a match in December 2016. Cricket Australia, which oversees the sport in the country, has created programs and themed events to increase participation among indigenous Australians. Credit Michael Dodge/Getty Images

The Super Bowl Generates 40 Tons Of Trash. It’s Possible None Of It Will Go To A Landfill.
The Super Bowl can bring a ton of benefits to its host city. But it also brings some pretty huge burdens. About a million people will flock to the Twin Cities for this year’s game and celebrations. That’s a lot of crowds, a lot of traffic, and a lot of garbage. The first two are tough to avoid, but there’s a plan in place to help with the latter. This year, some of the game’s corporate partners are joining forces to host Super Bowl’s first zero-waste legacy project. U.S. Bank Stadium, the NFL, Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, PepsiCo, and food service provider Aramark are teaming up for the lofty endeavor of producing no waste during the main event. That doesn’t mean fans won’t throw anything away — instead, organizers hope to keep the more than 40 tons of trash typically generated during a Super Bowl out of the landfill. 90% of the garbage from the game, food waste and paper, will be composted or recycled. The remaining 10% of waste will likely be plastics that can’t be reused. These will go to a waste-to-energy incinerator where it will be burned and converted to power. (These facilities aren’t without controversy, as the emissions may affect air quality over time.)

Waste bins separating recyclables, compost, and trash at the Summer X Games. Photo by Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images.

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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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