With all the turmoil in sports right now, it seems like the perfect time to remind people of the good that’s left in competitive athletics.
For every domestic abuse case, there is a man running a foundation that helps his city, donations being made to good causes or a league that devotes a month to breast cancer awareness.
There may be racism in the National Basketball Association, specifically among its owners, but at the same time, the Basketball Without Borders program has never been more successful at giving underprivileged players from developing countries a chance to fulfill their NBA dreams.
The National Football League has taken a lot of heat this week due to the domestic abuse case of Ray Rice and now the child abuse rumours involving superstar running back Adrian Peterson, but Charles Tillman proves that there are still feel good stories in the NFL.
Tillman is a two-time Pro Bowl selection but more importantly, he has impacted thousands of people in the Chicago area through his foundation.
The Charles Tillman Cornerstone Foundation, provides children’s hospital patients with iPads, laptops, gaming systems and other forms of entertainment to help the kids pass time and has also given out over $1 million to families in at-risk areas of Chicago. Tillman has also helped build a school in Camden, N.J., participated in a moral tour in Iraq and served meals on Thanksgiving last year to local troops.
Basketball Without Borders selects the top players from Asia, Africa, Europe and Latin America to train with NBA players and coaches. An additional outreach component of the program assists the communities that the players come from in creating safe places where families can live, learn and play basketball.
By dividing the players into teams regardless of their race or country, Basketball Without Borders promotes diversity and has mentored 1,500 players in more than 100 countries since the program began in 2001.
Every October, the NFL goes pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Players clad in pink game cleats, arm sleeves and gloves take to the field using special game balls and pink coins to help raise awareness for the important crusade. At the end of the month, each player’s items, along with the game balls and coins, are then auctioned off with the proceeds being donated to the American Cancer Society.
One of the biggest internet trends of 2014 has been the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. You probably know a friend who has posted an Instagram video of them doing the challenge, but the real reason behind the challenge is to raise money and awareness for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis — a motor neuron disease that directly affects one’s ability to swallow, breath and speak.
Many athletes have been a part of making the ALS challenge such a success, but one of the most important athletes in this campaign is Pete Frates, a former Boston College baseball player who has ALS. His participation of the challenge brought it to the light of his sporting connections as athletes became the focus of the challenge and brought the challenge to the international media’s attention.
The media loves to report on the negatives of sport, but there are many positives and the examples touched on here are only the beginning of what sports have for feel good stories.
Photo: Flickr/US Army