Sports Doing Good Newsletter, #289

June 3 – June 16, 2018

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

  1. How skateboarding flipped its white male image and welcomed the whole world
  2. New James Cameron Documentary Explores The Athlete Vegan Movement
  3. Capturing Action Sports as a Quadriplegic Photographer
  4. How the Women of Iran Are Winning Their Own World Cup Battle
  5. A Test of nerves for Afghanistan in debut against India
  6. Jets’ Bridgewater positive in comeback from ‘scary’ injury
  7. The Miracle on Iceland
  8. Anne Donovan played essential role in growth of women’s basketball
  9. George Galanopoulos’s Unlikely Journey From Basketball Dreamer to Uganda Head Coach
  10. Embracing change is the most crucial hurdle facing the sports industry today

streetfootballworld Launches Bold New LGBTQ Initiative – #PLAYPROUD (Beyond Sport)
Egypt Is Back (by Essam El-Hadary) (The Players’ Tribune)
“Now, it’s for footballers to play their part” (Peace and Sport)
Olympic Champion inspires an Olympic aspirant cutting across generations and borders (Sport and Dev)
Just Challenge Raises Over $350,000 USD for Laureus Sport for Good (Laureus)

Trying to be good, or great, while also being “different” is often a tough road to take. Societal assumptions about certain individuals or groups add a layer or layers of complexity to the task at hand. Whether it is being denied access or financial and organizational resources, or simply a lack of basic support, these individuals must be resolute. Doing things on their own, for example, is often their norm.

All of our stories this week involve individuals and groups whose strength and determination in the face of obstacles big and small have led to small and seismic changes in the world of sports. Our first story this week looks at the wonderful world of skateboard and its changing makeup, with girls/women and boys/men of color expanding the sport way beyond its longstanding position as a sport only for young, white males. Our second story discusses the somewhat surprising practice of veganism infiltrating the world of sport, including professional sport. It seems you can be an elite athlete and not eat meat.

The rest of the stories also are populated by these types of individuals and groups, including: paraplegic sports photographer Loren Worthington; women from Iran showing they too are fans of the beautiful game and want to support their national team during the World Cup; the Afghani cricket team emerging from decades of subpar resources to earn a test against the mighty team from India; a highly acclaimed football player, the New York Jets’ Teddy Bridgewater, trying to reestablish himself after a devastating knee injury; the once underestimated national men’s soccer team from Iceland; the late Anne Donovan, whose Hall of Fame career helped create the foundation needed to see girls/women’s basketball develop at the college and professional levels; George Galanopoulos’s “unlikely journey from basketball dreamer to Uganda head coach; and the small and big changes in sports that may give us a much different world than we are used to when it comes to the games we love to watch and play.

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So, enjoy. And have a good week.

How skateboarding flipped its white male image and welcomed the whole world
Pushing Boarders extended skateboarding’s landscape into the creative world of photography, writing and academic research. Images by Fred Mortagne, Arto Saari, Samuel McGuire and others captured skateboarding culture in locations as far flung as Peru and Palestine. Work by authors and academics including Paul O’Connor, Åsa Bäckström, Gregory Snyder, Sander Ho?lsgens, Dwayne Dixon, Tara Jepsen, Becky Beal, Thom Callan-Riley, Ocean Howell and myself delved into topics such as videography, public space, skate competitions, education, age, regionalism and professionalism. This diversity and depth of experience showed how skateboarding operates in close relation to other exploratory and artistic practices, encouraging experimentation, innovation and even entrepreneurialism. Above all, Pushing Boarders delivered a powerful message about skateboarding and its role in society as a whole: skateboarding is at its best when it openly questions, explores and welcomes – rather than when it is narrowly comfortable, judgemental or exclusionary. As the French-born, Malmö-based, transgender and non-binary identifying Marie Dabbabie asserted, “cool dude masculinity no longer defines skateboarding”. Freed from the confines of California, having cast aside narrow stereotypes as to who a rider should be, skateboarding’s new found diversity is its greatest strength.

New James Cameron Documentary Explores The Athlete Vegan Movement
The reasons athletes and normal folks alike experience these physical changes are multifold. “A whole food plant-based diet is inherently rich in unprocessed carbohydrates,” Dr. James Loomis, a plant-based-diet doctor interviewed in the documentary, explains. “It helps us maintain adequate glycogen stores, which is the energy we use for shorter duration exercise and short bursts of energy.” Inflammation is also reduced significantly while antioxidant consumption rises, leading to improved recovery time. “The compounds that make blueberries blue or raspberries red or sweet potatoes orange—those are all very potent antioxidants. By eating a plant-based diet, it significantly increases your ability to offset this oxidative stress.” Of course, people often ask: But where do you get your protein? “There is more than enough protein in the plant-based diet to help build and repair muscle and body tissue after athletic performance,” Loomis says. “I mean, you don’t see mountain gorillas or elephants and ask, ‘Oh my God, where do they get their protein?’ But what do they eat? Well, they eat plants.” Plant-based athletes load up on protein by eating lentils, beans, tofu, seitan, peanut and almond butter, and seeds, among other foods, according to Derek Tresize, a professional vegan bodybuilder.

Capturing Action Sports as a Quadriplegic Photographer
Loren Worthington is a photographer with a unique perspective, both literally and figuratively. A spinal cord injury cost Worthington the use of three of his limbs and with that, his participation in sports. Almost two decades later, he reconnected with his passion for athletics, but this time from behind a photographer’s lens. Though confined to a wheelchair, Worthington has distinguished himself with his photographs of para-athletes in the United States and at the Rio 2016 Paralympics.
(video, Caption: Great Big Story – This story is a part of our Human Condition series. Come along and let us connect you to some of the most peculiar, stirring, extraordinary, and distinctive people in the world.

How the Women of Iran Are Winning Their Own World Cup Battle
Parisa Artin was among the first Iranians to touch down on Russian soil. She arrived in Moscow at the beginning of the week with friends and family, both men and women, to soak up the World Cup atmosphere. Like many women who have made a similar journey, she feels strongly about making a statement to her government back home about the right to watch football. But more than that, she genuinely loves the game. “We really want to be able to enter stadiums in our own country,” she said. “We want to support our team. It is not fair; we want freedom for all. So many women are real supporters of football but have to follow on the television or social media. Our players are not used to seeing Iranian women cheering for them at the game. “They sometimes see women from other countries at matches, but not from Iran. All we want is to be able to put our face paint on, go and watch the game, and support our team.” By Thursday most Iranians were making their way to St. Petersburg ahead of their opening match against Morocco. Matchday for Iran, and even with six hours until kick-off, fans begin to stream towards the ground—a half-hour journey from where most supporters are staying. In the centre of town they have been mingling with Moroccans for the past 24 hours, taking photos and facing off for chants while proudly waving their flags. The women of Iran are clearly delighted to be part of things. They have faces painted, banners wrapped around them, smiles on their faces.

Alex Livesey/Getty Images

A Test of nerves for Afghanistan in debut against India
Shaken by the horrors of war, Afghanistan will take a mighty step in cricket history when captain Asghar Stanikzai leads his team out for their first ever Test match against India on Thursday. Conflict has scarred virtually every member of the team and they are impoverished compared with their opponents, the world’s wealthiest cricket nation. But Stanikzai said they are determined to show their rise to a Test nation less than two decades after being recognised by the International Cricket Council in 2001 is merited. “It’s a great moment for us as we embark on our Test journey,” said Stanikzai, who has been a member of the Afghanistan side since they gained one-day international status in 2009. “To be competing against the best on the Test rankings table is something to be proud of and we will try to do our best in whatever chances we get and exhibit the skills the players possess individually as well as collectively as a team.” Afghan cricket grew out of the refugee camps in Pakistan where many families were based after they fled the Afghan conflict in the 1980s and 1990s. Now the country is producing world-beaters like 19-year-old spinner Rashid Khan. In March, the teenager became the fastest bowler to reach 100 one-day international wickets, and is currently the world’s top-ranked Twenty20 bowler.

Jets’ Bridgewater positive in comeback from ‘scary’ injury
His career was in jeopardy, and at one point, saving his mangled left leg was the only thing that mattered. “It was scary,” Bridgewater said while managing a smile. “But at the end of the day, I was still breathing. That was my biggest takeaway from it. … When there’s someone out there whose situation is worse than yours, that’s the first thing that came into my mind. Like, ‘Man, I don’t know what just happened, but I know there’s someone out there who’s going through something worse than I am, so I just have to keep my faith and believe that everything’s going to be all right.’” Bridgewater gets his perseverance and never-quit attitude from his mother, Rose Murphy, who raised him and his three siblings in the Miami area. She’s a breast cancer survivor who has been in remission for several years, something that is a source of pride for Bridgewater. He also counts her as his biggest supporter. “She was a fighter, so I witnessed her fight with her battle with breast cancer,” Bridgewater said. “I took away those traits and attitude. Whenever she was down — well, she was never really down because she would always say, ‘There’s someone out there whose situation is way worse than mine, so I can’t be down, plus the cancer feeds off negativity, so I have to be positive.’ “So that’s why I feel like I’m just this positive guy. Watching her continue to smile and stay upbeat throughout her toughest times in life had a huge impact on me.”

New York Jets quarterback Teddy Bridgewater talks to the media at the NFL football team’s training camp, Tuesday, June 12, 2018, in Florham Park, N.J. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

The Miracle on Iceland
What other nations might consider, though, is the role football plays in Icelandic life. President Johannesson’s father was studying at San Jose State in the 1960s when John Carlos and Tommie Smith, who later raised their fists at the 1968 Olympics, were matriculating. He came home to Iceland (and a career coaching team handball) with the notion that sport has to power to effect change. A generation later, his son is prouder of Iceland’s participation levels than of whatever might happen in Russia. From the highest teen smoking and alcoholism rates in Western Europe 20 years ago, Iceland’s are now literally the lowest, and Johannesson believes football has been instrumental. “I want sports to be a force for good in society,” he says. “I see success at the top almost as a side issue.” Leaning forward in the patterned armchair where he has been sitting, Johannesson cautions against making a connection between a nation’s athletic success and the values advanced by its government, citing East Germany. Yet he also knows there’s something to be said for promoting resilience, grit and persistence against overwhelming odds. If those ideals can be packaged in blue uniforms and displayed on the biggest stage, well, he isn’t fighting it. “We as a society are not better than other societies because we’re good at football,” he says. “But we’re certainly going to enjoy this while it lasts.” He spreads his arms wide. “And long may it last!” he proclaims. Now, if you’ll excuse him, the president has sandwiches to make.

Tiny Iceland shocked the world by qualifying for its first World Cup. In Russia, the goal is simple: Shock the world again.

Anne Donovan played essential role in growth of women’s basketball
On the floor was a very tall, thin, 18-year-old center. A Catholic-school girl from New Jersey whose gentle nature coexisted with her determined competitiveness. Anne Donovan had always loved being on a team but never wanted to stand out. At 6-foot-8, she didn’t have a choice. Yet somehow, her Old Dominion point guard, Nancy Lieberman, briefly lost sight of Donovan in that game. Crazy as it sounds, Donovan was obscured by one of the few women bigger than she was: the Soviets’ 7-foot-2, 250-pound star center, Uljana Semjonova. The memory made Lieberman smile through her tears Wednesday night after the shocking news that Donovan, 56, had died from heart failure. “I’m looking all over, like, ‘Where the heck is Anne?'” Lieberman said. “She was behind Semjonova. I told Anne, ‘Look, you can’t move her, but you’re just going to have to fight to get in front of her.’ “But she was so amazing even back then. Nothing really rattled her. Here’s Anne, this gangly freshman doing her thing.” Donovan’s death stunned the women’s basketball world. It was heart-breaking news that was hard to believe. On Saturday, Donovan was at the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in Knoxville, Tennessee, for the induction of her high school coach, Rose Marie Battaglia. The 89-year-old referenced Donovan in her speech, sharing a story that summed up the player and the person.

Anne Donovan, left, with Cheryl Miller, won Olympic gold medals with USA Basketball in 1984 and ’88 as a player. She then coached the 2008 U.S. squad to the gold medal at the Beijing Games. AP Photo/Ray Stubblebine

George Galanopoulos’s Unlikely Journey From Basketball Dreamer to Uganda Head Coach
Galanopoulos’s coaching odyssey has spanned the entire globe and all levels of basketball, yet incidentally assuming charge of Uganda’s program may one day prove a unique backdrop to an emerging head coach in the NBA. In interviewing young assistants, teams are persistently searching for candidates with previous leadership experience. “There’s gonna come a day when it pays off for him,” Hunt says. “Somebody is going to take a chance on him because he’s led a group. George is checking the box.” The Phoenix Suns recently handpicked former Utah Jazz assistant Igor Kokoškov after nearly a decade piloting Georgia and Slovenia’s respective national teams. For now, Galanopoulos remains focused on leading Uganda’s rise to African basketball prominence and immersing himself within his players’ culture. “You realize it’s so much more than something to put on your resume,” he says. Besides, Uganda winning the African Qualifiers would be etched in indelible history books far grander than any CV.

“Why can’t we be one of the top teams in the world?” The Crossover traces George Galanopoulos’s long journey from basketball lifer in the Chicago suburbs to head coach of an emerging Uganda national team.

Embracing change is the most crucial hurdle facing the sports industry today
Social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and WeChat have played a key role in this change in consumption, with mobile and video at the centre. Nielsen have reported rapid growth of social and digital video in the last three years – with growth accelerating in most markets. Sports fans, like all consumers, face a myriad of choices for attention and social networks present an immediate, global platform for rights owners to deliver content – building direct relationships with the audience and raising levels of engagement. The introduction of live streaming and OTT, for example the first global live stream of an NFL game on Yahoo in 2015, and more recently the introduction of broadcast-quality streams on social platforms, have enabled fans to experience live sport away from the TV. Athletes, teams and leagues have been able to break down the barriers of traditional linear TV production to deliver authentic, live broadcasts focused on this expanding digital audience. This new method of ‘broadcasting’ creates an ecosystem that is less reliant on traditional TV, cable or radio – and more importantly, it’s aligned to the behavior of the next generation of fans who crave instant, personalized and on-demand services.

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