Sports Doing Good Newsletter, #290

June 17 – June 30, 2018

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

  1. Nobody’s Fool: In a Family of Athletes, Diamond DeShields May Shine Brightest
  2. Inside World Cup’s Sticker Collecting Craze
  3. For Teen Athletes, One Sport Is Good But 2 Or More Is Better
  4. New study examines history of black women fighting to be respected as athletes
  5. How This Special Olympics Athlete Races Past Expectations
  6. Recasting the History of Pro Hockey’s Indigenous Players
  7. NFL players trade helmets for caps and gowns in offseason
  8. Launch of the Centre for Sport and Human Rights
  9. Parley and Adidas Join Forces To Turn Ocean Plastic Into Shoes
  10. ‘Every one of us can be a hero’: How NFL players Josh Norman, Demario Davis helped immigrant children released from detention centers

The Last Shot (by Ray Allen) (The Players’ Tribune)
Italian football legends take on refugee team in match for solidarity (Peace and Sport)
Heat Illness: Keeping Youth Sports Athlete Safe (TrueSport)
The Nights the Earth Would Shake (by Aleksandar Kolarov) (The Players’ Tribune)
Beyond Sport Foundation Spotlight: Alive and Kicking (Beyond Sport)

Over the years we have featured stories that have spoken to the history of a particular sport or event. Such a story inevitably helped us gain a better perspective of what took place, its longer-term impact, and discussion of what it means to us going forward. And this is important. For while we speed ahead with advances in technology and live life going “100 miles an hour” we would do well to pay heed to what has come before us. This week, in the story of indigenous peoples and hockey in Canada, we take a look at a sport with a rich history made even richer by this special group, which continues to have an impact on the sport and society.

The other stories we are happy to feature include: star athlete Diamond Deshields of the WNBA; the sticker craze that is a fun part of the World Cup every four years; the benefit for teens of playing a variety of sports; a new study regarding the challenges and successes of black female athletes; the hard-earned success of Special Olympic athlete Andy Bryant; the developing trend of professional athletes, and coaches, returning to college to earn a degree and in many cases, fulfill a dream/promise; the launch of the Centre for Sport and Human Rights; how Parley and Adidas are partnering up to improve the environment and create new products; and how NFL players Josh Norman and Demario Davis have helped immigrant children released from detention centers.

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So, enjoy. And have a good week.

Nobody’s Fool: In a Family of Athletes, Diamond DeShields May Shine Brightest
Cooper says DeShields called him after her first game with the Sky, and the difference in her voice was apparent. “I just hadn’t heard that excitement from her in a long time about basketball,” he says. “She’s healthy, she’s feeling good, she’s talking about the playoffs. It’s just good to hear her happy.” Still, Cooper is looking for her to take the next step. “She’s accomplished everything she’s accomplished never having said, ‘I want to be the best basketball player in the world.’ When she decides to do that, it’s over.” Perhaps the only person without constructive criticism for Diamond is her dad: After a disastrous attempt at coaching (he characterizes himself as a “yeller” on the court) when she was in elementary school, Diamond relegated him to the stands. “That was my last time coaching her, ever,” he says, laughing. “I’m Dad, and I try to stay in my lane. She’ll ask me a question every now and then, and that’s my chance to coach her up a little bit.” According to her, though, he has offered some invaluable advice off the court. “He just says, ‘Do things your way, and don’t let nobody punk you,'” Diamond says. “A lot of people know my dad as the guy who wore his stirrups up because he wanted to pay homage to the Negro League players, and there were people who didn’t like that. But he never cared—he always did things how he wanted to do them, and that’s one of my core values.”


Inside World Cup’s Sticker Collecting Craze
Soccer—or football—is the most popular sport in the world. But beyond throwing on a jersey and cheering for your team, soccer fans have another way of showing their love. Where baseball has its cards, World Cup soccer has its stickers. For nearly 50 years, the Panini sticker album has become a well-worn, global ritual, where fans collect, trade and try to fill up their tome with as many players as possible. It all began during Mexico’s World Cup in 1970; today, it’s become a tradition nearly as treasured as watching the games themselves.

For Teen Athletes, One Sport Is Good But 2 Or More Is Better
When it comes to sports and teens, it seems that two is better than one. A recent report commissioned by the Women’s Sports Foundation is reinforcing the many benefits of teens playing sports but also uncovered new information about the different benefits of certain sports for various participant groups. “Teen Sport in America: Why Participation Matters” used national data about 12th graders from the annual “Monitoring the Future” nationwide surveys conducted by the Survey Research Center at the University of Michigan, which is funded by the National Institutes of Health. Researchers analyzed data from a sample of more than 14,000 high school seniors from 2010 through 2015, controlling for key factors including sex, race, and socioeconomic status. For teens who participate in sports, the benefits are far-ranging, the study found, reinforcing what’s been found in past studies and by groups such as The Aspen Institute’s Project Play. In general, teens who played one sport fared better than those who didn’t play any sports, and multisport athletes scored even higher on key measures such as the amount of daily exercise, adequate sleep, and the likelihood of eating breakfast each day.

Image by John Torcasio/Unsplash)

New study examines history of black women fighting to be respected as athletes
When black women take to the tracks, fields and courts, they are not facing just their opponents. They are also battling stereotypes and the weight of racial history, according to a new study by the Morgan State University School of Global Journalism & Communication. The study, “Beating Opponents, Battling Belittlement: How African-American Female Athletes Use Community to Navigate Negative Images,” was commissioned by The Undefeated. It examines the history of black women’s participation in basketball, track and field, tennis, golf and swimming and identifies cultural factors that hampered their success and describes the customized solutions that athletes have adopted in response to those factors. “We also wanted to make it clear that we understand that the press sees black female athletes in certain kinds of ways,” said Stella Hargett, chairwoman of the department of sociology and anthropology at Morgan State and one of the editors of the study. “Their representation is always part of their process. What’s interesting to me is that, throughout, what we find is oftentimes appearance becomes more important than the playing of the sports.”

How This Special Olympics Athlete Races Past Expectations
Andy Bryant was only supposed to run for 90 minutes. After all, he was in Albuquerque, running at elevation alongside some of the top middle distance runners in the country. Plus, it was snowing and cold. But when the group reached the turnaround point, he said he wanted to keep going. The 36-year-old from Woodinville, Washington, has autism spectrum disorder and has heard a chorus of “no’s” and “he can’t” throughout his life. But, thanks to running, he’s racked up an impressive list of accomplishments, finishing 30 marathons — including nine Boston Marathons. He ended up running for two hours in Albuquerque with the Brooks Beasts Track Club as part of their training camp earlier this year. “He’s very disciplined in his approach to training. He has intention behind what he does and structure to what he does,” says Danny Mackey, head coach of the Beasts. “If you ask him to do something, he just does it. The guy can work hard for a long time.” It’s this head-down, grind-it-out work ethic and up-for-anything attitude that Mackey believes has made Bryant a successful athlete and will help him excel at the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games in July.

Andy Bryant. Photo courtesy of Brooks.

Recasting the History of Pro Hockey’s Indigenous Players
Canada’s reckoning with its history with Indigenous peoples has been underway for years, with notable emphasis recently on reforming the justice system. Within hockey, this has been both a season for celebrating the achievements of Indigenous players and one filled with reminders of the ongoing struggles they face. Recent N.H.L. success stories include Ethan Bear, 20, from Saskatchewan’s Ochapowace Cree Nation, who made his debut with the Edmonton Oilers in March. At the Winter Olympics in February in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Canada’s women’s hockey team featured two Indigenous players, Jocelyne Larocque, who is Métis from Manitoba, and Brigette Lacquette, a member of the Cote First Nation in Saskatchewan. Hockey is thriving in Indigenous communities across the country, at the pond and pickup level and through organized events like the annual National Aboriginal Hockey Championships for elite teenage players. In March, about 3,000 Indigenous youth players took part in the Little Native Hockey League tournament in Mississauga, Ontario.

Fred Sasakamoose, one of the the first Indigenous players in the N.H.L., was honored in December at an Edmonton Oilers game against the Chicago Blackhawks, his former team. Credit Jason Franson/The Canadian Press, via Associated Press

NFL players trade helmets for caps and gowns in offseason
The Raiders have also been extremely supportive of players pursuing their degrees in the offseason and got to watch four players don their caps and gowns over two weekends this offseason. Star receiver Amari Cooper (Alabama), starting right guard Gabe Jackson (Mississippi State) and backup tackle Jylan Ware (Alabama State) all graduated this offseason thanks to the tuition assistance and guidance from the team. Annelie Schmittel, who works on the Raiders player engagement staff, has been heavily involved in helping the players do what they need to graduate and even went to West Virginia for Irvin’s ceremony earlier this offseason. She hopes the recent graduates serve as role models for young players just entering the league. “That’s something no one can take away from them,” Schmittel said. “It’s great having guys like Amari, Bruce, Gabe, starters on this team, veterans who have played in this league a long time and don’t really need a degree but wanted to go back and finish what they started. That’s incredible to see and for us to see because we’re seeing the hard work that they put in. … It’s a really proud moment. We’re really involved in it because it’s such a huge accomplishment for us.”

In this May 12, 2018, photo released by West Virginia University, former West Virginia University and current Oakland Raiders football player Bruce Irvin, right, receives his Regents degree from Dean Gypsy Denzine during the College of Education and Human Services Commencement in the Coliseum in Morgantown, W.Va. When Irvin got a multimillion signing bonus after being a first-round draft pick in 2012, the idea of getting his college degree was the last thing on his mind. But after having a son, the former high school dropout made getting that degree a priority and was one of many NFL players this offseason who got to don a cap and gown instead of a helmet. (West Virginia University/Brian Persinger via AP)

Launch of the Centre for Sport and Human Rights
The new Centre for Sport and Human Rights has been under development  over the past two and half years by a diverse coalition including FIFA, the International Olympic Committee, Commonwealth Games Federation, and UEFA, as well as a broad range of intergovernmental organisations, governments, athletes, hosts, sponsors, broadcasters, civil society representatives, trade unions, employers associations, and national human rights institutions. Administered by international think tank the Institute for Human Rights and Business (IHRB), the Centre will be based in Geneva, Switzerland and operate globally, supporting all actors including host organising committees and sports bodies, and affected groups such as workers and unions, athletes, communities, journalists, volunteers and fans, to share knowledge, build capacity, and strengthen accountability. The nearly 40 founding members of the Advisory Council of the new Centre met today for the Centre’s inaugural bi-annual strategic meeting. Marking the official launch, they were welcomed with remarks by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the Director-General of the ILO Guy Ryder, and the Centre’s founding Chair Mary Robinson (former President of Ireland and former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights).

Parley and Adidas Join Forces To Turn Ocean Plastic Into Shoes
Founded by activist designer Cyrill Gutsch, the organization — built around the insight that creativity catalyzes change faster than awareness alone — launched a historic Earth Day partnership with Adidas that saw every Major League Soccer team don jerseys constructed with Parley materials that upcycle ocean plastic. There are running shoes made in the same way, too — including a Stella McCartney trainer — and a women’s yoga gear line called Wanderlust. Why merch instead of public service announcements? For Gutsch, the answer is simple. Not only is collaboration more powerful than flogging a message solo — it’s more productive, too. And when it comes to moving people to adopt new ways of seeing and doing, the fashion and art world is the perfect place to make bold new concepts concrete. In that world, says Gutsch, “people expect to be surprised, to learn new things. and be inspired to change their ways.” Fashion, he laughs, “has the power to create trends which make you do things that often make zero sense.”

Photo courtesy of Adidas/Parley.

‘Every one of us can be a hero’: How NFL players Josh Norman, Demario Davis helped immigrant children released from detention centers
There, Norman and Davis performed some of the most American actions possible. Giving. Loving. Caring. Sharing. They did it not for praise, but to encourage and inspire. “I’m telling you it felt better than anything else I’ve ever done: to help give someone else a fighting chance,” said Norman, who flew back to the D.C. area late Wednesday night. “Someone else laid down their life for us to live in this country and have the freedoms we have. I’ve been provided such riches, and a great life, so why should I not help others? All of us have so much more than they do. Every one of us can be a hero. That’s what the U.S. is supposed to be based on. Not all this hate and division.” Again, it’s time to we follow the leads of these football-playing Americans. “We can all sit on social media and comment,” Davis said. “But stop commenting behind screens. Take action.” Said Norman: “It really doesn’t take a lot to be a good human. We can’t do anything about the people running our government and making the laws, besides voting for them. But you don’t have to agree with laws to do some good. Just try to change lives. Try to show some love.”

Washington Redskins cornerback Josh Norman (24) after the game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. (Photo: Jerome Miron, USA TODAY Sports)

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