Sports and Social Change


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I was asked by freelance writer Curtis Silver to offer some thoughts on the broader topic of the NFL's handling of domestic abuse by players. Curtis' piece ran on Linkedin with a quote from me, but I thought I'd share all of my thoughts here. There are many issues at hand, including how the league has handled the Ray Rice situation from the start, and I've been looking at the bigger picture here. Maybe you agree, maybe you don't. That's what's great about the forum we have today - the ability to discuss these issues...

NFL FootballIt appears there is a larger issue at hand, and a lot of folks are starting to point to it - the NFL way too lenient in disciplining players for off the field incidents, especially around violence. There is a long list of documented domestic violence and abuse cases involving NFL players and women (girlfriends, spouses, even mothers) and the lack of any significant discipline until Rice's indefinite suspension points to an attitude of indifference, hoping the problems will just go away or assuming they'll move past them quick enough that they won't tarnish the league's image. This piece does a great job of summarizing all of the previous incidents around domestic violence:

In many of these cases, there were no formal charges filed, and the league might try to use that as justification for not penalizing the player with fines & suspensions. However those who deal with domestic violence will attest to the fact that charges aren't always filed, and in many situations the issue is never reported in the first place. There are over 50 documented cases involving NFL players since 2006; no one knows how many were never reported. Maybe only a few. Maybe a lot more.

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We got a note this past week from the good folks at Athlete Ally - one of the Orgs leading the call for respect, inclusion and acceptance in sports regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity - about a big event they're hosting in New York this October. A lot of progress has been made around this issue recently, but there is still a long road ahead and everyone in the sports community can get involved. Here's the full scoop...

Athlete Ally Action Awards

On behalf of Athlete Ally's Board of Directors, I am pleased to invite you to join me at the organization's first annual Athlete Ally Action Awards. The cocktail party will take place on Thursday, October 2 at Cafe Rouge in Manhattan.

The inaugural Athlete Ally Action Awards will recognize individuals and organizations that took pioneering actions in 2014 to help create LGBT inclusive athletic environments and end anti-LGBT prejudice through sport. In 2014, more athletes have come out and more sports organizations have taken a stand for LGBT equality than ever before. LGBT athletes are increasingly being made to feel welcome for who they are and straight allies are leveraging their voices to speak up for LGBT inclusion.

Please celebrate this enormous progress with us on October 2. Help Athlete Ally continue to educate and activate athletic communities to eliminate homophobia and transphobia from sports and to exercise their leadership to champion LGBT respect.

Please purchase your tickets today by clicking HERE
Twitter: @athleteally


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Walking the halls of the Agenda show is always a great chance to see what's hip and happening in pop culture. One of the best lifestyle apparel & footwear trade shows going, Agenda offers the perfect mash-up of street wear and action sports, where many of the top brands showcase what's coming down the pipeline for next year.

I'm always on the lookout for products that transcend the norm with a cause related tie-in, and this year's show presented several brands, new and old, that have embraced a growing trend towards "Upcycling" - basically re-purposing and re-using old and used items into something new and useful. Here's a quick look at a few of the brands that stood out...



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2014 Green Sports Summit For most people, the "green" they think of when it comes to sports is either the grass on the field or the significant amount of money the industry generates. However, there's a growing movement to raise the bar on another green topic in the sports world - environmental responsibility. And I had the opportunity to be at the epicenter of that movement last week at the Green Sports Summit, an annual gathering of sports business professionals who are exploring ways to build a more sustainable and environmentally friendly sports experience for all.

The annual event is organized by the Green Sports Alliance, a nonprofit formed in 2010 with deep "organic" roots in professional sports including founding franchises Seattle Seahawks, Portland Trail Blazers, Seattle Sounders FC, Seattle Mariners, Seattle Storm, Vancouver Canucks along with the Natural Resources Defense Council and Paul Allen's Vulcan, Inc. In 4 short years, they have grown the alliance to include over 240 pro & collegiate sports teams, venues and strong relationships with the NBA, NHL, NFL, MLB, MLS and NLL.

The 2014 Green Sports Summit was a great opportunity for sharing of best practices and examples of what's possible in creating a sports experience that leaves a very small environmental footprint. There were a wide range of presentations around construction topics, energy efficiency & lighting, recycling & composting, sustainable purchasing & sourcing, and transportation. I was drawn to more of the marketing and event discussions, as those intersect with the work we do around Cause Marketing and CSR, but everything I attended was extremely insightful and definitely valuable.

Here are 3 things I learned at the 2014 Green Sports Summit:


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CAUSES SERVED: Athletics, Children & Youth, Education, Literacy, Community, Health
AGE GROUPS SERVED: Children & Youth
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The one-on-one mental and physical challenge that tennis presents often creates something very special in the world of sports. Pure athletic ability only goes so far, and success on the court requires strategy and planning, knowledge of your opponent, quick decision-making skills, and complete focus – much like life itself. And with tennis there are overarching elements of self-awareness, discipline and sportsmanship, which add to its value as a great platform for youth development.

In the greater Boston area, Tenacity has taken all that tennis offers and combined it with a comprehensive academic and mentoring program which serves thousands of at-risk youth every year, building a 15-year winning streak that would make Federer or Nadal jealous. We asked the team at Tenacity to give us a deeper look inside their program and share their thoughts on what makes a winner on the court and in the classroom.


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