Sports Doing Good Newsletter, #304

Dec. 30, 2018 – Jan. 26, 2019

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

  1. UCLA gymnast Katelyn Ohashi rediscovers joy via her viral floor routines and poetry (LA Daily News)
  2. Kevin Durant to Open ‘The Durant Center’ After-School Educational Facility in His Hometown (Sports Illustrated)
  3. Robert Kraft teams with Jay-Z, Meek Mill in starting criminal justice reform organization (USA Today)
  4. Football clubs to tackle reoffending through prison programme (SportBusiness)
  5. With Harvard as the Backdrop, NBA Players Learn Business from the Best and Brightest (Sports Illustrated)
  6. Nick Foles And Other Eagles Support Clothing Company Just Because They Want To (Forbes)
  7. Maori’s moment: The inside story of a star player’s triumphant return (ESPNW)
  8. The Harden experience is unprecedented and undeniable (ESPN)
  9. Ellis Wyms Believes Athletes Can Inspire Students to Learn Computer Science (SportTechie)
  10. The Most Radical Sports Film I’ve Ever Seen (Vulture)

After the Quake (Iwaki FC) (The Players’ Tribune)
Chicago Coaches Help Young Athletes Navigate Waters (Up2Us Sports)
Skateistan Launches Online Toolkit for Community Skate Projects (Beyond Sport)
The once in a lifetime chance to build a new sport the right way
Laureus World Sports Awards – 2019 Nominees Revealed (Laureus)

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.

Remember the Name (Joao Felix) (The Players Tribune)

Most of us find enjoyment in the sports and activities in which we participate. And that is just part of the attraction. We also often have special feelings of accomplishment, fulfillment, and connection with others. But what happens when the opportunity to participate is taken away, or at the very least changed to such a degree that you no longer find that joy in participation anymore? We have two stories this week that speak to that idea, two young female student-athletes, who through introspection and some unyielding determination, were able to rediscover the joy in the sports they love. One of the stories went viral (gymnast Katelyn Ohashi), the other less know but no less significant (basketball player Maori Davenport).

The other stories we are happy to feature include: Kevin Durant opening up an education center in his hometown; sports and entertainment figures joining together to address the major challenge of criminal justice reform in the U.S.; football clubs in England working with prisons and other organizations to positively impact their prison population; a special educational opportunity at Harvard University for professional athletes; some NFL players from the Philadelphia Eagles supporting a budding entrepreneur; the amazing James Harden of the NBA’s Houston Rockets; former NFL player Ellis Wyms and his efforts to get athletes to motivate students to take up study of computer science; and a look at the attention-grabbing film, High Flying Bird.

UPCOMING EVENT: The Power of Sport and Diplomacy, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019, New York City

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So, enjoy. And have a good week.

UCLA gymnast Katelyn Ohashi rediscovers joy via her viral floor routines and poetry (LA Daily News)
Her teammates provided the perfect cast of background dancers, whipping their hair along with Ohashi. When she sticks her difficult split double-layout tumbling pass to open the routine, her teammates’ arms fly up in the air and they scream with glee. Ohashi’s grin never leaves her face for the 90-second routine and it grows even wider when she runs off the floor toward her teammates. She competes for them, not herself, she said. After competing as a solo act during elite gymnastics, Ohashi relishes the opportunity to compete alongside teammates. They bring out her joy. “There’s a clear difference in the athlete that I was when I was in elite (gymnastics) and the athlete that I am now,” Ohashi said. “Everything you see on the floor, it’s literally how I feel.” Only halfway during her sophomore year at UCLA did Ohashi start expressing herself through gymnastics. She was a rebellious freshman, trying to live out a childhood that was taken away by drill sergeant coaches in elite gymnastics. She said she had “so much hate in my heart for this sport and previous coaches,” when she arrived at UCLA. Kondos Field compared her to a wounded animal. “You could tell she just wanted to be free and love and have fun and be joyful but wasn’t really sure if that was appropriate and OK in the world of gymnastics,” Kondos Field said. “Once we built the trust, she started just releasing her inner self, all that everybody loves about Katelyn. We finally started seeing it and that’s what the world’s fallen in love with.”

LDN-L-UCLA-OHASHI-0118_03.JPG Katelyn Ohashi, a UCLA senior gymnast, became a viral sensation after a video of her perfect-10 floor exercise performance began circulating on the internet. Photographed at UCLA in Los Angeles on Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2019. (Photo by Nick Agro, Contributing Photographer)

Kevin Durant to Open ‘The Durant Center’ After-School Educational Facility in His Hometown (Sports Illustrated)
Golden State small forward Kevin Durant will open “The Durant Center” on Wednesday– a new facility in his hometown of Prince George County, Md. that is aimed at helping low-income and underserved students enroll and graduate from college. The after-school center will open with an inaugural class of 69 local students, who will be offered various academic, financial and social-emotional resources to aid college and career development. The center was created in partnership with College Track, an organization that uses a 10-year plan to help students from their early teenage years through college graduation by providing tutoring services and funds for college scholarships. The nine-time NBA All-Star has pledged $10 million to College Track over the program’s first decade. Durant decided to collaborate with the organization after visiting a College Track center in Oakland, Calif. The Durant Center will open as home to College Track’s first site on the East Coast.

Durant after schoolBeyond Sport

Robert Kraft teams with Jay-Z, Meek Mill in starting criminal justice reform organization (USA Today)
“I decided then that I wanted to work with Michael and Meek to do whatever we could to try to change the system. It’s not good for America. And I’m happy I had the chance and the exposure to see it. It’s just crazy. I hope everyone in this room gets behind this effort, and we can make America better if we really deal with this problem.” The group announced political commentator and social activist Van Jones as its CEO. Jones said the organization seeks to “change the laws and the policies” that have furthered a cycle of parole violations and incarcerations for some of those recently released from prison. Other co-founders include Daniel Loeb, CEO and founder of Third Point LLC, Michael E. Novogratz, CEO and founder of Galaxy Digital, Clara Wu Tsai, co-owner of the Brooklyn Nets, and Robert F. Smith, CEO and founder of Vista Equity Partners. Together, the founders have devoted $50 million to the organization. “For me, I’m from Marcy Projects,” Jay-Z said. “I’m from Brooklyn, and this has been a part of my life. This is communities that we grew up in, friends that I have, people around me. So I grew up with this issue and seeing people in it. “We’re all prisoners to this. Because until everyone is free, no one is free.”

Justice reformEntrepreneur ad recording artist Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter, from left, gestures as he poses with New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, Philadelphia 76ers co-owner and Fanatics executive chairman Michael Rubin, recording artist Meek Mill, Galaxy Digital CEO and founder Michael Novogratz, Brooklyn Nets co-owner Clara Wu Tsai, Third Point CEO and founder Daniel S. Loeb, and REFORM Alliance CEO and political activist Van Jones after the group announced a partnership to transform the American criminal justice system, Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2019, in New York. (Photo: Kathy Willens, AP)

Football clubs to tackle reoffending through prison programme (SportBusiness)
The Twinning Project said that the response from clubs has surpassed its initial launch target, adding that it is engaging in discussions with the remaining professional clubs across the country, with more teams expected to be announced over the coming months. The first courses of the government-backed initiative are expected to be launched during the second quarter of 2019. Clubs will work with PE officers from the prison service to deliver coaching, stewarding, lifestyle skills and other employability-based qualifications to prisoners. The Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) group will also deliver refereeing courses to prisoners. David Dein, former vice-chairman of Premier League club Arsenal and the English Football Association, and founder of the Twinning Project, said: “Since its launch, the Twinning Project has seen huge interest and enthusiasm from across the UK football family and prison service. We have also had interest from international clubs and prisons, as well as other sporting organisations, who wish to replicate what we are doing.


With Harvard as the Backdrop, NBA Players Learn Business from the Best and Brightest (Sports Illustrated)
After NBA representives noticed the interest across the league and reached out, Elberse and others put together the mentor-based program that gives athletes insight into the business world by pairing them with second-year MBA students who share similar interests. The program, which started with only NBA players, has been expanded to include players from the WNBA and NFL, as well as NWSL and MMA fighters. During their day on campus, athletes sit in on Elberse’s traditional classes and get to pick their mentors through what the program coordinators called a “reverse draft.” “Most of these athletes have been through draft processes by themselves or own their own, and so I think they were excited about being on the other side of the table,” student coordinator Wande Olabisi says. “And from the mentor side, they were very nervous. I mean, really excited to present to the athletes and pitch themselves as viable mentors, but also very nervous. So it was cool for them to kind of experience what may be just a tiny semblance of what it’s like to get drafted.”

NBA to HarvardHarvard Business School/Twitter

Nick Foles And Other Eagles Support Clothing Company Just Because They Want To (Forbes)
Foles was impressed and went on Instagram saying that he loved Swet Tailor. He told Bolden, who reiterated that “everything in his closet is stuff he is replacing it with Swet Tailor, wearing it every day for the last week.” Bolden was then introduced to several of the Eagles, including QB Carson Wentz, TE Zack Ertz, S Chris Maragos, and QB Nate Sudfeld.  Former QB Tim Tebow, now a baseball player in the New York Mets organization as well as a football commentator for ESPN, has also been seen wearing Swet Tailor. Tebow wore it on College Gameday on ESPN.  Again, none of these players are paid to do this, and none of them are shy about sharing it. Former Baltimore Ravens OL Jonathan Ogden weighed in on the question of endorsement this week at CES in Las Vegas. “Today it is so much more about what we believe in and support, whether it’s a cause or a company. Dollars are important but being aligned is much more so,” he said. Sanchez went a step further.  He found Swet Tailor through Foles since the Redskins QB works with Foles’ sports marketing agency, Athletes First.

Swet TailorPHILADELPHIA, PA – DECEMBER 23: Nick Foles #9 of the Philadelphia Eagles exits the field after a win against the Houston Texans at Lincoln Financial Field on December 23, 2018, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Philadelphia defeats Houston 32-30. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images) photo credit: Getty Images Getty

Maori’s moment: The inside story of a star player’s triumphant return (ESPNW)
Forty-three days after she learned of her suspension, Maori was back in Kelley’s office. This time, she arrived to the gleeful faces of her principal and coach. No one can remember who actually told Maori the news, but it really didn’t matter. She could play again. Tara and Mario Davenport Sr., her ex-husband and Maori’s dad, had filed a lawsuit against the AHSAA the day before, and that morning Circuit Court Judge Sonny Reagan granted an emergency motion allowing Maori to be reinstated. While it was just a temporary victory, at that moment, no one in Kelly’s office cared. Maori turned to the group: “It’s show time.” Kelley summoned the rest of the basketball team into his office. Everyone in the administrative office cheered as Maori announced her return. She grabbed her backpack and headed over to the school’s training center. “She walked in here and said, ‘I need a game-day workout,’” says Tyler Eady, the school’s strength and conditioning coach. “I almost teared up. I’m so happy for her. I don’t know anyone that could have handled this situation better than her. “She hates attention, but she’s handled this with nothing but grace and maturity. She’s an amazing basketball player, but I think I’m just most proud of how she’s handled everything.”

MaoriAfter winning scores of supporters across the nation, Maori Davenport scored 25 points in her first game back. Nicole Craine for ESPN

The Harden experience is unprecedented and undeniable (ESPN)
Love him or hate him, Harden is the most fascinating player in the world right now. And if NBA strategy is largely about putting great players in great situations, Morey and head coach Mike D’Antoni deserve loads of credit here. Morey has surrounded Harden with shooters and lob threats. D’Antoni has engineered simple but brutally effective sets that give his star the most chances to shine. In a copycat league, the Rockets look and feel different, at least for now. If you dislike the Harden aesthetic, your problems aren’t with Morey or Harden himself, they’re with the league office and the rules that don’t just tolerate his quirky life hacks on the court but tacitly encourage this. You can’t throw a rock on the NBA internet without hitting a user complaining about the look and feel of Harden’s offense. But his game is our game. It’s Adam Silver’s game. Hate the game, not the player.


Ellis Wyms Believes Athletes Can Inspire Students to Learn Computer Science (SportTechie)
“We’ve had guys like Warrick Dunn, a 12-year NFL veteran, who has done great work in philanthropy purchasing homes from single moms. We had Booger McFarland, a two-time Super Bowl champion.” “We want to recruit more of these computer science athlete ambassadors. We want to leverage the influence that these athletes and entertainers may have with our kids to inspire them, to create that positive interaction around the learning opportunity.” “Our plan is to partner with the players’ associations in different leagues. We’re about to start a big recruitment drive with the NFLPA and the goal is, as we grow and expand and prove our model, to be able to partner with the NBPA, MLBPA, and NHLPA. There are soccer players, gymnasts, tennis players … anyone that’s gained some notoriety in the world of sports, these kids are probably interested in meeting that person. We want to be able to have a pool of athletes that we can pull from.” “We also want to have other people in sports outside of athletes talk about how they use technology to do their jobs every day. So the goal is to bring in not only athletes but people from around the sports world to highlight how technology is woven throughout the sports industry.”

Atlanta Falcons vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers - December 24, 2005Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Ellis Wyms says bring it on during play against the Atlanta Falcons Dec. 24, 2005 in Tampa. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

The Most Radical Sports Film I’ve Ever Seen (Vulture)
Thus, High Flying Bird follows Dean as he works with the players association (headed by a woman played by Sonja Sohn, who bears more than a passing resemblance to current NBAPA Michele Roberts, his loyal but ambitious protégé (Zazie Beetz) and a rival agent (and mother of a rival player) to reform the entire NBA business from being owner-oriented to player-oriented. (And I haven’t talked about the veteran coach played by the great Bill Duke yet.) His main adversary, the owners’ unofficial leader — played by a delightfully smarmy and self-satisfied Kyle MacLachlan — thinks he’s just doing a normal negotiation with Dean. Normal negotiations are exactly what leagues and owners usually end up winning. But Dean, like Danny Ocean, has a larger game in mind, and that game isn’t basketball; in fact, this has to be the only basketball movie I’ve ever seen that has no actual basketball in it. Put it this way: While being careful about spoilers, this is a movie whose plot hinges on a meeting with Harry Edwards, the legendary author of The Revolt of the Black Athlete. The goal is destroy the game to save it.

High Flying BirdSteven Soderbergh’s High Flying Bird. Photo: Peter Andrews


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