Obama’s Presidential Inauguration Drawing Interest from Several Pro Athletes

Barack Obama

The AP’s Joseph White wrote, “From Tiger Woods to Muhammad Ali, Dave Winfield to Dikembe Mutombo, a sports world that has paid more attention to politics than usual the last few months wants to be part of the party when Barack Obama is inaugurated as the nation’s first black president on Tuesday.”

Hall of Fame coach John Thompson: “”The Emancipation Proclamation freed our bodies. This emancipation frees our minds to know there’s no limits as to what you can accomplish.”

White added that last fall, pro athletes “across the country said they were paying more attention to the presidential race than usual, in part because of the nature of Obama’s candidacy and in part because of eight polarizing years under outgoing President George W. Bush.”

Meanwhile, “viewing parties and ad-hoc get-togethers are planned for teams and fans wherever they happen to be” during tomorrow’s inauguration. The Chicago White Sox “even sent out a release proudly announcing that their mascot, Southpaw, has a spot on the Illinois float in the inauguration parade” (Joseph White, AP, 1/18). Read the entire article from the AP

Tonight in Indianapolis, Coach Hunter Goes Barefoot Again for Samaritan’s Feet

Ron Hunter

Tonight in Indy, IUPUI men’s basketball coach Ron Hunter is going to continue something he started last year. In 2008, Hunter generated buzz last year when he coached an entire game without wearing shoes or socks. The effort raised awareness and donations for Samaritan’s Feet, which collects shoes for underprivileged children around the world. Last year’s goal was to generate 40,000 pairs of shoes. The effort netted 140,000 pairs.

ESPN.com’s Kyle Whelliston wrote, “The gesture’s effect resonated and rippled outward from Indianapolis — national media coverage and word of mouth helped the organization collect more than three times the expected haul, which was redistributed in Africa and South America last summer. All because a college basketball coach spent a game last season without wearing shoes.”

Samaritan’s Feet spokesperon Todd Melloh: “What Coach Hunter did that day was an enormous blessing to our organization. A coach is one of the most respected positions in this society; people look up to them and follow their lead. So when a coach decides to perform an act like this, it shows that this powerful platform can be used to reach those who are less fortunate.”

This year, Whelliston noted that “over 300 coaches nationwide — from Division I to high schools to rec leagues — will take their shoes off for a game at some point during the coming week.” Samaritan’s Feet’s goal “is to bring in 1 million pairs of shoes.”

Samaritan’s Feet Founder Manny Ohonme said, “It’s phenomenal how much this has grown in the last year. That one coach could help raise over 140,000 pairs of shoes shows how one man can make a difference, that one man can help give a voice to thousands of voiceless children around the world. Now imagine hundreds of coaches unified towards that same goal” (Kyle Whelliston, ESPN.com, 1/15). Read the entire article from ESPN.com

Photo credit: IUPUI

Writer Recalls Service of Oklahoma Football Team

The Moore American’s Michael Kinney recalled “an uncommon act that we hardly ever hear about in the sports pages today.” Earlier in the year, Kinney reported on the Oklahoma University football team’s effort to build a house for Habitat for Humanity, writing “almost a hundred young men took time out during a busy summer … to do something for others who were less fortunate.”

After a year of news “filled with steroids, dogfighting, murders, guns and drugs,” the OU story is “only just to remind you that sports is not just filled with greed and depravity.” The “majority” of athletes are “good people who do good things” (The Moore American, 12/12).

Dick Butkus Takes Back Butkus Award to Better Position it as Charity Vehicle

Butkus Award

In Winston-Salem, Dan Collins writes that NFL Hall of Famer Dick Butkus “didn’t like how the Downtown Athletic Club of Orlando was operating the Butkus Fund, which annually presents the Butkus Award to the top linebacker in college football.” So Butkus “moved the fund and the award bearing his name to Chicago.”

Butkus: “The whole deal with the Butkus Award is to raise money for charity. I think I’ll wake up tomorrow fine if there’s not an award named after me. It’s a vehicle to raise some money” (Dan Collins, Winston-Salem Journal, 12/10). Read the entire article from the Winston-Salem Journal

Image credit: Butkus Award

Jimmy V Week Returns for a Second Year on ESPN Platforms; First Year Raised $700K

Jim Valvano’s 1993 ESPY Speech (11:15)

ESPN is in the midst of running its second Jimmy V Week this week. Last year’s inaugural event pulled in over $700,000 for the V Foundation for Cancer Research.

The second annual Jimmy V Week – a week-long initiative featuring special content across ESPN platforms and programs to drive awareness of and donations to The V Foundation for Cancer Research — began last night and will conclude Tuesday, December 9.

ESPN, Inc. and ABC Sports President George Bodenheimer: “Jimmy V Week is a shining example of sports and teamwork whose results go beyond any game. I’m proud of our employees and fans joining together for this great cause.”

As part of a Team ESPN initiative, employees companywide have volunteered for several months to develop Jimmy V Week content and implement the strategy.

To highlight the initiative to drive donations and awareness for cancer research, Jimmy V Week content will be incorporated into studio programs and event telecasts, including SportsCenter, college basketball (men’s and women’s), football, soccer and hockey, NBA, PBA and more. The week will also include content on ESPN.com, ESPN360.com, ESPNEWS, ESPNU, ESPN Classic and ESPN Mobile; special vignettes; and specific Jimmy V Week on-air graphics (V Foundation for Cancer Research).

For complete information about all the elements and programs around Jimmy V Week, please visit the V Foundation’s Web site.

Video added to YouTube: September 28, 2008

24 Hours of Booty’s Lueders Awarded with “Unsung Hero Award” in Charlotte

24 Hours of Booty

24 Hours of Booty President Spencer Lueders received the “Unsung Hero Award” from Leadership Charlotte. Lueders runs the Official 24-Hour cycling event of the Lance Armstrong Foundation and the only 24-hour road cycling charity event in the country. A graduate of Leadership Charlotte Class XXIX, Lueders accepted the honor at the Legacy Awards held on November 8 in Charlotte. Leadership Charlotte is a community leadership development organization, operates a ten-month program in which participants meet with community leaders, are exposed to major issues impacting the region, and address community needs in a hands-on manner (Leadership Charlotte).

Roy Williams: In Raleigh, Robbi Pickeral notes that University of North Carolina men’s basketball coach Roy Williams took part in a charity event before the Maui Invitational began today. Williams and the head coaches of the seven other schools in the tournament “shot free throws with local youths for charity after Sunday morning’s news conference; the funds went to local schools” (Robbi Pickeral, Raleigh News & Observer, 11/24).

Ohio State’s “Lose the Blue” Clothing Driving; App State Helping Operation Christmas Child

Lose the Blue

WBNS-Ind writes that Ohio State University “is using Beat Michigan Week to gather clothing donations to assist a local agency.” As part of the “Lose the Blue” campaign, “any item of blue clothing turned in at the official OSU team shop … through Thursday evening will entitle the donor to a free Buckeye T-shirt.” The donated clothing will go to Goodwill Columbus (WBNS-Ind, 11/18).

Read the entire article from WBNS

App State: At Appalaichan State, Jonathan Intemann noted that “during the past few weeks, Appalachian State University athletes have been filling empty shoeboxes with small items such as candy and toys, to be sent to children in need all over the world.”

Coaches and players on several teams “have been working to increase student awareness” of Operation Christmas Child. The athletic program has “hopes of contributing 14,000 gift boxes” this year. The effort is “not limited to athletes, as students also have the ability to get involved and donate to the cause.”

Golf coach Bill Dicus: “This is something that we’ve been doing for the past six to eight years. It’s nice to see athletes and students alike devoting their time to such a good cause” (Jonathan Intemann, The Appalachian, 11/18).

Read the entire article from The Appalachian

Photo credit: OhioStateBuckeyes.com

USC’s Mike Garrett Receives Humanitarian Hall’s Tradition of Excellence Award

Mike Garrett

University of Southern California athletic director and 1965 Heisman Trophy winner Mike Garrett was presented with the World Sports Humanitarian Hall of Fame’s 2008 Tradition of Excellence Award yesterday during the school’s football game against the Univ. of Washington.

The award recognizes Heisman winners who bring honor and distinction to the Heisman Memorial Trophy through their professional achievements.

Garrett has a long history of community service. As a student at Southern Cal, Garrett helped found the Cool Head Program, working with area youth groups. He has also volunteered at the McLaren Children’s Center in Los Angeles and in San Diego, he worked in the district attorney’s office as a youth counselor. In 1989, he established the East Los Angeles Youth Activities Foundation.

For his professional and community work, the College Football Hall of Fame member has received numerous awards including recognition in 2003 as one of “Southern California’s 25 Most Influential Executives in Sports” by the Los Angeles Business Journal and one of the nation’s “101 Most Influential Minorities in Sports” by Sports Illustrated. In 2005, he was named one of the “50 Most Powerful African Americans in Sports” by Black Enterprise magazine (World Sports Humanitarian Hall of Fame).

Photo credit: World Sports Humanitarian Hall of Fame

National PSA Part of Big 12 Conference’s Support of Special Olympics

Big 12 Conference Special Olympics PSA (0:32)

The Big 12 Conference is currently running a PSA nationally touting its association with the Special Olympics. The Big 12 recently announced plans to enhance its partnership with the Special Olympics organizations in each of the seven conference member states. The partnership currently includes:

  • Sports clinics for Special Olympics athletes and coaches in conjunction with various Big 12 Championships
  • Sport demonstrations during Big 12 events
  • Public service announcements
  • Inclusion in various Big 12 publications and an active interaction with the institutions’ Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC)

In the coming years, the conference will focus on providing additional activities, events and exposure opportunities. The league will focus on building a stronger relationship between Special Olympics and the SAAC with internship opportunities for Big 12 student-athletes at the various Special Olympics state offices (Big 12 Conference).

Timeless Message: Fighting Irish Coach Ara Parseghian’s NBC Sports Halftime Feature

Ara Parseghian’s 2004 NBC Sports Interview (6:31)

New on YouTube: During haltime of a 2004 football game between Notre Dame and Boston College, NBC Sports aired an interview with legendary Notre Dame coach Ara Parseghian, who led the Fighting Irish to two national championships. The interview centered around Parseghian’s family and his grandchildren who are afflicted with Niemann-Pick Type C disease. Parseghian also discussed the goal of the Ara Parseghian Medical Research Foundation to find a treament for this rare, genetic disease (NBC).

SMU Honoring LeVias; Oakland Raises Money at Gate; Stockton Youth League

In Texas, Bobbi Roquemore reports that “one of the highlights from the Mustang Legends for Charities event Saturday night” was SMU coach June Jones’ announcement that the team “will honor Jerry LeVias by having a selected player wear his No. 23 jersey.” LeVias, who attended SMU from 1966-1968, “was the first black player to earn a football scholarship” in the Southwest Conference.

LeVias said that he “had no idea of Jones’ intentions to honor him in that fashion,” but “believes the time is right for ‘his story’ to be told” (Dallas Morning News, 8/25).

Good Sports: Oakland University used its home game against Michigan State this weekend “as a fundraiser for leukemia patient Adalin Farnum, the 6-year-old daughter of MSU associate head coach Tammy Farnum.” In lieu of admissions, Oakland “accepted donations at the gate, along with a silent auction, and raised $4,477 for the family” (Detroit Free Press, 8/23).

Police Work: In California, KXTV’s Jason Koberly reported that San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Raiders legends, including Bubba Paris of the 49ers and Ben Davidson of the Raiders, participated the Stockton Police Youth Activity League’s eighth annual fundraising basketball game yesterday at Delta College in Stockton, Calif. The Oakland Raiderettes were also on hand to entertain the crowd.

Stockton Police Detective Joe Silva said that “proceeds from the event go to support SPYA efforts to bring sports and group activities” to Stockton youth. Programs supported by the charity event include “the Junior Giants baseball program, youth boxing program, and the Stockton Police Junior Cadet Program” (News10.net, 8/24).

Florida Gators Team Uses Annual Strongman Competition to Support Charities

In Gainesville, Jill Shatzen reported that the inaugural UF Football Charity Challenge last night raised $6,000 for six charities — all of which have ties” to Shands at the University of Florida.

The Gators’ football team, “which usually holds a strongman competition toward the end of every summer, chose to open this year’s competition to the public for the first time and raise money for a good cause at the same time.”

Shatzen added that “the crowd of about 1,800 consisted mostly of families with children, and many couldn’t decide which was a bigger draw — the charities or the players.”

The charities represented included the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society, the Children’s Miracle Network, the American Diabetes Association and the March of Dimes.

Angie Lindsey, who represented the Komen Foundation, said that the event “was especially exciting for those involved in her organization.” Lindsey: “This is something that is different and it’s cool. It helps us reach a different audience than we normally get to reach” (Gainesville Sun, 7/26).