San Francisco knows how to throw a party – first there was Super Bowl 50, which was the most giving Super Bowl ever. Then there was the Rugby World Cup Sevens, where over 100,000 fans walked through the gates of AT&T Park, making it the highest attended rugby event in the United States. The event set records of all sorts, and while the United States didn’t have the best results, it did inspire the next generation of fans. According to USA Rugby, “Aspiring players were able to tangibly see the spectacle of the sport as USA Rugby and Impact Beyond look to carry on that legacy. In tandem with Play Rugby USA< Rugby NorCal, USA Rugby Academy and Playworks Northern California, Impact Beyond engaged nearly 22,000 youth and raised almost $200,000 that will directly support greater Bay Area community programs and youth rugby development.”
Impact Beyond strives to accomplish 4 goals:
Through the wild success of this event, USA Rugby plans to replicate the legacy program in other US cities. This shouldn’t be surprising, as legacy foundations of major events are a growing trend around the world. It helps distinguish large-scale events and helps localize the community efforts to reach those at a grassroots level.
Football is back. Over the weekend, the NFL had its first preseason game of the year – the Hall of Fame game. With this game, came the 2018 inductee class for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Leading up to the event, it was chronicled that Brian Dawkins struggled with mental health issues. Struggle is an understatement – he not only had suicidal thoughts, but he planned his suicide so that his wife would receive the insurance money.
Many people understand that football provides so much structure to life. Every minute is planned from meetings, to rehab, to meals, strategy, etc. When players retire, they struggle to cope with the freedom that comes with retirement – many would believe that this is when Dawkins struggled with depression because he was unable to find his identity. These people would be wrong. During the early days of his playing career, during his rookie and sophomore season, Dawkins was in a dark place. He contemplated suicide and his wife was the only thing that helped him through it. She reached out to Emmitt Thomas, one of Dawkins’ coaches, and the two were able to help get Dawkins on the right track again.
Dawkins took time during his Hall of Fame speech to recount his battle with depression and mental health illness. He said, “So for those who are going through it right now, there’s hope. You do have hope. There is something on the other side of this. Don’t get caught up where you are. Don’t stay where you are. Keep moving. Keep pushing through.” This was one of the most powerful moments of the night because he acknowledged his battle with depression, and is living proof that it can be beaten. Mental health should be seen as a continuum – it is not a yes or no answer. Rather, we all have issues and some days are better than others. By bringing attention to this issue, Dawkins assuredly saved lives through his speech. He reached people through his speech who are suffering, and he gave them hope. This is what the power of sports can do for strangers – it can unite, heal and help overcome any issue that life throws our direction.
In late July, Special Olympics celebrated its 50th anniversary with events and concerts throughout the city of Chicago. 50 years after its birth, more than five million athletes from 172 countries are a part of the Special Olympics family. In honor of the Games’ 50th anniversary, a special unified program was held, where athletes with and without intellectual disabilities were able to participate in events together.
The Special Olympics Unified Cup took place from July 17-20. Other events included a Global Day of Inclusion, benefit concert and a torch run that raised over $4.5 million for Special Olympics. Runners came from all over Chicago, the state and the world. Participants ran to a new monument, the Eternal Flame of Hope, which symbolizes inclusion. The entire event welcomed thousands of athletes and supporters to Chicago, all for one amazing cause and an incredible theme: inclusion.
On July 19, 2018, in advance of the ESPYS, more than two dozen athletes and leaders in sport and youth development spoke at the Laureus Summit. It aimed to shine a light on sports positive impact on youth and communities across the globe. To make matters even more celebratory, it fell on the 100th birthday of Laureus’ founding patron, Nelson Mandela. With speeches from Chris Paul, to Edwin Moses, to Laureus USA CEO Benita Fitzgerald Mosley, the event brought the star power. Mosley said, “From community playing fields to professional stadiums, sport is a global language that has the power to unite us all. It is especially impactful in the lives of youth, who can learn life-long values and lessons through their participation.” Paul added on by saying, “I’ve learned through sport and action that it’s one of the only things where you don’t see race, you don’t see gender, everyone just comes together.”
According to the organization itself, Laureus USA also announced the results of its annual State of Sport for Good Report, which revealed that sport can play a significant role in reducing discrimination among children and youth in the United States. The report, which combined the results of 140 sport for development organizations collectively serving more than 850,000 youth, found that these programs are effectively improving their communities and helping to reduce discrimination among the youth that they serve.
In addition, Laureus USA announced the launch of Sport for Good LA for 2019. Sport for Good LA, which provides grants to non-profit organizations that use sport to improve the lives of youth, will mark the fifth Sport for Good City as part of the #20×20 campaign, with a goal of bringing Sport for Good Cities program to 20 cities by the year 2020.
A 3-time NBA Champion, 3-time NBA Finals MVP, and 4-time NBA MVP, LeBron James is no slacker. In fact, he’s been in the spotlight for over fifteen years as “the next big thing” and then an NBA superstar. The comparisons to Michael Jordan have been in full swing for over a decade, yet James has continued to impress both with his ability on and off the court. This past week however, he made the largest impact yet, with the opening of the I Promise School. It opened the first week of August in Akron, Ohio, as a joint effort between the LeBron James Family Foundation and Akron Public Schools. Its objective is to educate at-risk youth in Akron and identify those who have fallen behind in school and help accelerate their learning.
The school will have a longer school day and school year, and those students that complete the school’s program will get tuition provided by James at the University of Akron, beginning in 2021. Services are available for students, to help them cope with stress as it relates to parents who are struggling to make ends meet. In addition, there are activities to prevent the kids from having too much idle time and potentially getting into trouble.
The school also provides services to families, including job placement assistance for parents and an on-site food bank that will allow parents to pick out foods they can prepare at home. Finally, James credits his bicycle as a huge factor in his childhood that gave him an escape from dangerous parts of his neighborhood and the freedom to explore – every student will receive a bicycle when they arrive.
James recently went on CNN and explained that sports is a unifier… it’s what allowed all athletes to get to their place in life. He believes that his peers owe it to future generations to pay it forward and provide resources to those at-risk. James has always been a philanthropist, especially to his hometown of Akron. It will be interesting to see how the school operates, as potentially 50-75% of it will be publicly funded, as it is a part of the public-school system. Interestingly enough, most schools that are started by celebrities are charter schools or private ones. One thing is for sure – James will always have the students’ best interests at heart.
The Women’s Sport Trust has launched an official supporters’ club with a new ‘First XV’ for 15 brands looking to support women’s sport. Data agency Two Circles predicts that the number of fans attending elite women’s sport in the United Kingdom will pass half a million for the first time ever. The charity said that the First XV campaign will bring together a select group of organizations that fully support women’s sport.
Women’s Sport Trust First XV, joint-CEO Jo Bostock, said: “These pioneering brands will be instrumental in changing the leadership and funding landscape for women’s sport. We are incredibly excited about partnering with like-minded organizations who share our passion to make change happen. Progress for women’s sport in recent years has been magnificent, but we are impatient to do more, and want to hear from brands with equal drive for positive change in this space.” According to Women in Sport and Beyond Sport, brand partners in the First XV will commit to a £15,000 annual fee, with expressions of interest open until 3rd August, before the First XV are officially unveiled at a launch event in October.
This is critical because it will raise much needed awareness for a segment of the industry that is still fighting for equal footing with its peer. Despite the fact that there are more women in the world than men and that sport fans are more equal in number than ever, the support for women’s sport has still lagged compared to the men’s side. As a result, Women’s Sport Trust raises the visibility and increases the impact of women’s sport through the promotion of diverse athlete role models, increasing media coverage and improving the funding landscape. They are a leading UK charity focused on using the power of sport to accelerate gender equality and stimulate social change.
Click here to read more.
As a part of the groundbreaking collaboration between the NFL and the NFLPA, the Players Coalition was born during the 2017 season. The league and its teams promised the coalition $89 million to be designated for social issues as well as support for causes near and dear to its players’ hearts. One such issue is criminal justice reform. According to Monday Morning Quarterback (MMQB), three Patriots players spent time this offseason working to impact local district attorney races. Devin McCourty, along with his twin brother Jason, and longtime Patriots player Matthew Slater were at Lilla G. Frederick Pilot Middle School to moderate a forum for the five candidates running to replace the outgoing district attorney for Boston and the rest of Suffolk County.
The candidates all had different backgrounds – race, religion, sex –but what mattered the most to the audience was how they’d handle the issues most important to their community. According to MMQB, this forum was one in a series hosted in five different cities across the U.S. by members of the Players Coalition. The local district attorney races in 2018 have been a focal point for NFL players, since DAs control who is charged with crimes and how the person is punished.
According to Jenny Vrentas, “the three Patriots spent a week brainstorming questions about mass incarceration, the juvenile system, immigration and police-community relations. They encouraged the audience members to educate themselves and cast their vote—‘helping communities understand how they can help themselves,’ McCourty said. Afterward, as the players lingered to talk to the audience members, some asked questions about the hot-button topic of the anthem demonstrations, but McCourty said they tried to keep the focus on the issues central to the September DA primary.
“That’s what we have talked about numerous times,” McCourty said. “Making sure no matter what comes up, the Eagles’ White House visit being canceled or the new anthem policy, we are going to stay focused on what we believe in, and that’s helping our communities.”
Click here to read more.
On Sunday, July 8, the Chicago Sky bested Kevin Durant, 2-time NBA Finals MVP and 2-time NBA Champion. He had previously held the world record for the largest single-venue basketball clinic, with 1,150 participating in his camp in New Delhi, India. This past Sunday, the Chicago Sky hosted a free basketball clinic for 1,442 people at Soldier Field, breaking Durant’s world record. With the goal of growing the sport at a grassroots level in Chicago, consider it mission accomplished. “Success for one of us in this league is success for all of us,” Sky guard Diamond DeShields said. “To have the WNBA on such a high platform as the Guinness Book of World Records will hopefully bring some promotion to our league and to our team specifically. We’re all about trying to grow this game and we want to make Chicago women’s basketball one of the premier teams in the country.”
Sky head coach, Amber Stocks, directed kids and parents through 30 minutes of basketball drills. This is special for all involved because the team is able to organically grow the sport within the city of Chicago. By having over 1,400 people participate, the Sky created a unique experience for everyone in attendance. Not only did families engage with Sky players and staff members, but they were able to do so alongside peers, neighbors and strangers. By creating a unified event, the Sky successfully used the sport to bridge the gap to its community members.
Click here to read more.
When the Minnesota Lynx won the WNBA championship in June, they expected an invitation from the White House to commemorate their win. After all, they had been celebrated by the president in 2011, 2013, and 2015. Still, the team decided they wanted to schedule a visit to D.C., but this time, for a different reason.
On June 7, the Lynx arrived at Payne Elementary school to distribute new shoes and socks to the school's low-income students. Thirty percent of students at Payne are homeless, and through their partnership with Samaritan's Feet Shoes of Hope, the Lynx were able to provide much needed supplies to those in need. They also invited all the students to their game against the Washington Mystics the following day.
The WNBA has always been the leading pro league when it comes to community service and meaningful philanthropy. This occasion was no different. The Lynx took a negative, disrespectful moment and turned it into an opportunity for impact.
Click here to read more.
The news of family separation and child detention at the border has flooded our newsfeed this past month. The Trump Administration proclaimed a "zero-tolerance" immigration policy which landed more than 2,500 children in detention centers. After much uproar from the public, Trump issued an executive order to end family separations, yet 2,000 children are reportedly still in detention.
Meanwhile, Washington Redskins Josh Norman and New Orleans Saints Demario Davis teamed up to do something for the lucky few who had been reunited with their families. The NFL players met at a Walmart in San Antonio, Texas at 3am and browsed the aisles for toys, book bags, and other gifts for the families who had been detained. They later assembled care packages and drove to the border to personally meet with the families and offer their gifts. Davis later tweeted, "I don't care how much the world hates. I will always choose love. #BorderChildren"
It's not often that we see activists crossing lines to address issues that don’t directly affect them. Usually, people act on causes near to their heart because they have been impacted or know someone who has been impacted by a certain problem. In this case, however, Norman and Davis went out of their way to invest in a social issue of another people group. That kind of empathy put into action is a special act of service, and we will certainly continue to see athletes use their resources and platform to advocate for causes that are outside their scope of experience.
Click here to read more.