Sports Doing Good Newsletter, #292

July 15 – July 28, 2018

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

  1. The World Cup is a victory for the immigrant dream
  2. ‘Now This Is What I Do’: Inside the World of Athletes’ LinkedIn Pages
  3. A YouTube Journey Through Rap Tributes to Soccer Stars
  4. Tony Miles and His Story of Hope and Redemption
  5. How A Former Football Star Is Building An All-Solar City
  6. Aly Raisman Is Taking Destiny into Her Own Hands
  7. Iranian Surf Culture Is Starting To Swell As People Take To The Waves
  8. Club Rehab: How Five Eagles Players Leaned on Each Other Through the Arduous Recovery Process
  9. The Special Olympics turns 50: Celebrating half a century of ‘the power of compassion and encounter’
  10. Arizona QB Khalil Tate’s Tweet May Spark a Revolutionary Change in the NCAA

World Cup fever still raging in Rohingya refugee camps (Peace and Sport)
The Godfather (by Mikey Garcia) (The Players’ Tribune)
Geopolitics and access to sports (Sport and Dev)
Beyond Sport Announces 2018 Global Awards Official Shortlist
The Laureus Summit 2018 (Laureus)

This week we introduce our “Featured Video” offering. With the explosion of video content out there highlight the good in sport, we want to showcase such content for your enjoyment and learning.

Featured Video – Man with cerebral palsy competes to race among world’s best (USA Today)

Last week ESPN hosted its Sports Humanitarian Awards (4th year) and the ESPYS (26th year). The Sports Humanitarian has followed the lead of the ESPYS in becoming a must-attend event in sports. I was lucky to be at both.

Surprisingly, the ESPYS this year may have elicited even more emotion than the Sports Humanitarian Awards, which again was quite moving. From the Pat Tillman Award for Service (to Sgt. Jake Wood of the U.S. Marines) to the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance (to HOF quarterback Jim Kelly) and the Best Coach Award (3 coaches from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida), there was the need to reach for the tissues. Each of these awards, along with the “best in sports” awards, made for a brilliant night. What caught my attention possibly more than anything was the awarding of the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage. The Award went to a group, membership in which was not the individuals’ goal or intention. This group was the “sister survivors,” who spoke out against the sexual abuses of former USA Gymnastics and Michigan State doctor Larry Nassar. Hundreds of survivors of Nassar’s abuse have come forward, and 141 were on hand in a powerful conclusion to Wednesday’s award ceremony. Many people were like me, shaking their head in amazement as the women kept filing on stage. 141 individuals. Three of the survivors spoke to the crowd and to the world and expressed a resoluteness that you could almost feel. Of all that these young ladies said, the thing that stood out was the statement that “if just one adult had stepped up and listened in the girls, there would have been so many fewer victims.” It was true and more than upsetting. Wow. One person, as she said. One person to take on the cause of another and to challenge the establishment, to think beyond medals and money, and think about the well-being of the athlete. In this case, there was a monumental failure.
But there is hope. Just the night before at the Humanitarian Awards, ESPN announced it was donating $100,000 to the U.S. Center for SafeSport, a national nonprofit authorized by Congress to focus on preventing all forms of abuse in sport. We must stand up for each other, especially when dealing with young people who are especially vulnerable to exploitation and mistreatment. There are a lot of people committed to seeing better treatment of athletes, starting with the 141 women on the stage at the ESPYS.

The other stories we are happy to feature include: the ethnic diversity of the World Cup-winning team from France; the trend of professional athletes leveraging LinkedIn to further their non-playing interests; a fun look at the shout-outs to soccer stars in rap music; poker champion Tony Miles and his story of hope and redemption; former NFL player Syd Kitson and his big plans to create an all-solar city; the wonderful growth of surfing in Iran; how five players from the Super Bowl-winning Philadelphia Eagles were each other’s support system as they rehabbed from major injuries; a celebration of 50 years of the Special Olympics; and University of Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate’s tweet that may have changed his future and that of his teammates.

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So, enjoy. And have a good week.

The World Cup is a victory for the immigrant dream
But, as Today’s WorldView can attest after watching France’s grinding victory over Belgium in St. Petersburg, little about this World Cup lends itself to a narrow idea of European identity. The match, contested between two European nations, drew supporters from scores of others; your correspondent counted more flags from Latin American countries than Europe. At a security checkpoint, two men sporting Belgian-flag face paint and Algerian jerseys sang a song in Arabic in praise of Palestine. On the stadium’s main concourse, another duo clad in the green of Mexico had an onlooker dab the French tricolor on their cheeks. “Mexico is here,” shouted one of the men in Spanish, to no one in particular. “But today we are French.” During the game itself, masses of Brazilian fans chanted both for their country and their hometown clubs. You could chalk these scenes up to the fleeting globalism of the World Cup, a lucrative event sponsored by the world’s largest corporations that pulls in devotees from virtually every corner of the planet. But there has always been a deeper cosmopolitanism at work. Many of the European squads, as we know, draw heavily from immigrant communities — a testament not just to the multiculturalism of the societies they represent but also the courage and determination of migrants in Europe, achieving success in the face of adversity and pervasive discrimination.

‘Now This Is What I Do’: Inside the World of Athletes’ LinkedIn Pages
Davis was an entrepreneur, and he longed for a way to utilize his resources to advance those interests. His company, Baron Davis Enterprises, looked for young innovators who wanted to help underserved communities. Davis attended business seminars, trying to learn and network. Only there was a problem: At most events, he recalls, hardly anybody would be there, or he’d be the only athlete there, or the only African American, and maybe there’d be one Asian person, one Indian person and one woman there, but not more. He wasn’t finding what—or whom—he was looking for. Meanwhile, on LinkedIn, opportunities abound. There, Davis found a diverse group of budding entrepreneurs with varied interests and disposable income. Many of them happened to be athletes, updating the world on their latest endeavor, often a tech investment. If LinkedIn hasn’t reached the ubiquity or popularity of Instagram or Twitter, it is undeniably, modestly, ascending across sports. It’s a funny development for a historically stuffy platform that houses online resumes and uninspired DMs. But maybe it’s not so surprising: Today, the winningest players in sports also fuel hot startups and grace the cover of Bloomberg Businessweek. LinkedIn is helping this new generation of business-minded athletes establish their second careers, often before their first ones come to an end.

A YouTube Journey Through Rap Tributes to Soccer Stars
I was drawn to the unlikely songs about lesser lights, like Lexoz’s raging tribute to the mercurial French attacker Hatem Ben Arfa, or the teen-age rapper MKN’s proud homage to his cousin-in-law, the French journeyman Anthony Modeste. They were a lot better than the tributes to all-time greats, many of which felt like attempts to foretell their own far-off impact. A few years ago, the North London rapper DAPS débuted with “Ian Wright,” beloved by fans of Arsenal: “Stayed around them Gunners,” he sing-songs, referring to Arsenal’s nickname, “I’m Ian Wright.” There are a lot of songs about moody, volatile superstars, such as Eric Cantona and Zlatan Ibrahimovi?. A Manchester rapper named Black Josh recorded “Paul Scholes,” as no-nonsense, technically proficient, and nineties-style as the United midfielder. Perhaps it’s not a shock that there weren’t many good songs devoted to generally uncomplicated megastars such as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, and that the ones about Neymar tended to be a little cheesy. (In contrast, there’s probably an entire album’s worth of songs about the maverick antihero Mario Balotelli.)

Rappers who write songs about soccer stars—such as MKN’s homage to Anthony Modeste—often concentrate on players’ individual stories rather than their larger affiliations. MKN Officiel / YouTube

Tony Miles and His Story of Hope and Redemption
“This is the story of redemption, it’s my story of hope,” Tony Miles stated after making the 2018 WSOP Main Event final table. Overcoming a drug and alcohol addiction, Miles enters the final table guaranteed $1,000,000 and potentially much more as the man with just $54,333 in live tournament earnings sits third in chips. “I’ve been through some of the most challenging things anyone could ever think of and being able to make it this far is an amazing accomplishment.” Elaborating on overcoming addiction and getting back to the top in poker, Miles relied on his friends to be able to compete at the highest level again after some time away from the game. “I went through a really serious problem with addiction, and when I returned to the game it had passed me by. The game had evolved, and I had to work twice as hard to catch up to the learning curve.” “It was critical that I had friends at the top of the game who were able to take me under their wing. It meant the world to me, and all those people are here right now with a piece of my action. Being able to pay them back with this result is something that I can’t even put into words.” In tremendous physical shape, surrounded by the best support system a player could ask for, and both cognizant and self-aware of the vices he had to overcome and the ongoing process of staying on top of them, Miles likes his chances at the final table. “I feel amazing right now, but those vices are always there in the back of your mind. I’ve been training for this World Series of Poker like a performance athlete, meditating daily for the past five months and eating a ketogenic diet. Right now, I’m firing on all cylinders and I have a really great perspective on life.”

Supported by friends and family that stood with him through dark times, Tony Miles celebrates on the final table bubble.

How A Former Football Star Is Building An All-Solar City
Just 15 miles northeast of Fort Myers, Florida, a massive array of glinting solar panels — 350,000 of them — stretch across land the size of 200 football fields. This futuristic array heralds the dawn of America’s all solar-powered city: Babcock Ranch. The new planned community, which just began to see residents moving in this year, comes complete with Alexa-powered smart homes offering 1-gigabit fiber internet, 50 miles of nature trails, community gardens, a K-8 charter school, farm-to-table organic food, and electric shuttles. The entire 17,000-acre property promises the kind of ground-up planning that can make suburbia green and sustainable. This futuristic Eden is the brainchild of football player Syd Kitson, a former NFL lineman with the Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers, who is now chairman and CEO of his own Florida real estate company, Kitson & Partners. He bought the 91,000-acre ranch in 2006 and then immediately sold 73,000 acres to the state of Florida for preservation — the largest single land acquisition for preservation in Florida history. Kitson also donated 440 acres to Florida Power & Light Company, which spent over 100 million installing their solar farm. He then worked with planners to develop the remaining acres. 500 residents are expected by the end of this year, and a total of 19,500 homes will be built over the next two decades.

Photo courtesy of Kitson Partners.

Aly Raisman Is Taking Destiny into Her Own Hands
Raisman, who hadn’t planned to speak in court until she heard the girls and women before her, has become one of the movement’s boldest leaders. Last November, the 24-year-old publicly disclosed that Nassar sexually abused her beginning in 2010, when she was 15, at various locations, including the U.S. national team training facility at Karolyi Ranch in Texas and the 2012 London Games. She sued the U.S. Olympic Committee and USA Gymnastics in March of this year for failing to stop Nassar’s abuse. The lawsuit alleges those institutions seemed to protect a predator and ignore the children and young adults he abused. Before Nassar’s sentencing, Olympic teammates Simone Biles, Jordyn Wieber, McKayla Maroney and Gabby Douglas came forward and said they were also abused by Nassar. Raisman refuses to stay silent, speaking out at events and campuses around the country, encouraging young girls to share their stories, too. She has partnered with Darkness to Light, the nation’s leading advocate for the prevention of child sexual abuse. “To all the survivors out there, don’t let anyone rewrite your story. Your truth does matter. You matter. And you are not alone,” Raisman said last week, as she and the survivors were honored with the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the ESPYs.

Iranian Surf Culture Is Starting To Swell As People Take To The Waves
And indeed, there is an innocence to the village’s emerging surf culture that is long gone from well-trodden wave-riding hubs like Hawaii and Australia. Ramin is a place where people share waves happily instead of enforcing a strict code of surf etiquette that exists elsewhere. Priorities in Iran are different than other surf-worshiping locales. Here, taking time for breakfast and tea is more important than getting to the waves before the wind stirs up. In this way, Ramin is a kind of ground zero for the paradise lost upon which colonial motifs — and modern surf fantasies — have been built. The newly converted, however, mostly prefer to focus on the promise that surfing carries. “It’s a new, growing sport in Iran, and it takes time to get its roots,” Gorgin says. “Also, it needs a lot of support [by financial and tourism].” But most of all, Gorgin says, it needs “unity in choosing the right path to develop it.” In time, the stars — and tides — might just align.

A surfing lesson at Ramin Beach. Photo courtesy of Farid Gorgin.

Club Rehab: How Five Eagles Players Leaned on Each Other Through the Arduous Recovery Process
Club Rehab faced their toughest challenge yet at Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis. No amount of 2000s rap music or fake fines could distract them from the fact they wouldn’t be playing in a game they’d dreamed about their entire careers. “Everybody at one time was so happy and genuinely ecstatic for our team but at the same time heartbroken because we felt like we couldn’t contribute and help our brothers out on the field,” Maragos says. Even then, their shared experience—the knowledge that they weren’t alone—paid off. Each guy in the group was uniquely qualified to understand that gnawing feeling that they weren’t really a part of this Super Bowl title. On the sideline in Minneapolis, “Sproles and I would give each other a little shake of the head,” says Hicks, “and it was like, ‘I know, I know. We’ll be all right. Our time is coming.” “It was a look like, Yo, we gotta get back here next year,” Sproles says. “We knew, right when we looked at each other. I can’t really explain it.”

When the Eagles won Super Bowl LII, often lost in the narrative is how the team won it all with five of its best players sidelined with injuries. We get an inside look at how Carson Wentz, Jason Peters, Jordan Hicks, Darren Sproles and Chris Maragos bonded together through their recovery process.

The Special Olympics turns 50: Celebrating half a century of ‘the power of compassion and encounter’
“I think the reason we’re in 172 countries is that people in all of those countries are hungry to participate in something bigger,” Shriver said. “They’re hungry to be reawakened to the power of compassion and encounter. They’re hungry for gentleness, a little bit of kindness and that’s the story that needs telling.” This year in honor of the Games’ 50th anniversary, a special unified program is being held, where athletes with and without intellectual disabilities will participate in events together. Athlete Cody Zimmer has been participating in the Special Olympics for the past nine years. He is playing on a unified soccer team. “It was frustrating at first because we didn’t really know anyone. We were still working out the kinks,” Zimmer said. “But once we figured it out and knew everyone’s ability, we were able to adapt and work together and now we’re getting better.”

Soccer players celebrate a score on the first day of the Special Olympics Unified Cup soccer game in Chicago, Illinois on July 17, 2018. Kamil Krzaczynski / Special Olympics Unified Cup via AP

Arizona QB Khalil Tate’s Tweet May Spark a Revolutionary Change in the NCAA
Earlier this spring, Tate worked with the university to record videos for the “I Am, I Can, I Will” Arizona student-athlete motto. Every new athlete who enrolls at Arizona learns the Wildcat Way of thinking, doing, living and choosing. Yeah, it’s corny, but consider this: The foundation of the Wildcat Way is personal leadership; influential and transcendent leadership in serving something greater than yourself. “This thing is a lot bigger than me,” Tate said. “Knowing that is a blessing because it has helped me keep my head on straight.” Want someone or something—or some team—to root for this season? Check out Arizona and Tate. The more the Wildcats win, the more Tate’s tweet grows in power and influence. “I went home to Los Angeles on (spring) break and I was with my grandmother,” Tate said. “All of my friends were saying, ‘Did you see what Khalil did?’ She was really proud, and that kind of put it in perspective for me. Everyone realizes how important it is.” One tweet, 10 words. Revolutionary change just might be closer than you think.


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