Brandon Sneed catches you up with all the good sports stories you haven’t heard about.
There’s absolutely no NCAA basketball broadcaster like Dick Vitale, and he’s been with ESPN since ESPN began. If you don’t know who he is or need a quick refresher, just imagine a hoarse old guy yelling, “That’s awesome, baby!”
Some love Vitale, some can’t stand him, some think he should have retired years ago.
Used to be you could count me in that third category. Seems like a swell fella; it’s just that, when I’d sit down to watch a college basketball game, I didn’t want to hear a yelling old guy and I’d find myself watching games he calls on mute.
That all changed when I read Kansas City Star sportswriter Sam Mellinger’s profile of Vitale. All because of this paragraph, summing up all the charity work Vitale likes to do:
Vitale sees these faces and hears these stories and wonders how in the world could he quit? He sees his own grandchildren in these children, shaken by the knowledge that the only difference is rotten luck.
If he stops doing TV, he loses this platform. If he stops hearing these stories firsthand, he loses the energy to crusade. So, no, he won’t stop now that he’s 72 and probably won’t stop even after the four years on his current ESPN contract run out.
Now I know why he’s doing it. It’s not for attention or to put on an act. I mean, that might be part of it. It’s television, after all, where those who survive are those who can hold longest to the limelight. But the reason Vitale does all he does, the reason he refuses to retire, is about something way, way better than just himself.
Once I read that, I had to get Mellinger for a GoodCall interview. He graciously agreed. And then he said even more inspirational things about the story, the things that couldn’t quite make it in, and how writing about Dick Vitale touched him. You can read the interview in full here.
Other goodness from the week:
Arcade Fire singer Win Butler announced yesterday that there will be a POP vs. Jocks celebrity charity basketball game on Saturday, Sept. 24 as part of the POP Montreal International Music Festival in Montreal. Expected to play is the NBA’s Matt Bonner as well as members of bands like Vampire Weekend.
This comes in the wake of Butler’s Rock the Court charity tournament of two weekends ago, wherein he lost in the finals to Bonner. (He did, however, beat Bonner in the event’s three-point shooting competition. Which may be why Bonner’s team then went up 20-0 to start the championship game.) Video of that tournament is available here.
The POP vs. Jocks game will be played at 4 p.m. at the McGill University Sports Centre. It’ll benefit the DJ Sports Club, a nonprofit charity in Montreal that offers sports and education programs to seven-to-17-year-olds.
One mile into a two-mile Applejack Invite cross-country meet for Andover (Minn.) High’s JV team, Josh Ripley heard a scream. Then he, like most other runners, saw Lakeville South runner Mark Paulauskas on the ground, bleeding.
Unlike every other runner, Ripley stopped. Then he carried Paulaskas a half-mile back to where he could be with coaches and family. Turned out he’d been accidentally spiked by another runner’s shoe.
As Paulaskas was taken to the hospital—where he required 20 stitches and a walking boot to keep the wound closed—Ripley turned around and finished the race. Full story here.
The Tampa Bay Rays and the Rays Baseball Foundation have teamed up with the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association’s Educational Foundation for the annual “Shirts Off Our Backs” promotion, taking place at the Rays ballpark from Sept. 23-28 during the final Rays home games of the regular season. Proceeds will benefit both foundations to support youth and education programs.
For a small donation, fans get scratch-off cards with the opportunity to win prizes, 45,000 of which have been donated by the Rays and FRLA partners. Prizes total $450,000 in value. Donations can be made to the more than 300 volunteers who will be roaming the park over the six-day fundraiser. They’ll be wearing bright blue “Shirts Off Our Back” t-shirts.
Among the prizes are game-worn Rays jerseys, which will be presented to prizewinners on the field by the players and coaches who wear them after the regular season finale on Wednesday, Sept. 28.
So, Ed Norton’s running the ING New York City Marathon this coming Nov. 6, and he recruited 10 runners to run with him on behalf of the Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust. Each runner has committed to raising $6,000. And Norton’s taking them out to eat the night before the race.
Who wouldn’t want to make the world better by simply going to dinner with a famous actor in New York City and then running a marathon with him the next day?
Okay, the marathon part would probably suck for most of us non-masochistic humans. But if you’re one of those types, then this is like, totally making you jealous right now, right?
WASHINGTON — LeBron James on Tuesday received the “Champion of Youth” award from the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
The award was presented to James by actor Denzel Washington, the club’s national spokesman. The award recognizes the relationship that the two-time NBA MVP has had with clubs across the country for the past several years.
On Wednesday, James remained in Washington for more ceremonies and the launch of a new public service advertisement for the clubs called “Great Futures Start Here.”
The spot is directed by Ron Howard and includes about 20 BGCA alumni like James, Shaun White, Shaquille O’Neal, Magic Johnson and Sugar Ray Leonard.
SQUAW VALLEY, CALIF. — There’s a food crisis in Africa, and so naturally, Scottish actor and good-looking redheaded fella Kevin McKidd (Grey’s Anatomy) last weekend ran the 10-mile mud pit/steep cliff/electric shock/barbed-wire-filled NorCal Tough Mudder to raise more than $12,000 for Save the Children’s East Africa efforts.
And he did it in a kilt.
The morning after, he was feeling it. He tweeted:
Morning! Rolling out of bed was tough today! Ribs are painful- breathing makes them hurt and bending down is slow process – but legs are ok!
McKidd trained and then mudded it with fellow actors Shemar Moore, Simon Mirren and the “Stray Dogs” team.
For more about how McKidd did (in a KILT!?) and more about the Tough Mudder, read the full GoodCall article here.
The Seattle Seahawks last week announced a new role in a community campaign known as “A Better Seattle.” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll will team with Microsoft’s Chief Executive Steve Ballmer to raise awareness and money in order to lessen gang violence in the Seattle area.
This will be done largely through a YMCA program in the area known as “Alive & Free, which provides youth with tools to become self-sufficient adults who can be active and helpful members of their communities.
“Pete Carroll has shown incredible leadership on the field and in the community and I am thrilled he is bringing that to create A Better Seattle,” Ballmer said in a recent press release.
For more information, click here.