Sports Doing Good Newsletter, #303

Dec. 16 – Dec. 29, 2018

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

  1. How An 11-Year-Old Triathlete Gives Wins To Others (
  2. ‘A prayer and a hope’: Life on the NFL’s tryout circuit (
  3. How Ronaldinho’s crossbar challenge changed branded content forever (SportsPro)
  4. adidas campaign sets to break gender barriers (Beyond Sport)
  5. Everyone Loves to Watch Zion Williamson Play. Maybe as Much as He Loves Playing. (New York Times)
  6. For Mo’ne Davis, a Social Awakening and a Commitment to Hampton (New York Times)
  7. Cuba Celebrates Historic Agreement With Major League Baseball (Bloomberg)
  8. The importance of Anthony Lynn’s rise as Chargers head coach (The Undefeated)
  9. A Rundown of Sports Technology Innovation Throughout 2018 (SportTechie)
  10. LeBron James explains how parenthood has made him a more effective leader in sports (CNBC)

Mentors and Mutuality (by Paul Pierce) (The Players’ Tribune)
The Beyond Sport Foundation Wraps Up Biggest Year to Date (Beyond Sport)
“Football is not just about kicking a ball” (Peace and Sport)
Small Wins, Big Gains: Why Youth Athletes Should Try Incremental Goals (TrueSport)
A Taste of Tailgate (by DeAngelo Hall) (The Players’ Tribune)

We present again our “Featured Video” offering(s). With the explosion of video content out there highlighting the good in sport, we want to showcase such content for your enjoyment and learning. This will be an ongoing effort.

A Smithsonian Sports Curator Explains How Athletes Turn Social and Political Issues into National Conversations (

A note regarding the next newsletter. We will be skipping the one schedule for January 13 and will be back on January 27.

We are proud to feature the following stories this week: Gracie Lindaman, a young triathlete giving away medals she earned to her peers fighting a variety of conditions and illnesses; professional football players looking to find another opportunity to play before they call it a career; super footballer Ronaldinho and that amazing crossbar-hitting event; adidas recommitting to providing female athletes, young and old, opportunities to excel in sports; the amazing play of Duke freshman basketball player Zion Williamson; Little League baseball star Mo’ne Davis and her growth from pre-teen icon to aspiring college student-athlete; a landmark agreement between the baseball powers in Cuba and the U.S.; the rise of Los Angeles Chargers head football coach Anthony Lynn; a rundown of sports technology innovation in 2018; and LeBron James on how being a parent makes him a better teammate and leader.

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So, enjoy. And have a good week.

How An 11-Year-Old Triathlete Gives Wins To Others (
At any children’s hospital, it’s normal for patients to receive gifts on their birthdays and at Christmastime. Gracie’s visit was different, though. Earlier this month, standing before them in the hospital’s 10th-floor indoor park, Gracie didn’t know what the children faced. Alyssa Luksa, the hospital’s director of child life and expressive therapies, wasn’t quite sure how this was going to work out. How were the patients going to respond to getting a medal from a contemporary? It’s not like this was one of Houston’s sports heroes like J.J. Watt, Jose Altuve or James Harden. Gracie started giving out the medals. Each medal had a ribbon attached to it with a different inspirational phrase;: “Never Give Up” and “On a rainy day, enjoy the puddles. Forget the storm.” She went into their rooms, spoke to patients at their bedside and placed the medals around their necks. “They deserve them more than I did,” Gracie said. “They’re in their own race, and I just wanted them to have a better day.” Logan, the Spring Fire Department Assistant Chief, noticed the difference in the children receiving something from one of their own. “It was her medal. It was more personal than firefighters handing out toys.” “They were wowed by her,” said Luksa, the hospital staffer who wasn’t sure how the visit would go. “It was amazing.”

LindamanGracie Lindaman. Courtesy Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital

‘A prayer and a hope’: Life on the NFL’s tryout circuit (
The process itself can be somewhat stressful. Not because of the workout — for most players, that’s the part they know. Everything else they do not. Each workout is different, although it usually combines some level of positional drills and, depending on the team, combine testing. For instance, Kerley and Moore said they’ve been asked to (and don’t always agree to) run the 40-yard dash, something they haven’t done since they were rookies. Alexander, a rookie receiver from Franklin College, said half the teams he worked out for before signing with the Detroit Lions’ practice squad last month asked him to run the 40. Some workouts, depending on the team, are 45 minutes. Moore had one — he declined to divulge the team — lasting six drills for 12 minutes. The workouts, more than anything else, create a ready list for teams unless there’s an immediate positional need. Most visits are used to acquire updated medical information and to test physical fitness in drills that then offer comparisons to other free agents and players on the roster.

KerleyJeremy Kerley is an eight-year NFL veteran pondering his future and whether he should continue his attempts at trying to latch on with another team. Daniel Bartel/Icon Sportswire

How Ronaldinho’s crossbar challenge changed branded content forever (SportsPro)
In 2008’s nascent days of online viral content, when YouTube was a mere three-years old, we saw an example of a partnership that would inspire brands to completely reinvent their output and the use of top talent. It was also the first clip to ever reach one million views on YouTube. The value of shareable and entertaining content to brands became immediately apparent. The amateur-looking video was of Brazil’s star player, Ronaldinho, trying on a new pair of Nike golden boots. Trying them out for size he proceeds to unassumingly perform numerous feats of skill, perhaps helped by his snazzy new footwear. The handheld footage and ambient noise would imply that this is an unofficial sneak-peek into a soccer session with only the boots and subtle Nike hoardings at the side of the pitch to publicise the brand. Despite questions over the legitimacy of this ‘fanvid’, it did nothing to dent its popularity and hence value. This was one of the first times fans were able to watch a ‘candid’ piece of film that not only got them backstage with one of soccer’s hottest properties but got them excited and wanting to show and share with friends.
(video, Caption: Nike Football Presents: Ronaldinho Crossbar Remastered

adidas campaign sets to break gender barriers (Beyond Sport)
Last week, adidas announces the She Breaks Barriers initiative as a continuation of its commitment to remove barriers in sport. Expanding on the #creatorsunite conversation launched in August 2018, this multi-faceted initiative is designed to inspire, enable and support the next generation of female athletes, creators and leaders. To highlight the barriers faced by women in sport and to invite the world to join the movement, adidas premiered the She Breaks Barriers film, featuring some of adidas’ most influential female and male athletes* and narrated with musician Pharrell Williams, during NBC’s Sunday Night Football. To further support, adidas released an open letter to its employees and to communities around the country. The letter called on everyone to join the effort and together, level the playing field and co-create the future of women’s sport. Candace Parker, WNBA champion, two-time WNBA MVP and two-time Olympic gold medalist said: “My goal in everything I do is to provide better opportunities for my daughter and girls her age both in sports and in life. Being a role model for young athletes motivates me each time I step onto the court. Having a partner like adidas, who is so committed to creating new opportunities for the next wave of young female athletes, is so powerful and I’m thrilled to be involved in this new initiative.”

adidas breaking barriers

Everyone Loves to Watch Zion Williamson Play. Maybe as Much as He Loves Playing. (New York Times)
Among Williamson’s 20 points against Yale was a balletic layup on which he appeared to float through a thicket of Elis before softly dropping the ball through the basket, but also yet another thunderous dunk. In between, he threw at least one nifty pass to Barrett, who poured in 30 points. “Both are phenomenal,” Bilas said. “But Zion will sell more tickets.” One of the intangibles that Krzyzewski particularly enjoys is Williamson’s joyfulness. It is on display in pregame warm-ups, when the big man with a guard’s mentality alternates high-wattage smiles with acrobatic dunks and all manner of fist bumps and hand slaps with his teammates. The joy was palpable in the waning moments of the Yale blowout here, when Williamson — his afternoon complete — remained on his feet in front of the Duke bench, offering full-throated support to the extras taking a rare turn in the Cameron Indoor Stadium spotlight. The joy was there as the locker room was closing later, too, after Williamson decided to release Buck mire, a walk-on and pre-med student, from his consigliere duties. Williamson swallowed Buckmire into his arms, and for a moment, the 6-2, 170-pound guard disappeared. “You are good at this,” Williamson said amid muffled laughter.

WilliamsonWilliamson is 6 feet 7 inches and 285 pounds, heavier than all but one active N.B.A. player, but his 45-inch vertical leap is the highest since Duke started measuring its players. Credit Grant Halverson/Getty Images North America

For Mo’ne Davis, a Social Awakening and a Commitment to Hampton (New York Times)
Around friends, she is known simply as Mo, and she demurs when they teasingly call her “Big Time” and “Superstar.” “She’s a novelty in the white community, a celebrity you want to take a picture with, but in the black community, she’s more of a cultural icon,” said Steve Bandura, 57, Davis’s longtime rec-center coach and mentor, who is white. “Little League baseball is a white suburban sport. Mo’ne is an African-American girl. She crossed every barrier.” It was Bandura’s idea for the 2015 tour of civil rights landmarks. Years ago, he gave up a sales and marketing career to work with disadvantaged youth. In 1995, at the Marian Anderson Recreation Center, in South Philadelphia, he formed a youth sports development organization called the Anderson Monarchs — named after the celebrated African-American singer and the famed Negro League baseball team, the Kansas City Monarchs. To understand the present, Bandura told Davis and her teammates, they must understand the past. So the Monarchs departed in June 2015 on a 23-day tour of playing games and gaining a firsthand appreciation of the courage and struggle of black history in America.

Mo'ne DavisMo’ne Davis, a 5-foot-5 guard, excels in multiple sports, but has committed to play softball at Hampton University in Virginia next year. Credit Mark Makela for The New York Times

Cuba Celebrates Historic Agreement With Major League Baseball (Bloomberg)
The Cuban Baseball Federation, or FCB, will become the fourth foreign professional baseball league to enter into a similar agreement, joining Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball, the Korea Baseball Organization and the Chinese Professional Baseball League, Major League Baseball said in an emailed statement. The FCB will be paid a release fee by any Major League Club that signs a Cuban player under the terms of the new agreement. “The objective of the agreement, which is the product of years of negotiations with the FCB, is to end the dangerous trafficking of Cuban players who desire to play professional baseball in the United States, a practice that has been documented in legal proceedings and media reports, and which has caused significant hardship to Cuban players and their families,” MLB said in the statement. Traditionally, elite Cuban players looking to sign with Major League Baseball teams had to first defect from Cuba and find their way to U.S. soil, and that path was often dangerous. Cleveland Indians outfielder Leonys Martin was kidnapped in Mexico on his way to the U.S. Chicago White Sox All-Star Jose Abreu tore up his fake passport and ate it on his flight to the United States. Other players have similar stories.


The importance of Anthony Lynn’s rise as Chargers head coach (The Undefeated)
Within the game, it’s universally accepted that the presence of a top-notch quarterback on a team is the No. 1 factor in determining its future success. Lynn inherited future Hall of Famer Philip Rivers. Quickly, they established a strong working relationship that has produced a productive partnership. Upon that foundation, Lynn rebuilt the Chargers’ culture. It’s a sound formula for head-coaching longevity, Wooten said. “You and I both know how important it is for a head coach to not only have that quarterback but to be on the same page with that quarterback, and what makes me so happy is that Anthony and [Rivers] are working so well together,” Wooten said. “Anthony has shown he’s a high-character guy, he’s very intelligent, he’s well-organized and he has a great football mind. And I’m not surprised by anything Anthony has done. I always knew he was capable. Just like I know there are a lot of other guys who are capable.” There’s no doubt Wooten made the correct call on Lynn. Now, Wooten hopes owners will soon give him many more opportunities to prove he’s right.

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at Seattle SeahawksLynn and Philip Rivers quickly established a strong working relationship that has produced a productive partnership.

A Rundown of Sports Technology Innovation Throughout 2018 (SportTechie)
This year in sports technology saw the long-awaited legalization of sports betting, wearable devices promising granular levels of biometric analysis, an FDA-approved smartwatch, video assistant referees at the World Cup, the marriage of digital and brick-and-mortar worlds, and the further adoption of esports personalities in sports. If 2017 were the year that broadcasters started investing in over-the-top services, 2018 was the year the market was flooded with streaming competition. Interactive games that let people make cashless wagers on game outcomes graduated into real-money wagering. The SportTechie Awards recently highlighted the best in class for 2018, however this rundown serves to highlight some of the year’s major sports technology headlines. Topics include: Wearables; Sports Betting; VAR; Spring Pro Football; Digital Brick-and-Mortar; Streaming Fragmentation; Virtual Reality; In-Game Tracking; Esports; and Blockchain.

Sports technology 2018A general view of the Video Assistant Referee’s Room in the International Broadcast Centre in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

LeBron James explains how parenthood has made him a more effective leader in sports (CNBC)
In addition to being an NBA superstar with three championship rings and four MVP awards, LeBron James is a husband and father of three.  On a recent episode of the podcast “The Tim Ferriss Show,” James explains how being a parent has helped him to become a more effective leader in sports. “I think the No. 1 thing is patience,” he says. “When I talk about patience, it comes back to being a father. “I have three kids. And I want the best out of my kids just like any parent in the world. But what I have learned is that to get the best out of my three kids, I can’t approach them all the same way because they all have different personalities.” In the end, he says, “I had to find out, ‘How do I tap into each one of my kids to get the same result but teach them differently?’ And that’s the same with being the leader of a basketball team, the leader of a franchise. You can’t express or talk to everyone the same way and expect to get the same result or get the most out of them because every personality is different.”

LeBron and his kidsLeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers is seen shaking hands with his sons Bryce Maximus James and LeBron James Jr. after winning the game against the Utah Jazz on November 23, 2018 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, California. Andrew D. Bernstein | National Basketball Association | Getty Images


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