Sports Doing Good Newsletter, #307

Feb. 24 – March 9, 2019

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

  1. Breakdancing has been proposed as a new Olympic sport, and this absolutely needs to happen (SB Nation)
  2. Nevarez Blazing Latina Trail at West Coast Conference (Portada)
  3. Soccer Roots Grow Deeper in The Town (East Bay Express)
  4. ‘Professor Cope’: NFL linebacker’s offseason job? Teaching ‘Life 101′ (ESPN)
  5. Hillary Allen Found Inspiration Online After Falling off a Cliff (SportTechie)
  6. Players associations are bolstering assistance programs to help active and retired players pursue education (SportsBusiness Journal)
  7. In her shoes (ESPN)
  8. A female cyclist shut down a race by catching up to the men (GOOD)
  9. Esports Gets Its Next Stamp of Approval — From Hip-Hop Stars (OZY)
  10. Slow Enough to Be a Sponsored Runner (New York Times)

Taking part in sport within an inclusive education setting (Sport and Dev)      International Women’s Day 2019 (The Players Tribune)
Coaches Across Continents & Pathfinder International Partner on Women’s Health (Beyond Sport)
U.S. Soccer Joins IF/THEN Initiative to Promote Women in STEM (Beyond Sport)
Moroccan climber inspires girls to conquer fears (Peace and Sport)

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.

4 Year Old Mic’d up at Hockey (YouTube)
Roller Skating Is Back, and It’s Got Moxie (Great Big Story)

One of the benefits of doing the Sports Doing Good newsletter for as along as we have is that we get to see changes in the marketplace, some good and some not so good (we, of course, focus on the former). One of those “goods” is the emergence of new or oft-forgotten sports and activities.

This week our first story is sort of a dream come true, or at least on the way to possibly becoming true. Breakdancing, a cherished but overlooked activity, has found its way into consideration for the Summer Olympics 2024 in Paris. We are thrilled. For those who may snicker at this, they are missing the bigger picture. The Olympics are a living entity that must evolve (remember, there was a time when women were not allowed to compete.) Sports that were looked down upon, e.g. snowboarding, have become some of the most popular on the Olympic docket. Our prediction: breakdancing is not picked for Paris but instead makes its grand debut in one of the meccas of hip-hop culture, Los Angeles, in 2028.

The other stories we are happy to feature this week include: pioneering sports administrator Gloria Nevarez, the first Latina commissioner of a Division I collegiate athletic conference; Devante Dubose, one of the first players for new National Premier Soccer League team, the Oakland Roots; NFL player and part-time professor (seriously), Brandon Copeland; the incredible ultrarunner Hillary Allen and her recovery from devastating injuries; how professional player associations are bolstering assistance programs to help active and retired players pursue higher education; a photo essay of young and fierce female athletes; a bike race with a staggered start ending up having some of the women catch up with the men’s race; how hip-hop stars are adding a bit of flavor, and coolness, to the world of esports; and how non-elite, but incredibly inspirational athletes, are being sponsored by sports brands that want to tell stories different from what has been done in the past.

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So, enjoy. And have a good week.

Breakdancing has been proposed as a new Olympic sport, and this absolutely needs to happen (SB Nation)
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is considering a proposal from the organizer of the 2024 games in Paris to add breakdancing as an official Olympic sport. It’s a move that aims to make the games “more urban” and “more artistic”, according to a report from the BBC. Breakdancing first debuted on the Olympic stage in 2018 as part of the Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires to acclaim from watchers. It was one of the most-popular events in the games, as fans watched Russia’s Sergei Chernyshev (who competes as “Bumblebee”) win gold, and if that’s not the best sentence you’ve read today then I don’t know what to tell you. The youth Olympic format featured head-to-head dance battles, which is the proposed format that would carry through to the Olympic games. The IOC has until December of 2020 to decide whether breakdancing will be allowed into the games…I unabashedly love the Olympic Games, but let’s face it: It can be a little dry sometimes. Now, maybe that will change with skateboarding being added in 2020, but I need more of this kind of stuff in my life. Please, please, please make this happen.

BreakdancingPhoto by Dominik Bindl/Getty Images

Nevarez Blazing Latina Trail at West Coast Conference (Portada)
Her ascendance to the WCC’s top position is important as inspiration to young Latinas, but also provides a fresh look at the Hispanic populations within the league’s footprint. “It’s helpful for young women of color to see examples of people who look like themselves, achieving in ways that they may not have imagined yet,” she says. “And I do like the idea of inspiring. I hope that there are up and coming Latinos that aspire to be leaders in college athletics and that if we cross paths I hope that I can help them on their journey. I encourage them to reach out to myself and others to continue to build our collegiate community.” To that end, Nevarez has instituted a study of the 67-year-old league’s diversity with the goal of marketing to this important demographic, both within the student populations and the local communities. “We are currently in the process of conducting a league-wide audit of the various programs and initiatives at our institutions,” notes Nevarez. “I think there is tremendous opportunity to create an athletics specific initiative under the league umbrellas.

NevarezJerry Milani @gbpackjerry

Soccer Roots Grow Deeper in The Town (East Bay Express)
“Being born and raised in Oakland, Devante has a passion and determination for the vision of our club that extends well beyond success on the field,” Nagel said. “His commitment to our community and our ability, together, to leverage the power of sport to inspire young people in Oakland means that we’re acquiring much more than just a highly talented soccer player.” The player announcement included the release of a 60-second YouTube clip featuring Dubose wearing Roots merchandise at Lake Merritt, Jack London Square, Frank Ogawa Plaza, and other Oakland spots. The polished video immediately created buzz around the club on social media, drawing praise from sportswriters and soccer fans nationwide over the Roots’ inspired, offbeat branding. The Dubose signing was just one of several moves the Roots franchise has made recently as it prepares to join the National Premier Soccer League — a pro league that will have 11 teams nationwide, divided between East and West divisions.

DuboseDevante Dubose. Photo courtesy of the Oakland Roots

‘Professor Cope’: NFL linebacker’s offseason job? Teaching ‘Life 101′ (ESPN)
The course Copeland nicknamed “Life 101″ was his own creation, a practical usage class to give financial information to college students who might not otherwise have it. “I don’t care if you’re an engineering student, a nursing student, if you’re going to build rockets when you grow up or if you’re going to sweep floors. You’re going to have to use something in this class,” Copeland said. “And you can’t say that for every class at Penn. Every student. Every major. “Even if you don’t go to college, you’re going to use something in this class. Your credit is going to matter.” He’s an unorthodox professor without the degrees but with the chops to teach college students. Growing up in a middle-class household in Baltimore, he attended the prestigious Gilman School primarily on scholarship and worked at a local hedge fund. During his first year at Penn, he worked night shift as a stock boy at Walmart. Then came internships at UBS and an NFL offseason job as a data analyst at Weiss Multi-Strategy Advisers on Wall Street. He opened a real estate company last year.

CopelandBrandon Copeland talks with his co-professor, Brian Peterson, left. Copeland teaches the class for about the first 90 minutes, and Peterson takes the final 70. Courtesy Michael Rothstein

Hillary Allen Found Inspiration Online After Falling off a Cliff (SportTechie)
In August 2017, Hillary Allen fell off a cliff halfway through the Hamperokken Skyrace ultramarathon in the mountains of Norway. She dropped 150 feet, hitting the rocks on her way down, and blacked out. Allen broke a dozen bones and tore a ligament in her right foot. Though neither leg was broken, a doctor told her the injuries were bad enough she might never run again. Allen, aka “Hillygoat,” was determined to fight her way back. During her long recovery and rehabilitation, she began using the social exercise platform Strava, and became more active on social media in general. She found encouragement from a supportive online community, some of whom have become real-life pen pals. Last June, less than a year since her accident, Allen raced the Broken Arrow Vertical Kilometer in Squaw Valley, Calif. She finished a close second in her return to competition, completing the steep 3.1-mile course in 46 minutes and 28 seconds. Besides being sponsored by The North Face as an ultrarunner, Allen is a science instructor at Front Range Community College near Boulder. She is also fascinated by insects. Earlier this year, Strava launched a podcast hosted by Allen called Athletes Unfiltered. The episodes feature people from across the athletic spectrum who have faced and overcome their own challenges, from injury to addiction and assault. After recording for the first series finished, and as Allen was getting ready for races ahead in 2019, she slipped on a training run, breaking her right ankle. Now she is restarting the long journey back to health again.

Hillary Allen(Photo courtesy of Hillary Allen. Photo credit: Greg Mionske)

Players associations are bolstering assistance programs to help active and retired players pursue education (SportsBusiness Journal)
Almost all players who enter any of the three leagues are guaranteed funding for a college education, which they can access during their playing days and — in most cases — in the years that follow. Preparation for what’s next can include traditional degree programs, professional certificates, seminars and even mentoring programs such as one offered at Harvard Business School, which each year accepts as many as 50 professional athletes at no cost. The challenge is turning that opportunity into results. All players aren’t equally motivated to continue their education, aware of the role it likely will play in an often uncertain future or cognizant of the support systems that the players associations and MLB have put in place. And even those motivated to get started face the often daunting task of marrying the rigid schedule of their sport to an academic calendar. “I try to make it a priority to carve out time to focus on just class,” Middleton said. “It may take just one day a week. Go in and watch an hourlong class and spend three or four hours after that working on that class. You can make it work. That’s why I’m always telling guys in my locker room to take advantage of it.

Crossover into BusinessHarvard professor Anita Elberse leads a discussion as part of the Crossover Into Business mentoring program geared toward professional athletes in the university’s School of Business. Photo: Kwame Owusu-Kesse

In her shoes (ESPN)
As a mom of two girls who dabble in Instagram and Snapchat, I am constantly looking over their annoyed shoulders narrating their feeds like a crazed color commentator. “Photoshopped!” “Filtered!” “No one’s skin looks like that!” My feed, as I imagine is yours, is chock full of perfect bodies, smiles, skin, hair and clothes. Everyone is always having “#TheBestTimeEver.” Even at 42, I have trouble remembering that none of the perfection is real. The unrealistic perfection that girls see every time they check their phones … well, often that’s what they think they want to do or be or look like. They aspire to achieve something that isn’t even real. Perfect, hairless, poreless, smiling women selling tummy teas for flatter stomachs. The influencers are influencing. I am on a mission to show girls an alternate view. To elevate strength instead of beauty. To show real girls doing real things in real ways. “In Her Shoes” does exactly this. From expert climbers to high school wrestlers to soccer players, their shoes and stories are all so varied, but at their core — the same. Girls who are strong, proud and passionate about their sports. Girls who use their voices. Girls who are changing our views and the conversation.

In her shoesFor International Women’s Day, strong, proud and passionate athletic girls tell us why their shoes help define who they are. Photos and Text by Kate T. Parker

A female cyclist shut down a race by catching up to the men (GOOD)
A woman gets ahead. The woman gets stopped from going further. She’s coming too close to the men. They need to keep their distance from women. It could be the familiar story of a woman attempting to shatter the glass ceiling, or it could be the story of a woman shattering… the bicycle race gap. During the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad race, Swiss cyclist Nicole Hanselmann caught up to the men’s race, despite the fact the men’s race started a good 10 minutes prior. “[Maybe] the other women and me were [too] fast or the men [too] slow,” Hanselmann wrote on Instagram of the moment. The women’s race was temporarily halted for ten minutes to restore the gap between the men and women’s races, literally separating the boys from the girls. The gap was to prevent clashes between the two races – although clearly the original gap didn’t stop that from happening, as Hanselmann proved her prowess. The Twitter account from the race posted the gap was closed “due to a very slow men’s race.”

HanselmannEsports Gets Its Next Stamp of Approval — From Hip-Hop Stars (OZY)
Even a year ago, there was no sign of an esports-rap convergence. Today, artists like Drake, Soulja Boy and Meek Mill, and entertainment executives like Scooter Braun, are planting their stakes in the ground, on Twitch streams and through esports-themed music festivals, marketing deals and apparel collaborations. In 2018, at least four festivals — PLAY Festival by Insomniac, the ICBC e-Sports & Music Festival by the Hong Kong Tourism Board, Hyperplay by Riot Games and MTV and the Harrisburg University Esports Festival by the university and iHeartMedia — married esports and music. In October, Drake and Braun became co-owners of one of esports hottest brands, 100 Thieves, which also has a successful apparel business of which Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert is an investor. Drake’s clothing line, October’s Very Own, is a favorite at esports tournaments. Diddy recently invested in American high school esports tournament organizer PlayVS; Lil Yachty was brought on as brand ambassador and entertainment consultant for esports organization FaZe Clan; and both Soulja Boy and Meek Mill are recruiting gamers to form their own esports team. And Lil Yachty, 21 Savage and Lil Pump have made their love of gaming known, entertaining fans on Twitch — much like Ninja.

Hip-hop gamingSlow Enough to Be a Sponsored Runner (New York Times)
Guli is sponsored by Reebok, which gives her gear, a media campaign around her quest and, maybe most important of all, for the logistics of her quest, money. She is not entirely an unknown — she is the founder and chief executive of Thirst, a nonprofit that raises awareness about the global water crisis — but she is hardly a social media star. Her Instagram account has just over 3,000 followers, a pittance in the influencer world. In other words, Reebok isn’t just throwing products at runners in exchange for pretty pictures on their Instagram feeds. Rather, Reebok and other companies are going after unique narratives they hope will inspire people. They’re doing this at a time when participants are as likely to be influenced by what someone who looks like them is wearing as the runner who ends up with a gold medal. “Ultimately, they want to be able to tell a story,” said Merhawi Keflezighi, founder and president of HAWI Management, which represents athletes like his brother Meb, the long-distance runner, and the Paralympic sprinter Jarryd Wallace.


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Our goal is to have Sports Doing Good be a portal housing original content and excerpts from and links to the increasing number of articles, websites, video, and other media that showcase the good in sports and society. We aim to celebrate those concepts, activities, events, and individuals by highlighting them for a wider audience. Much of the news today, whether sports- related or not, is incredibly negative and increasingly polarizing, biased, and quite annoying. We are trying to refocus some of the discussion on the good, with a focus on sports.

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