Tag Archives: sports


LaMarr Woodley Stresses Education at Kids Summer Program


As summer camps and academic summer sessions begin, LaMarr Woodley took some time to advocate the importance of education to a lucky group of local Pittsburgh students enrolled in the Summer Dreamer’s Program. Woodley, an All-Pro linebacker for the Pittsburgh Steelers, stressed the importance of education to hundreds of students on Tuesday morning while reflecting on his own mixed experiences in school.

For all his achievements and tough guy persona as a ferocious tackler, Woodley openly admits to being a little kid stuck in a man’s body, and even getting into trouble in his school years. “I had football and basketball taken away from me because I was class clown and didn’t pay attention to my teachers. I didn’t pay attention to my parents,” Woodley said. “I wasn’t always a nice kid growing up. That’s why I wanted to tell them a little something about my background…I was pretty much saying you can change your way and become something in life.”

The Summer Dreamers Academy, which opened in 2010 by the Pittsburgh Public Schools, is a no cost, premier learning camp to engage students in fun and learning during the summer months. The school is open to all K-8th grade students in the District and last year alone had over 4,000 applicants for 2,300 slots. The camp succeeds on teaching kids math and reading skills in preparation for the fall semester while  having fun in the summertime. Woodley commended the teachers and parents for their commitment to education, “That shows the kind of program they are running here when you have those kinds of energy levels for those kind of teachers early in the morning and the commitment from the parents getting their students here..having an opportunity to have this summer school program is great.”




Brendon Ayanbadejo Leads Charge on Gay Rights in Sports


The National Football League has climbed its way to the forefront of American sports, becoming one of the most visible, popular entities in the nation. It is also undoubtably the most physical, ultra-masculine sport we have in this country, defining the pinnacle of manliness. It is a sport that screams toughness, extreme physical fitness, discipline and order. While these concepts can be positive, they are too often angled towards heterosexuality with bigoted attitudes towards homosexuality. There is seemingly little room in the NFL and other major pro sports for a player to be openly gay. The unwritten rule is gay rights in sports is unacceptable.

Brendon Ayanbadejo is trying to change all that.

Ayanbadejo, the former Baltimore Ravens linebacker, 3-time Pro Bowler and 16-year NFL veteran, made waves in the sports world recently when he stated as many as 4 NFL players  may soon come out as gay. Although he has since backtracked on those comments during an interview with Anderson Cooper on CNN, he remained staunch in his belief to organize and support those players, helping pave the way to changing the homophobic culture of the NFL.

A longtime advocate of gay marriage, Ayanbadejo attributes his inspiration to the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s that allowed his parents, a biracial couple, to legally marry and form his family. Partly for this reason, he views his advocacy is not just for gay rights, but a continued push for equal rights that go beyond the gridiron. Ayanbadejo has also clarified that the players he is in discussions with are not just NFL players, but in other sports as well.

It should be noted that the NFL, NBA, or MLB, three of the most prominent American sports leagues, has never had an openly gay active player. While public sentiment is rumbling towards acceptance of the LGBT community in many aspects of society,  there is still plenty of resistance and anti-gay sentiment embedded in our sports culture. For one or more professional athletes to come out as an active player, it wouldn’t just be a monumental day for those individuals, it would be a landmark moment in American history.

The historical significance and the pressure that comes with it is perhaps what is most admirable about Brendon Ayanbadejo’s leadership. He is the rare athlete that is brave enough to speak to both his beliefs and that of the greater good. An intelligent, articulate and well-spoken person, Ayanbadejo embraces the prospect of being the “face” of a cultural movement. Only time will tell what changes actually occur, but the influence of his seminal dialogue cannot be ignored and demonstrate the  power of an individual to act as a positive agent of change.







Autism Speaks

MLB, NBA Raise Autism Awareness

Autism Speaks

April is Autism Awareness month, and several of the nation’s most popular professional sports leagues are working together with Autism Speaks to bring autism awareness to the public focus. MLB, NBA, even NASCAR are marketing awareness campaigns within their own sporting events and commercial spaces.

MLB will be having each of its 30 teams raise awareness for the disorder during one home game in April or at another point in the regular season. Furthermore, the league will provide special opportunities in a safe, friendly environment for families and individuals affected by autism.

The NBA is raising awareness in a variety of ways. It will also have several teams host Autism Awareness nights during the month of April. On April 2nd, World Autism Awareness Day, Madison Square Garden and the NBA TV Studio were lit blue as part of the Light it Up Blue initiative, where more than 2,000 buildings worldwide were lit blue to raise awareness for the growing disorder. Similar to the pink ribbons used for breast cancer awareness, coaches and announcers on April 1st wore the blue Autism Speaks puzzle lapel pin, and did so again the following night during TNT’s national broadcast of the Dallas Mavericks vs. the Los Angeles Lakers basketball game.

Autism Speaks is the world’s leading autism science and advocacy organization, and has grown tremendously since it’s inception in 2005. Autism, a general term used to describe a group of complex disorders of brain development, affects nearly 1 in 88 American children. It has been far more prevalent with boys (1 in 54) than girls (1 in 252), but still affects over 2 million American children, and tens of millions worldwide. While most cases of autism seem to be related to a combination of autism risk genes and environmental factors influencing early brain development, research is ongoing. That large, high profile sports leagues such as MLB and the NBA team up with Autism Speaks is a responsible initiative to generate fundraising and good visibility on such a important issue.