Jan. 27 – Feb. 9, 2019
Welcome to issue three hundred and five of the Sports Doing Good newsletter. This week’s 10 stories include:
- Super Bowl or Soapbox? Big Game Advertisers Risk All by Trading Silly for Serious (Variety)
- The legend of Boban Marjanovic (ESPN)
- The Reynas’ Story of Loss and Legacy (Sports Illustrated)
- Why Tony Romo Is a Genius at Football Commentary (New Yorker)
- UNICEF Kid Power and WWE to Empower Youth With New Partnership (Comicbook)
- Inside Giants rookie Grant Haley’s surreal football journey that might just save his mother’s life (NJ.com)
- Athletes and activism: The long, defiant history of sports protests (The Undefeated)
- Behind the Nets’ Success Is a Carefully Crafted Culture and, Finally, a Clue (New York Times)
- In Argentina, 1 woman is challenging soccer’s status quo (USA Today)
- NFL Player Teaches Kids to Be Superheroes and Save the Planet (Good News Network)
New Fund to Support Women in Coaching and Scouting Roles (Beyond Sport)
More than an athlete: How NBA players are building careers beyond basketball (Game Change)
Bridging the divide (Sport and Dev)
Clean and Healthy Competition: Why It Matters (True Sport)
To Whom Much Is Given, Much Will Be Required (Jaren Jackson, Jr.) (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.
We typically feature one video each newsletter but with the Super Bowl last week, one of our favorite websites, Great Big Story, had a bunch of football-related videos. We couldn’t pick just one! So here are four for your enjoyment.
The Hail Mary Pass Started With a Prayer
How the NFL Prepared Me to Be a Nasa Astronaut
From Football Safety to Neurosurgeon
Rudy Goes Robotic: Engineering a New Age of Football
One type of story we really love has to do with an athlete making a go of it in a new place, that place often being the United States. This “fish out of water” scenario happens at every level, including with professional athletes. It may seem easy for a pro basketball player or baseball player to come and just “play the game.” However, the game is but a few hours in a day and for the rest of the time the athlete is no longer an athlete but a regular person trying to fit in, physically, culturally and otherwise. I think of my parents, who came to the U.S. from India in 1968 and marveled at spaghetti and snow in equal measure. This reality is true for the millions of immigrants who have come to the U.S. in the intervening 50 years. A story featuring NBA player Boban Marjanovic takes us into the world of such an immigrant (who by the way has to get used to a new place this week as he was traded from Los Angeles to Philadelphia.)
The other stories we are happy to feature include: the trend of Super Bowl ads coming at us with substance and not just style; a story of loss and legacy for the first family of soccer in the U.S., the Reynas; the emergence of former NFL quarterback Tony Romo as football analyst extraordinaire; a ‘power’ful partnership between UNICEF and the WWE; the New York Giants rookie Grant Haley’s surreal football journey and the impact on his mom; the long and ongoing history of varied athlete activism in the U.S.; the awesome turnaround for the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets; in Argentina, Macarena Sanchez’s challenge of soccer’s status quo; and former NFL player Ovie Mughelli’s mission to make education fun, engaging and accessible.
Finally, if you think others would like to receive the newsletter, please feel free to forward it on or have them contact us directly at email@example.com. (If you do not want to receive the newsletter anymore you can use the Unsubscribe button at the end of the email)
So, enjoy. And have a good week.
Super Bowl or Soapbox? Big Game Advertisers Risk All by Trading Silly for Serious (Variety)
Since 2014, the experience of watching a Super Bowl has become akin to being immersed in a stream of consciousness conversation about profound changes in culture and socioeconomics. Recent Super Bowl ads have lectured viewers about diversity, gender pay equity, environmental sustainability, and immigration. Last year, Fiat Chrysler generated backlash by running a commercial featuring a sermon being read by Dr. Martin Luther King about what it means to serve society. Viewers thought the pastor’s voice ought to be considered sacred when it comes to commercial interests. Madison Avenue has rushed into the social relevance game in a bid to impress younger consumers who are often moved when they hear about a vital cause or progressive goal. But these efforts have sometimes proven risky. Pepsi had to pull a commercial starring Kylie Jenner off the air in 2017 after consumers attacked its premise of having the celebrity attempt to bring protesters and police together with a can of of its flagship beverage. Procter & Gamble’s Gillette recently sparked debate with a commercial urging men to tamp down bullying and harassment. And Nike pressed a hot button last year by tapping former NFL player Colin Kaepernick for a campaign. The one-time San Francisco 49er is best known these days for sparking protest at NFL games about racial injustice.
The legend of Boban Marjanovic (ESPN)
BOBAN MARJANOVIC’S LIFE is a modern-day fable: the gentle giant with a Disney first name who through decency and boundless charm has become a folk hero. But his career has been considerably less storybook. He is on his third team in four years. Heading into this season, he’d started just six games. He’s been a healthy scratch for nearly half his career. It’s not tragedy or anything. Boban makes $7 million a year. He’s got a house in Manhattan Beach. Two kids. He’s fine. But in terms of basketball history and the thin line between who goes down as a legend and who winds up as a colorful footnote, yes, Boban is a tragic figure. The reality is that in any other era, he’d be a monster scorer, a likely All-Star and maybe even a Hall of Famer — but in this era, he has been deemed borderline unplayable. Too lumbering, too slow to chase around all these unicorns who play above the rim and hit pull-up 3s. At a moment in league history when the NBA has made it more or less against the rules to guard people, it’s peculiar that one of the most efficient scorers in NBA history — that’s a fun fact, by the way — can’t get onto the floor because of his defense. This isn’t just a failure of imagination or a scene from one of those sports movies in which the pigheaded coach refuses to play the magical stud at the end of his bench. Boban was discovered by Gregg Popovich and the Spurs. Stan Van Gundy signed him to a three-year deal in Detroit. Rivers and West traded for him in LA. The best minds in basketball see his potential. But so far, he’s been like a sword that no one can pull from the stone, or a killer hook that somehow doesn’t fit into any song.
Per 36 minutes, Boban averages 23.1 ppg, 14 rpg and 1.9 bpg. “It’s simple math, but everybody makes it more complicated,” Tobias Harris says. “He can be a dominant player in this league.” Bethany Mollenkof for ESPN
The Reynas’ Story of Loss and Legacy (Sports Illustrated)
In the years ahead, whenever Claudio joined up with the national team, Jack was the unofficial team mascot, running up and down the sideline at practice. “I never saw anyone laugh and smile as much as him,” says Claudio. “He was so enthusiastic about everything.” Ultimately, as Claudio moved from Rangers to Sunderland to Manchester City to the New York Red Bulls, the Reynas would have four children in all, each with their own personalities and interests. Jack, who once recited poetry in UK speaking competitions with a full posh British accent, loved geography and architecture, and he fell for soccer by memorizing the names of famous stadiums. Giovanni (aka Gio), born in 2002, had a Manc accent that he lost, just as Jack did with his once they came to live in the States in 2007. Always more quiet than Jack, Gio is now one of the U.S.’s top soccer prospects, a 16-year-old forward who blends Claudio’s soccer IQ and Danielle’s athleticism, has his own Adidas video ad and just moved to Germany, where he’s expected to join Borussia Dortmund soon. (Former NYCFC coach Patrick Vieira has compared Gio to his French World Cup-winning teammate David Trezeguet.) Joah-Mikel, now 11, likes cooking and soccer, especially the tactical side of the game. And Carolina, the Reynas’ daughter, whip-smart at age 9, plays several sports and makes sure Joah doesn’t forget anything on his way to school.
Why Tony Romo Is a Genius at Football Commentary (New Yorker)
Romo, who retired two years ago, after a very good but not outstanding career with the Cowboys, has been doing this since he first became a broadcaster, last year. But his prophetic abilities were on particularly fine display in the recent A.F.C. championship game between the New England Patriots and the Kansas City Chiefs. On play after play—fifteen, in all—Romo described what he thought was about to unfold; he guessed correctly thirteen times. (On Twitter, he was dubbed Romostradamus.) He predicted passes to specific players in specific areas. He tabbed a coming blitz by the defense and how many people would be blitzing. “Gronk is out wide!” he said at one point, referring to the Patriots’ tight end Rob Gronkowski. “Watch this safety! If he comes down, it’s a good chance he’s throwing out there!” The safety came down, and the throw, from the Patriots’ quarterback, Tom Brady, to Gronkowski, was complete. Twice, the offensive team did something other than what Romo predicted, and both times the results were poor—one play ended with an incomplete pass, and the other with a turnover. It seemed that, even when Romo was wrong, he was right.
UNICEF Kid Power and WWE to Empower Youth With New Partnership (Comicbook)
UNICEF Kid Power and WWE(NYSE: WWE) today announced a new partnership that will help give kids the power to save lives by connecting their everyday activity to real-world impact. This school year, UNICEF Kid Power and WWE will work together to reach at least 7,000 classrooms across the United States with WWE Superstars featured in a special collection of Kid Power Ups, which are short, interactive videos designed to get kids moving, playing and learning. With each Kid Power Up, students work together and improve social-emotional skills, and with every ten Kid Power Ups, a classroom unlocks a packet of therapeutic food. UNICEF Kid Power is a program of UNICEF USA which helps students discover how their everyday activities – like moving and learning – can make a difference in the world. By getting active with UNICEF Kid Power, kids unlock therapeutic food that UNICEF delivers to severely malnourished children around the world. The more kids move and learn, the more lives they save. UNICEF Kid Power is free for all elementary school teachers.
Inside Giants rookie Grant Haley’s surreal football journey that might just save his mother’s life (NJ.com)
Back in 2014, Grant Haley’s senior year of high school, Carla was diagnosed with Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis, which is a rare and fatal liver disease that is only curable by liver transplant. Because Haley’s first game would be at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, his mother, friends, and family would be able to attend. “It definitely made it special,” Grant Haley told NJ Advance Media on Tuesday at the Georgia World Congress Center. “I didn’t play too much that night, but that was the most nervous that I’ve ever been for a football game. I think just walking out there, really realizing all of the friends and dimly support that I had out there. I just took a moment and thought about it, what it’s been to go through everything … I played my last high school game at the Georgia Dome, being here and playing my first NFL game, was kind of a surreal moment that I had to take in.” As an NFL player, Haley has already begun to use his platform to help raise awareness of his mother’s disease, and help find a donor. “We’re trying to find a living donor right now,” Haley explained. “There’s a Facebook group that you can search, and see if you can get tested, go through the process and requirements to be able to give part of your liver. Ever since we’ve gotten to New York, the media has helped me really well, I can’t thank all of you enough. The numbers have grown tremendously, with people seeing if they can help.”
Athletes and activism: The long, defiant history of sports protests (The Undefeated)
The history of sports protests goes deep. Back, way back, on Jan. 13, 532 A.D., at the chariot races in Constantinople, rival drivers from the Blues and Greens teams asked the emperor Justinian to pardon two of their followers who had been condemned to die. His refusal led to the Nika Revolt, six weeks of rioting that resulted in the deaths of 30,000 people. So taking a knee during the national anthem isn’t exactly unprecedented, or nearly as calamitous. Athletes in modern times have often been moved to protest conditions, to demonstrate that they are citizens of conscience by speaking truth to power. The following timeline of sports protests begins in 1883 and ends with the crescendo of events leading up to Colin Kaepernick taking a knee in 2016. There have been all sorts of protests about race, gender, money and nationality in American and Olympic sports history, but they all have this in common: the constant struggle for justice, supported by the U.S. Constitution, which turns 230 on March 4.
Behind the Nets’ Success Is a Carefully Crafted Culture and, Finally, a Clue (New York Times)
But the blank slate in Brooklyn — where ownership is a largely absentee and ambiguously directed partnership between Mikhail Prokhorov and Joseph Tsai — presented a clean-slate challenge that was more intriguing than daunting. “We knew there were going to be some dark days,” Marks said. “But we all gave up good jobs because we thought we had a chance to build something special.” Before a culture, first came a core. With a flurry of moves deftly manipulating salary cap space, Marks dealt his way into the lower echelons of the draft and emerged with LeVert, a versatile guard, and Jarrett Allen, a mobile, defensive-minded center. Through a trade with the Los Angeles Lakers, he reeled in point guard D’Angelo Russell, the No. 2 pick in the 2015 draft who was recently named an Eastern Conference All-Star. Spencer Dinwiddie, a mercurial guard, parlayed a lifeline from the N.B.A.’s developmental league in December 2016 into a $34 million extension two years later.
In Argentina, 1 woman is challenging soccer’s status quo (USA Today)
CONMEBOL, the governing body of South American soccer, is trying to level the playing field, however. It recently announced that for a men’s team to qualify for the Copa Libertadores, it must also have a women’s team. The women’s version of the event, known as the Copa Libertadores Femenina, has been the premier women’s club tournament in the region since 2009. Brazil has dominated the competition, but Atletico Huila won last year. The prize money for the champions was $55,000, and there was some controversy when one of the players said the money would go to the men’s team, although the issue was later resolved. There have been some recent improvements in the women’s game, however. Ahead of last year’s World Cup qualifying tournament, the Argentine women’s team was allowed to train at the same complex where Messi and the rest of the men’s team prepare for their games, grounds that until recently were reserved for men only. The team’s progress and eventual qualification received the support of Messi and several professional Argentine clubs. Many female players say they feel part of a cultural change driven by Argentina’s strong feminist movement, which has mobilized tens of thousands to fight against violence against women, and helped them gain ground in politics and the workplace.
In this Jan. 31, 2019 photo, soccer player Macarena Sanchez poses for a photo at her home in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Sanchez is taking legal action against her club and the Argentine soccer association for not recognizing her as a professional player. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
NFL Player Teaches Kids to Be Superheroes and Save the Planet (Good News Network)
Ovie is harnessing the ‘universal power of sport’ in comic book form, to inspire generations of eco-conscious citizens. His graphic novel can guide and motivate diverse kids from underserved communities to grow into the green leaders of today and tomorrow. In 2009 he founded his nonprofit Ovie Mughelli Foundation to use the latest technology to make ”environmental protection education available to everyone” while emphasizing STEM education. His new crowdfunding project was just launched in partnership with Projects for Good, a community site that aggregates support for socially responsible projects. His goal is to expand the storyline of the comic series into a curriculum that meets state standards, as well as create a companion VR module that interactively educates anyone on day to day, practical lifestyle choices they can make to help the environment and to develop STEM skills for the workforce.