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Whiffing, Fast and Slow

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 06/11/2021 - 2:56am in

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Sports


Something rekindled; baseball seemed all of a sudden a dramatic sport, filled with intellectual intrigue: the chess-like plots of the pitcher-batter duels, the way individual specializations harmonized with collective effort. I became the wearer of a White Sox hat, the austere black and white a sort of neighborhood camouflage, and then also an Astros hat, a commemoration of my years lived in Houston, the US’s most interesting and comfortless city. There was no better way to close out my day than by traveling to the Reddit thread with all the baseball streams. Or so it seemed until I watched Craig Kimbrel pitch and grew worried that what everyone else thought might in fact be true.

Bear Fight in Chicago

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 09/10/2021 - 1:16am in

Photo Credit: cheddar- / Flickr.com Football season is well and truly underway, and so, apparently, is football stadium subsidy season....

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Surfing Beyond Life’s Scars in Liberia

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 07/10/2021 - 7:00pm in

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culture, Sports

Photos by Dounard Bondo

On a dull May afternoon in Robertsport, Oscar Commeh readies himself to compete against the best wave riders from around Liberia in the country’s national surfing championship. For most of the surfers, the conditions prove to be rather unfortunate — the big waves aren’t swelling, rain is in the forecast — but not for Oscar. All day long, the waves have been breaking his way.

Emerging from the ocean in a red swimsuit with a banana-yellow surfboard under his arm, Oscar is confident that he has performed well. “I went in [other] contests and lost several times,” he says, “but in this contest, I would get it.”

liberia surfingOscar Commeh

Robertsport, a small fishing town in western Liberia, is about 10 miles from the Sierra Leone border and 50 miles northwest of Monrovia, the capital city. It also happens to be home to some of the world’s best waves, and has become an African surfing mecca. What used to be a beachfront getaway for wealthy Europeans is now a place where over a hundred native Liberian surfers find solace from a chaotic past. 

Between 1989 and 2003, two civil wars devastated Liberia. With over 200,000 lives claimed, they were among the bloodiest conflicts Africa had ever seen. Rape, torture and other atrocities fractured and traumatized the citizenry, among which a million people were displaced and forced into refugee camps in neighboring countries.

Even though Oscar was only a kid during the latter part of the war, he is still haunted by memories of brutalized bodies laying in the street and a forced migration into the wilderness.  

“We were sleeping in the night,” he remembers. “[Frances Turay, then-mayor of Robertsport] came and said, ‘Hey, we are not sleeping in this house, we are going to the mountain to sleep.’” 

liberia surfingWhat used to be a beachfront getaway for wealthy Europeans is now a place where over a hundred native Liberian surfers find solace from a chaotic past. Credit: Dounard Bondo

His family packed what they could and fled up the mountainside, from which Oscar “could see the soldiers entering our house. It was [unreal].” From time to time, he and his family would still come down to Robertsport to fish. But eventually his father put them in a canoe and they crossed into Sierra Leone, where they subsisted as fisherfolk until returning after the conflict ended. 

A decade later, the ebola outbreak would deal Robertsport another blow, decimating the tourism economy. “Everything stopped,” says Oscar. “Most of the tourists stopped coming because everyone is afraid… I was on a scholarship, and when the [tourists] left I lost it.”

According to the 2018 Household Income and Expenditure Survey, more than half of Liberians live below the national poverty line, and 68 percent of the country’s poor live in rural areas where the poverty rate is over 70 percent. Sexual and gender-based violence are rife. “There is plenty of this violence,” says Esther Teah, a 26 year old surfer. “Every day we get announcements on the radio against rape and SGBV [sex and gender-based violence].”

liberia surfing“Every time I am on the wave it takes me [away] from trouble and danger,” says Butterfly. “It frees my mind.”

Esther sometimes sees these power dynamics play out in the ocean itself. “The guys don’t want to give us a chance. Any wave we want to ride, they would get in the wave,” she says. “They behave like they own the water.” To help level the playing field, she’s teaching other young girls to surf. She sees the sport not only as an escape from Liberia’s troubled past, but as a mechanism to improve young lives in the present. “When we are in the water, what are we going to do on the streets?” she asks, adding that surfing is what keeps many young people out of a life of crime. “In the morning, some go to school and return by 2 p.m. After school you eat and get in the water, you don’t leave till six, so you wouldn’t be on the street.”

“A lot of kids seem to surf as an outlet to take their mind off the struggle of life,” says Kent Bubbs Jr., a Canadian who arrived in Liberia 14 years ago and is now the executive director of operations for Universal Outreach, the NGO that organized the Liberian National Surf Competition in May. “They also use it to create community… so kids have somewhere to go and a community they feel a part of.”

liberia surfingRobertsport retains its appeal as a tourist destination and Universal Outreach is working to capitalize on this, awarding three surfers scholarships to a tourism and hospitality institute in Monrovia.

The rigors of surfing in and of itself are enough to keep kids away from violence, says Oscar. “When you are done, you go home, find food to eat, and go and rest.”

Keeping children from a life of violence strikes a particular chord in Liberia, where the child soldier, wearing camouflage and holding an assault weapon, was long an emblem of the conflicts.  

Rape was also commonplace during the war, and it left such a lasting stain on the country that last year it was declared a national emergency by President George Weah. Esther and 25-year-old Irene George, better known as Butterfly, believe teaching girls to surf empowers and frees them from the oppression of being a woman in rural Liberia. 

“I feel excited, every time I am on the wave it takes me [away] from trouble and danger,” says Butterfly. “Whenever I am in the waves and I am feeling stressed up, it frees my mind.” 

Money remains an issue. Most of the surfers can barely afford to buy equipment, and  grants from tourists only go so far. James Brown, a 14 year old who started surfing when he was six, says advances from his father’s fishing are unable to pay for both his education and hobby. What little money he can get he uses to pay other surfers to borrow their equipment. “When my dad goes fishing, he gives me money. I give [the other surfers] the money to use their boards,” he says.

surfers liberiaJames Brown uses what little money he can scrape together to pay other surfers to borrow their equipment.

About a year ago, in an acknowledgment of the sport’s positive impact on Liberian youth, the government gifted the surfers a plot of land to build a surf club. Universal Outreach, alongside a few other NGOs, has helped the Grand Cape Mount County Surf Club Association, which represents the surfers, raise over $8,700 to build the club, with a water tower and multipurpose building among the structures already completed.

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In spite of its past troubles, Robertsport retains its appeal as a tourist destination and Universal Outreach is working to capitalize on this, awarding three Robertsport surfers, including Butterfly, scholarships to a tourism and hospitality institute in Monrovia.

Oscar, who emerged first in the men’s senior category in May’s national championship, wants to become a surfing instructor and a journalist. And Bubbs is trying to lure the International Surf Association to visit and certify some of the surfers as professional instructors, while exploring the possibilities of having a representative at the 2024 Olympics in Paris. For now, the sport remains an escape for a scarred generation.

“I don’t know how to describe it,” says Esther. “Especially when the wave is long, I don’t want it to end. If I am in the water, I don’t even like to come onshore.”

The post Surfing Beyond Life’s Scars in Liberia appeared first on Reasons to be Cheerful.

Building an Athletics-to-Med-School Pipeline for Black Men

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 28/09/2021 - 6:00pm in

Aaron Bolds didn’t consider becoming a physician until he tore a ligament in his knee while playing in a basketball tournament when he was 15. His orthopedic surgeon was Black, and they hit it off. “He was asking me how my grades were, and I told him, ‘I’m a straight-A student,’ and he was, like, ‘Man, this is a great fallback plan if basketball doesn’t work out,’” recalls Bolds, who is African American.

“He looked like me,” Bolds says, “and that was even more encouraging.”

If not for that chance encounter, Bolds, 34, a doctor at Mount Sinai Health System in New York, might never have gone into medicine, he says. When he was growing up, there were no physicians in his family or extended social network to model that career path. And at the schools he attended, he says, his aptitude for science didn’t trigger the kind of guidance young people often receive in more privileged contexts.

What Bolds did get attention for was his athletic ability. He got a full basketball scholarship to Lenoir-Rhyne University in North Carolina, where his team won a conference championship. But when he transferred to Bowie State University in Maryland, where he also played basketball, an academic adviser discouraged his pre-med ambitions, Bolds recalls, saying his grades were low and he lacked research experience.

Bolds is not alone in finding in athletics a fraught lever of educational opportunity. Whereas Black players comprise more than half the football and basketball teams at the 65 universities in the top five athletic conferences, and bring in millions of dollars for their schools year after year, the graduation rates for Black male college athletes are significantly lower — 55 percent as compared to 69 percent for college athletes overall — according to a 2018 report from the USC Race and Equity Center. Many Black college athletes end up without either a professional sports contract or a clear career path.

Now some educators and advocates are looking to reverse this trend by connecting sports, an area in which African American men are overrepresented, and medicine, where the opposite is true. As of 2018, 13 percent of the U.S. population, but just five percent of doctors — according to the Association of American Medical Colleges — identified as Black or African American. (The AAMC data notes that an additional one percent of doctors identified as multiracial.) Decades of efforts to increase diversity at medical schools have made progress with other demographics, including Black women — but barely any with Black men. “No other demographic group is broken down with such a large split between men and women,” says Jo Wiederhorn, president and CEO of the Associated Medical Schools of New York. “And none of them have stayed stagnant, like that group has.”

According to data the AAMC provided to Undark, the proportion of Black men enrolling in medical school hasn’t changed much since 1978 — with only some headway being made in the past few years.

The absence of Black male medical professionals ripples across the health system, experts say, contributing to widespread health disparities. African Americans tend to be diagnosed later than white people with everything from cancer to kidney disease, leading to more advanced disease and earlier deaths. Meanwhile, a recent study suggests that Black men who see Black male doctors may be more likely to follow medical advice. Other research also suggests that racially concordant care, in which patients and doctors have a shared identity, is associated with better communication and a greater likelihood to use health services.

“We are in a crisis point, nationally,” says Reginald Miller, the dean for research operations and infrastructure at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. “I don’t think it’s a stretch to suggest that the health of communities of color are directly proportional to the number of practitioners available to see,” he says. “It’s just that straightforward.”

Last year, the National Medical Association, a professional organization representing African American physicians, embarked with the AAMC on a joint effort to address the structural barriers to advancement for Black men. “We need to look at this with a unique lens,” says Norma Poll-Hunter, senior director of workforce diversity at the AAMC.

Bolds began to apply an athletic mindset to his pre-med classes, and his grades improved. “I would get to the library before anybody.” Credit: Jeenah Moon for Undark

There is no single solution to such an entrenched and multifaceted problem, Poll-Hunter says. According to her, some medical schools have adopted a holistic admissions process that evaluates many personal factors rather than relying on standardized test scores, which can exclude promising Black candidates. In addition, she says, students of color need better access to high-quality K-12 science education, particularly in under-resourced public schools. “There are a lot of barriers that exist early on,” she notes, “and that then creates this narrowing of the pathway to medicine.”

But the novel strategy of wooing athletes is slowly gaining traction. Advocates point out that high-performing athletes possess many of the skills and attributes that doctors, psychologists, physical therapists, and other medical professionals need — things like focus, a commitment to excellence, time management, and problem-solving skills, as well as the ability to take constructive criticism and perform under pressure.

“When you say, ‘What’s your ideal medical student?’ it’s not just a kid who’s academically gifted. It’s a kid who’s got resilience, attention to detail, knows how to work on the team,” Miller says. “Because science and medicine are team sports.” And by virtue of being athletes, these young men are already attuned to nutrition, fitness, and other aspects of human biology.

Two former NFL players, Nate Hughes and Myron Rolle, recently became physicians. And there is evidence that competitive sports experience contributes to medical success. A 2012 study of doctors training to become ear, nose, and throat specialists at Washington University, for example, found that having excelled in a team sport was more predictive of how faculty rated their quality as a clinician than strong letters of recommendation or having attended a highly-ranked medical school. Likewise, a 2011 study found that having an elite skill, such as high-achieving athletics, was more predictive of completing a general surgery residency than medical school grades.

Advocates of the athletics-to-medicine pipeline point out its practicality. Thousands of Black men are already in college, or headed there, on athletic scholarships. It would only take a small percentage of them choosing medical careers to boost the percentage of Black male doctors to better reflect the proportion of African American men in the general population, they say.

No one thinks it will be easy. One obstacle, advocates say, is a lack of role models. Black sports celebrities are household names, but some young athletes may never encounter a Black medical professional. “People don’t believe they can become what they don’t see,” says Mark R. Brown, the athletic director at Pace University.

And for the best chance of success, many say, these young men need to form and pursue medical aspirations as young as possible, along with their athletic training. “Those kids who are able to do both, the rewards at the end are enormous,” Miller says. But the adults in their lives may not believe the dual path is possible. “The second that a kid says to a science teacher or someone else that he’s an athlete,” Miller says, “they go into a different category. ‘They’re not really serious about science and medicine, they’re just here, and so I don’t expect this kid to really achieve.’”

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Rigid course and practice schedules also make it challenging for busy athletes to undertake demanding and time-intensive science majors, observers say. What’s needed is “a cultural change, and not just a cultural change with the athletes. It’s a cultural change with the whole structure,” Miller says. “Everybody’s excited about the idea” of the physician athlete, he adds, “because it makes sense. But when the rubber hits the road, it is challenging.”

Donovan Roy, the assistant dean for diversity and inclusiveness at the Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine, was one of the first people to envision the potential of directing Black athletes toward medical careers.

Roy, 48, who is Black and a former college football player, grew up in the working class, primarily Black and Latino community of Inglewood, California. Attending an elite private high school on a football scholarship was eye-opening. He vividly remembers the first time he ever saw a walk-in pantry, at a friend’s home. “It was stocked like a convenience store,” he recalls. “Five different types of Hostess, Ding-Dongs, sodas, every type of snack that you ever wanted.” Equally startling was speaking with another friend’s mother, who was a lawyer. “I’d never seen a road map to success in my community,” he says.

Roy’s athletic talent continued to open doors — at 18 he got a scholarship to the University of Southern California — but poorly prepared by the under-resourced public schools he had attended through ninth grade, he struggled academically, and left both USC and later another university that he also attended on an athletic scholarship.

Eventually Roy found his footing, and when he did, he became a learning specialist. After working through his own academic struggles, he wanted to help others with theirs. Roy took a job as a learning skills counselor at UCLA’s medical school. There he helped the students who were struggling with classes like anatomy and genetics. In early 2015, he returned to USC as the director of academic support services at Keck School of Medicine.

Something Roy noticed at both these medical schools stuck with him, though it would take a few years for the observation to crystallize. A certain kind of student sought help despite, by ordinary standards, not needing it. These were the athletes, and many of them were Black or Latino. “They always talked about, ‘How can I excel? How can I get better?’” he recalls. They “were getting 90s and they wanted to be 100.”

Roy began a doctoral program in education in 2015, the same year the AAMC published a damning report about the lack of Black men entering medical school. This was a crisis Roy understood both personally and professionally. For his dissertation, he decided to interview 16 Black male students at Keck School of Medicine. What was it about them, he wanted to understand, that had gotten them there against all odds?

The answer, he discovered, was what academics call social capital. For medical students from privileged backgrounds, social capital might take the form of a family friend who arranges a summer internship at a biotechnology lab, or a well-funded high school that offers advanced placement science classes. The young men Roy interviewed did not, for the most part, have access to those sorts of resources.

In his residency, Bolds is focusing on rehabilitation medicine, and is pictured here working at Mount Sinai’s sports medicine clinic. Credit: Jeenah Moon for Undark

“Growing up, I didn’t see a Black male with a college degree until I got to college,” medical student Jai Kemp said in a separate interview Roy conducted for a documentary he’s making on the topic. The social capital these young men leveraged to get to medical school took the form of parental support, science enrichment programs and clubs, peer social networks, faculty mentors — and the perks that come with athletics. “For me it was just sports that got me through,” Kemp said.

The pieces started to fit together. Roy knew from his own experience all the benefits athletes get, not just entrée to educational institutions, but travel, enrichment, and academic advantages like tutoring and early class registration. Athletes also tend to possess social cachet on campus and, with more exposure to different types of people, may feel comfortable in environments that seem foreign and forbidding to other young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. Roy also recalled the drive for academic excellence he had observed in the athletes who came to his tutoring programs. “I got this epiphany,” he says. “Why don’t we look at student athletes in order to increase Black males’ representation in medicine, because they have the most social capital and the most network on predominantly white campuses.”

But when Roy began talking to his medical school colleagues about recruiting athletes, who according to a report from the Center for American Progress — a liberal think tank — make up 16 percent of Black male college students receiving athletic aid in the Big 12 athletic conference, he says most weren’t receptive to the idea. The same thing happened when he got up the nerve to make the suggestion publicly at a 2018 conference in Orlando, Florida. The idea ran against type. “I think people tend to lump athletes into this box,” he says. “They just think that athletes are big meatheads.”

Roy knew this truth viscerally, because with his offensive lineman’s build of 6-feet-6-inches and 300-plus pounds, he sticks out in academic settings. “People stare,” he says. “They do not expect me to be in the role that I am in.”

What Roy didn’t know was that the idea was percolating elsewhere, including at the National Collegiate Athletic Association. Brian Hainline, the NCAA’s chief medical officer, says he and Poll-Hunter of the AAMC are in talks with several universities about launching a pilot program to support African American athletes interested in medical careers.

Meanwhile, in 2018 Miller founded the organization Scholar-Athletes with Academic Goals (a.k.a. SWAG, a name he hopes will resonate with young people). The initiative connects promising athletes with a range of available programs to help them pursue and succeed in science and medicine. Recently, Miller worked closely with leadership at Pace University to create a program, expected to launch next year, to support Black college athletes interested in attending medical school. Pace officials want the initiative to become a magnet for out-of-state athletes and a model for other schools. “My hope is that two years from now, colleges and universities will call” and ask, “Wow, how did you do this?” says athletic director Brown. “Once we have some success, and proof of concept, then I think it can really grow.”

Bolds graduated medical school in 2018 and is now doing his residency at Mount Sinai. His focus is rehabilitation medicine, and he plans to tend to injured athletes and serve as a team physician. He got a business degree while in medical school, and his long-term goal is to open his own interventional spine and sports medicine practice specializing in preventing and rehabilitating injuries in both athletes and non-athletes, as well as helping serious players enhance their performance.

Donovan Roy at the Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine, where he is now the assistant dean for diversity and inclusiveness. Credit: Mark Bugnaski for Undark

But there were tough moments along the way, such as the encounter with that academic adviser, which Bolds says only served to motivate him. At the time, he thought, “Wow, this person doesn’t believe in me. So let me make them a believer,” he recalls. “That was, moving forward, really a turning point for me, honestly. Because I knew that people aren’t going to believe in you unless you give them a reason to.”

Bolds began to apply an athletic mindset to his pre-med classes. “That same grind of having to get up, 5 a.m., get to the gym, get shots up before anybody gets there, to put in that extra time — I was doing that with my studies,” he says. “I would get to the library before anybody.” Once Bolds turned his grades around, professors began to notice and help him, he says. Still, he says, his score on the MCAT, an entrance exam required by nearly all U.S. medical schools, was borderline. Instead of giving up, he attended multiple events at Howard University’s medical school, where he met people who advocated for him. It was the only medical school he got into.

Whereas Bolds had to bushwhack, he saw other Black students fall off the medical path — and his fellow Black teammates avoided it entirely. Many athletes find themselves enmeshed in a profit-making system that may not prioritize their education. The NCAA has been criticized in recent years for its long-standing policy which prohibits profit-sharing with college athletes — a policy that was only recently reversed under interim guidelines. Others have said that Black labor has been especially exploited.

As of 2014 reports, fewer than two percent of athletes in the NCAA will go on to play professionally. But for self-serving reasons, critics say, (Clemson University’s football team, for example, made $77 million in average annual revenue from 2015 through 2017) universities often direct athletes to “academic paths of least resistance.” Many schools practice “major clustering,” in which players are steered to the same relatively undemanding major, such as communications, so they can devote themselves almost entirely to their sport. Major clustering is more pronounced among athletes of color, according to a 2009 study of football teams at 11 universities. At six of those schools, the study found, over three-quarters of the non-White football players were enrolled in just two academic majors, although dozens of majors were offered.

Sheron Mark, an associate professor of science education at the University of Louisville, co-authored a 2019 case study of two young Black men who arrived at college on basketball scholarships, with the intent to pursue respective careers in computer science and engineering. But both found it difficult to balance academics with athletics because of pressure and blandishments from coaches and faculty advisers.

“For so long, they’ve been sold this message that you don’t have many choices, that banking on a professional sports career is one of very few options for you if you want to advance your station in life,” says Mark of many Black athletes. It’s important to have a plan B, she says, since “the odds just aren’t in their favor.” But coaches can discourage academically demanding majors because they may cut into practice time, and college athletes are not always capable of pushing back, she says, because their financial packages are tied to fulfillment of their team responsibilities.

Many Black college athletes are already strong candidates for medical school, advocates say, but others may need extra academic support to compensate for deficits acquired at under-resourced K-12 schools. They may also need post-graduation training to take science classes they did not have time for while working long hours as athletes — with some working 20-plus hours a week. “How are they being mentored and guided and protected in planning for their futures?” Mark asks. “They are high achieving in sports, they want to be high achieving in academics. Why don’t we support them?” When people wonder whether student-athletes can cut it in science and medicine, Mark’s response is: “It’s on us. It’s on us to help them do so. That’s how we can grow their representation.”

When Bolds was 15, his surgeon suggested that he consider becoming a physician as a fallback plan to basketball. Without that encounter, Bolds says he may never have gone into medicine. Credit: Jeenah Moon for Undark

That’s what Pace University intends to do. The school already nurtures academic success in its athletes, who collectively had a B+ average last school year, but premedical studies have never been a great fit, in part because afternoon practices can conflict with long lab classes, says athletic director Brown. As part of the school’s new initiative, Pace science departments have pledged to offer flexibility in course section offerings in order to accommodate football commitments. Athletes of color from any sport will be welcome, but football was prioritized because it is the largest and one of the most diverse teams and has the most complicated schedule, Brown says.

The school also plans to adjust its advising, tutoring, and library services to ensure that pre-med athletes won’t falter when they struggle with personal issues or tough classes like organic chemistry. “Rather than saying, ‘Oh, chemistry, nobody likes chemistry, you’re right, you should just drop that,’ instead now it’s going to be, ‘Yeah, you’ve got to buckle down. And here’s how we’re going to do it,’” says Hillary Knepper, the university’s associate provost for student success.

Meanwhile, Brown will be directing his coaches to actively recruit Black and Latino high school athletes who are interested in medicine. In the past, Brown says, his coaches were less likely to select such students because of anticipated scheduling challenges. But now Pace is trying to establish a partnership through which a nearby medical school would give preferred consideration to pre-med athletes who have completed the Pace curriculum. “With our new approach, you’re not only going to have the ability to do it,” he says, “but you’re going to have a support system, to make sure that you follow the path.”

Some advocates for the athlete-to-doctor paradigm see this work as part of the larger movement for social justice. “Look what Jackie Robinson did, right? Look at Muhammad Ali, look at Colin Kaepernick,” Roy says. “Athletics has always been the vehicle for social change.”

Medical professionals can influence public policy, accumulate wealth, and help empower others in their orbit. “The impacts ramp up really quickly, from just that individual benefiting,” Mark says, to “your family, your neighborhood, your social network, and society — people you won’t even meet, and across generations.”

Studies suggest that African American doctors are more likely to choose to work in underserved communities. They also may be more attuned to, and motivated to combat, the disparities in health care. A study published last year, for example, suggests that Black newborns are half as likely to die when they are cared for by a Black physician.

Bolds is keenly aware of the health disparities for Black communities, and he jumps at opportunities to mentor other young Black men, to show them that they, too, can become doctors. “It seems like there’s so many steps that just are never-ending,” he says. But, he adds, to see someone “that you can connect with that’s at that finish line or has already passed that finish line — I think that’s very key to their success.”

One of the people Bolds has connected with is Darius Ervin, a talented Black basketball player from Crown Heights, Brooklyn, who is now a sophomore at Cornell University. The two met when Ervin attended a virtual event late last year, sponsored by SWAG, at which Bolds spoke. Afterwards, the two chatted, and Bolds now checks in periodically with Ervin, who says he appreciates the encouragement. “Those are people that have once laced up shoes and got on the court and played just like how I did, and now they’re in the hospital helping people,” he says. “Being able to speak to those people gives me the visual, allows me to see that it’s an opportunity and it’s definitely possible for me to do.”

This story originally appeared in Undark. It is part of the SoJo Exchange from the Solutions Journalism Network, a nonprofit organization dedicated to rigorous reporting about responses to social problems.

The post Building an Athletics-to-Med-School Pipeline for Black Men appeared first on Reasons to be Cheerful.

[Joshua Vs Usyk LIVE] How To Stream Anthony Joshua vs Oleksandr Usyk live Mega Fight online Streams On Reddit +

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 26/09/2021 - 3:35am in

Tags 

Music, Sports

Unified world heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua collides with undefeated Ukrainian Oleksandr Usyk, the WBO mandatory challenger, at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Saturday, live on Sky Sports Box Office. Joshua has had to find a new opponent and is now preparing to take on dangerous WBO mandatory challenger Usyk.‘The Cat’ is unbeaten in his 18 professional bouts to date and saw off Derek Chisora last October.

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The Ukrainan will pose a hugely tough test for Joshua who must win to keep his hopes of claiming all the heavyweight belts alive.

Here’s everything you need know about the blockbuster fight…

Joshua v Usyk: Date and time

This 12-round heavyweight title fight will take place at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium this weekend on Saturday, September 25.

Joshua was set to face Kubrat Pulev at Tottenham’s new ground last June but that fight had to be switched to the Wembley Arena in December due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Promoter Eddie Hearn has confirmed that the main event ring walks will be earlier than normal and are set for 10pm.

The clash will be for Joshua’s WBA (Super), IBF, WBO, and IBO heavyweight titles.

It will be shown on Sky Sports Box Office. Their pay-per-view coverage will start from 6pm and will cost £24.95.

BETTING SPECIAL – GET ANTHONY JOSHUA AT 25/1 TO BEAT OLEKSANDR USYK OR 60-1 TO WIN IN ROUNDS 1-6

AJ will be fighting Usyk in front of over 60,000 at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium

Mark Robinson Matchroom Boxing 9 AJ will be fighting Usyk in front of over 60,000 at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium

Joshua looks to be in excellent condition for this bout

Matchroom

9 Joshua looks to be in excellent condition for this bout

Joshua v Usyk: Undercard

Lawrence Okolie will defend his WBO cruiserweight title against mandatory challenger Dilan Prasovic on the undercard to Joshua v Usyk.

Also on the show, former WBA super-middleweight champion Callum Smith will make his light-heavyweight debut against Lenin Castillo.

The Brit was dethroned of his belt by Canelo Alvarez in December and so has now moved up in weight to try and become a two-division champion.

Ricky Hatton’s son Campbell Hatton will have his fourth pro fight against Sonni Martinez in a super-featherweight clash on the card.

Florian Marku vs Maxim Prodan at welterweight and Christopher Ousley vs Khasan Baysangurov at middleweight will feature as well.

It’s Triller Night, Marv!

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 19/09/2021 - 12:45am in

Tags 

Sports


Triller’s Ryan Kavanaugh takes the mic and congratulates Belfort on showing the world that MMA and boxing can be equal. 40 and 50 are the new 20 and 30, “That’s the way this world works,” which, sure, we live in a gerontocracy. Fittingly, then, Trump ends things, mic in hand, finally addressing the crowd. The queeny carnival barker is back, somewhat, spinning less shit-colored shit out of shit.

Fresh audio product

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 17/09/2021 - 5:38am in

Just added to my radio archive (click on date for link):

September 16, 2021 Dave Zirin, author of The Kaepernick Effect, on how taking a knee spread across the country (and why leftists shouldn’t hate sports) • Dwayne Monroe, cloud data architect and author of this piece, disassembles the hype around artificial intelligence

Meet the World’s First Carbon-Neutral Soccer Club

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 14/09/2021 - 6:00pm in

The initial reaction among soccer fans to the vegan menu at the stadium food stand was outrage. “Some said they wouldn’t eat anything,” club chairman Dale Vince, 59, remembers with a laugh. 

Instead of hot dogs and cheeseburgers, attendees of Forest Green Rovers games in Gloucestershire, UK, found themselves confronted with a meatless menu of shiitake burgers, katsu pickled vegetables and vegan Q-pie. “It’s a bit unusual,” the trim entrepreneur admits, “but I say, you only come to games once every two weeks, you might as well try something you haven’t tried before.” 

The Forest Green Rovers are an anomaly in the world of European football, a sport not typically known for its progressive bona fides. Though its moniker was actually inspired by the neighborhood of its origin — a tiny village in Gloucestershire — the club, founded in 1889, could hardly have been more aptly named. FIFA, soccer’s international governing body, recently recognized the Forest Green Rovers as the greenest soccer club in the world. The United Nations has certified the FGR as the world’s first carbon-neutral football club. It is also the first and only vegan pro soccer club on the planet. 

“Every day we all make decisions about how we power our homes, how we travel, what we eat and how we choose to spend our money,” says Vince. “If we go in a different direction, we can get a different outcome.”

Algae and oat milk

FGR’s stadium, “The New Lawn,” is powered with 100 percent renewable energy from the solar panels on its roof and windmills on a nearby hill. A solar-powered robot mows the lawn. The field itself is managed entirely without artificial fertilizer — the groundskeeper sprinkles Scottish sea algae and rips out weeds by hand, making it far greener than your typical pesticide-soaked soccer pitch. 

Photo courtesy of Forest Green Rovers

“Of course, the stereotype is that soccer fans wouldn’t be receptive to this at all, but this made it all the more compelling to me,” says Vince via Zoom from his fortress-like home in Stroud, walking distance from the stadium. “People told me I’d be killing the club, and nobody would come. I thought to myself, that means we’d be taking our message, our work in sustainability, to a new audience, one that’s relatively untouched by this kind of stuff, the world of soccer fans. Soccer gives us a fantastic platform to promote sustainability.”

Vince gets a kick out of discussing his innovations with fans at the stadium, such as the practice of recycling cooking oil from the vegan kitchen into biofuel. He remembers meeting a “crestfallen fan” who couldn’t believe there was no milk to put in his tea. “I explained to him how they take the baby cows away shortly after birth and he was completely shocked. He’d never heard that before. I said, hey, we have oat milk, soy milk, rice milk, try it!” 

It’s not just the fans who forgo meat — a vegan nutrition coach advises the players on building muscles with nut butters and tofu. And though some tabloids gleefully posted paparazzi pictures of players biting into fried chicken in their free time,  many of them have embraced the vegan diet. “I feel way more energy,” FGR midfielder Dan Sweeney says, “and recovery time is faster.” They’re in good company: Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton, U.S. soccer star Alex Morgan and tennis star Venus Williams have all achieved athletic superstardom on plant-based diets. 

“The club was in trouble”

Vince first arrived in Stroud in the 1990s as a new-age hippie living in an old army van. The son of a truck driver, he had dropped out of school at 15. He used a small windmill on top of his van to power his habitat, and liked the area so much that he eventually built a bigger windmill on the hill. Today, his renewable energy company Ecotricity is one of Stroud’s biggest employers with 700 workers. 

 

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Initially, when the Green Rovers were seeking financial help in 2010, “the club was in trouble and needed rescuing.” Vince, a soccer fan, “wanted to help out a local soccer club that was 120 years old and an important part of my community.” But at their first meeting, the long-term vegan was horrified by the amount of meat lasagna served. “That made me part of the meat trade, so I asked them to change it on the spot.” They did. “Then I bumped into all kinds of things I couldn’t tolerate.” Vince set out to change them one by one, “to build a new kind of soccer club.”

Two years ago, the club joined the United Nations’ Climate Neutral Now program, which involves three steps: “Measure our carbon footprint, reduce it as far as we can and offset the residual,” Vince explains. He built the cost for the carbon offset into the ticket price, about $1 per ticket. “It’s a way we get to talk to fans about an issue that might otherwise have gone unnoticed.” About 250 sports organizations around the world have now signed up for the UN program. “They represent every sport that you could possibly name, and there’s an awful lot of momentum there,” Vince says. “Between us, we can reach billions of people.” He believes his club will reach carbon neutrality without offsetting by next year.

 

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A post shared by Forest Green Rovers (@fgrfc_official)

To get there, he established eco-management and audit scheme (EMAS) accreditation, the gold standard of environmental management. He encourages ride-sharing and outfitted the stadium with electric car charging facilities so fans can travel to games sustainably. Even the fizz in the carbonated drinks is funneled directly from the CO2-capturing facility on the stadium roof, a new venture from Vince who also uses the CO2 to make carbon-negative diamonds. “It fits perfectly with our message that living a green life isn’t about giving stuff up. Whether it’s burgers, cars, soccer, or even diamonds, it’s about doing it in a different way.”

The players wear neon green jerseys manufactured from discarded coffee grounds and recycled plastic. “When I learned that most soccer shirts were made from plastic, I was shocked,” he says. “Apart from the sustainability issue, it’s all kinds of wrong to wear plastic to play soccer.” The new shirts “perform much better,” he has found, and this is a point he stresses repeatedly about becoming the vanguard of eco-consciousness in sports. “Our food has to taste better, and our field has to be better than your average field,” he says. “When you go green and offer an alternative to the conventional, you have to be better. Otherwise people say, yeah, I get that it’s green, but…” 

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It’s working. The Green Rover’s catering service, the Little Green Devils, has won numerous awards for its vegan pies and is serving 3,000 school meals outside the stadium every day. FIFA and several soccer clubs have sent representatives to learn how they, too, can move their stadiums and kitchens toward carbon neutrality. The next step: the world’s first stadium built entirely from recycled wood, designed by the late award-winning architect Zaha Hadid, which Vince is currently seeking the permits to build.

Even the players have improved. Since switching to vegan food and other climate-friendly routines, the club has started winning and was promoted to League Two in 2017. The number of visitors has quadrupled, the amount of food sold at the stadium has quintupled, and the club now has 100 fan clubs in 20 countries. “In the last year, we had six billion social media impressions,” Vince says. The club has just added a women’s team which will play under the same roof, and Vince hired a woman to lead the club’s Academy.

Vince believes that he not only created a new kind of soccer club, but “a new kind of soccer fan. These people bond with the club because of our stance on the environment.”

His prediction for what comes next? “I think we get to League One this season.”

The post Meet the World’s First Carbon-Neutral Soccer Club appeared first on Reasons to be Cheerful.

The Red Ring and the Wrecking Ball

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 04/08/2021 - 4:53am in


Every two years, when the Olympic institution plants its flag in a new city, speculators from metropolitan Lausanne meet with profiteers in the new athletic colony. They hover over the city map with carving knives, repurposing public spaces and re-zoning residences. Together, for the sake of a two-week event, they take over the territory, line their pockets with public resources, bring in outside workers, and push long-established locals aside.

The Red Ring and the Wrecking Ball

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 04/08/2021 - 4:53am in


Every two years, when the Olympic institution plants its flag in a new city, speculators from metropolitan Lausanne meet with profiteers in the new athletic colony. They hover over the city map with carving knives, repurposing public spaces and re-zoning residences. Together, for the sake of a two-week event, they take over the territory, line their pockets with public resources, bring in outside workers, and push long-established locals aside.

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