by Sarbjit “Sab” Singh
I’m often asked – as I was last week at the first annual Sports Humanitarian Awards* presented by ESPN – why I started the blog/newsletter Sports Doing Good. Much like more accomplished entrepreneurs out there, I started it because it did not exist. I was someone who wanted to read about stories that I knew were out there – stories of achievement, determination, teamwork, inspiration, etc. – but not regularly or easily found. In talking casually with others, they had the same desire. The past 3.5 years of doing the newsletter has been a gift. I am uplifted by the process each week in looking for and finding the stories, reading them, and then presenting them in a way that makes it quick and easy for the reader to learn about all of the good taking place.
In doing the newsletter, I have had the opportunity to learn about, and sometimes meet, so many great individuals and organizations around the world, including Peace is Sexy. One of the key things I have learned is that “peace” is a regular part of these activities taking place by said individuals and organizations. When I talk of peace it can be “peace of mind” that they experience for themselves or help generate for others. It can be “peace relations” that we see between groups that have long been viewed as combatants for no other reason that “this is the way it has always been.” It is also “peace amongst nations” as we see major efforts at diplomacy now incorporating sports in their strategies to secure their goals, e.g. peace amongst people.
It is hard to select just a couple of the stories to highlight (out of the more than 2,000 featured) but providing some examples will make it clearer just the type of the good work being done out there.
One story that we came across recently is an interview done by a leading sports-based non-profit, love.futbol, with documentary filmmaker Megan Shutzer. Love.futbol, itself, is a great story of a U.S.-based organization that works to help make the playing of soccer a reality for many in impoverished areas, focused on Latin America, who normally would have to do without because of a lack of resources. By working with local partners, love.futbol helps build soccer pitches that can be used by members of the local community. However, in this story, love.futbol was asking the questions of Shutzer, who has just completed a documentary about her time in Zanzibar (Tanzania) and her time with the women’s New Generation Queens soccer team. While the documentary involves soccer, it also addresses so much more, including “the empowerment of women and their journey to challenge long-held stereotypes and express themselves freely.”
Another story that captured our attention involved groups that unfortunately in the U.S. are often wary of each other and many consider unable to work together, the police and everyday citizens. In this story, featured on NBC News, however, members of the Englewood (Chicago) Police Department are working with their fellow members of the community to run the Englewood Police Youth Baseball League. Together, they are using baseball to bring the sides together, to show that they can have fun and find peace in at least one part of the lives. And starting with programs like this, the hope is that such peace will grow, benefitting everyone who is a part of that community.
Taken together, an overriding idea that I have become aware of and now fully embrace is that “peace is possible.” For someone who grew up during the Cold War, only to see the Berlin Wall fall, but who also has seen non-stop conflict in parts of the Middle East for more than 40 years, I wavered when it came to accepting that idea of real peace. However, due to the sheer number of stories that I have seen over the past 3.5 years, and the variety of examples of individuals, athletes, teams, leagues, companies, and non-profits doing good, I am now firmly in the “peace is possible” camp. I understand that peace is not inevitable, but that is the way it should be. If it is something we really want – and peace certainly qualifies – then we must work hard for it. And there are plenty of examples of folks doing just that. What we try to do at Sports Doing Good and what we are starting to see others also do, is promote these positive acts. They serve as models for behavior and inspiration to work towards whatever type of peace is most meaningful to each of us.
In conclusion, what I can offer is that from my perspective, the path to peace, is thankfully, becoming a bit more crowded. Many people are moving from off the sidelines and into the fray so as to effectuate the results they are so passionate about. They see, hear, and read about others they may be able to partner with. Technology, including social media, is facilitating communication. What we must now do is act upon these strong ideas and when it comes to peace, move from aspiration to eventual actualization.
The inaugural ESPN Sports Humanitarian Awards took place on Tuesday, July 14, 2015 in Los Angeles. I had the honor of being one of the judges who selected from the dozens of amazing applications of professional players and teams/organizations who are doing great work in their community and all over the country and world. It was very difficult to choose only four final nominees in each category. The work of those final nominees and organizations are examples of the larger work being done by their colleagues in the world of sports, including efforts aimed at youth health and wellness, child education, anti-bullying, conservation/environment, LGBT rights, gender equality, cancer and other illnesses, and gang violence, amongst others. I thank ESPN and its partners for allocating resources to recognize all of those who are making a difference in their communities and in society at-large. We see this event surely growing each year as there is just so much good work out there that should be recognized.
About Sports Doing Good
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.
Sarbjit “Sab” Singh is the founder/publisher of the Sports Doing Good newsletter and blog. Sab is also a professor of sport management at Farmingdale State College (NY). Sab earned his undergraduate degree from Georgetown University and his MBA and JD from Emory University.