ICYMI: Search called off for Sala, Bolt says he’s done and no punishment for Russia

We all experience that feeling that the week can sometimes get away from you. News happens so quickly that it might feel like you don’t have a chance to know what is going on in the world. Each week, GlobalSport Matters will compile some of the best of the other stories in the sporting news.  These stories will include new breakthroughs in sport science, information about changing technology and just good reads about the global sporting community. Have a story you’d like us to know about and share? Let us know.

Search for missing footballer Emiliano Sala called off

After 80 hours of flying time between three planes and five helicopter, two lifeboats searches and over 24 hours of continuous search time, the search for the missing plane carrying Argentine soccer player, Emiliano Sala, has been called off. Police said “the chances survival at this stage are extremely remote.”

Usain Bolt crosses the finish line of his athletic career

After attempting to become a soccer player, the club could not find a way to pay him to play, Usain Bolt announced that his sports career is over and will now focus on commercials and business.

76ers, Nets, Patriots join Meek Mill, Jay-Z in criminal justice reform

The Philadelphia 76ers, Brooklyn Nets and New England Patriots announced that they would be working with each other and rappers Jay-Z and Meek Mill in a battle to take on criminal justice reform. 76ers co-owner Michael Rubin says the group is going to donate $50 million to the effort. The group will be led by CNN host and activist Van Jones who once served under President Barack Obama.

No punishment for Russia over delay on doping data

Russia missed the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) end of the year deadline to hand over 10,000 doping samples of Russian athletes. The samples were finally given; however, it has not yet been determined if the samples were tampered with. Despite Russia’s initial insubordination, the WADA is not punishing the Russian Anti-Doping Agency unless it is later determined the samples are faulty.

Skateboarder suspended for smoking marijuana

Professional skateboarders had previously not been required to submit to drug testing, but that has changed since skateboarding has become an Olympic sport. The United States Anti-Doping Agency announced this week that Cory Juneau tested positive for THC, the primary psychoactive in marijuana, in January 2018. He was issued a six-month suspension. He is the first American skateboarder to be suspended for drug use.

Former U.S. skating champion John Coughlin found dead after suspension

John Coughlin committed suicide recently, after his participation in the sport being restricted by an anti-abuse organization.

Naomi Osaka appears “whitewashed” in ad campaign

Naomi Osaka, who rose to prominence during a match with Serena Williams that ended in Osaka winning the U.S. Open, was recently depicted by a manga artist in a tennis-focused book series with lighter skin than her actual hue, which some have called “whitewashing.” This is an issue for many crosscultural artistic renderings and has put the focus back on Osaka’s heritage and culture rather than the burgeoning young star’s play on the court. Osaka is Japanese-Haitian.

First female softball player character to get Big League Chew bubblegum card

Big League Chew bubblegum has announced that they will release a new package to stores featuring, for the first time ever, a female softball player on the package.

Compiled by the student journalists in the Sports Knowledge Lab at Arizona State University

Skateboarder shredding the idea of traditional public diplomacy

Skateboarder Neftalie Williams
Neftalie Williams believe skateboarding can be used to better the world. (Photo courtesy Neftalie Williams)

When you hear the word skateboarder what image comes to mind?

Do you picture a young man from high school who barely made it to — or through — school: shaggy hair, beanie and, of course, a pair of Vans? Do you picture the youngsters your mom told you not to hang out with or you would get a bad reputation?

Neftalie Williams shatters all the stereotypes and ideas most harbor about skateboarding and skateboarders.

Williams has been in love with the sport since he first stepped on a board in Massachusetts. He loves it so much, he turned it into his life’s passion.

“When I was skateboarding there (Massachusetts), what I found out was from the moment I was on a skateboard I connected with a whole different group of people,” Williams said.

Currently a doctorate degree candidate at the University of Waikato in New Zealand,  Williams uses skateboarding as a tool to help change the world through Skate Diplomacy.

Skate Diplomacy

Skate Diplomacy is the idea that skateboarding can be used to give people — specifically kids — a common ground from which they can build communities and relationships.

Williams believes if you choose an activity kids are already interested in — he calls it a fun factor — you can make it a tool to teach and show them how to be a part of something bigger in the community and globe.

“This is the future,” Williams said. “We are suppose to be engaging kids through the lens they already understand and are excited about.”

Through the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs, Williams had the privilege of leading the first skateboarding version of sports envoy to the Netherlands.

Neftalie Williams helps young skateboarder
Neftalie Williams works with a young skateboarder. (Photo courtesy Neftalie Williams)

Sports envoys are athletes and coaches who travel overseas to lead programs that were developed by U.S. embassies and consulates,” according to the State Department’s website.

According to Williams, the State Department was observing skateboarding taking place globally and took the opportunity to use it in the sports envoy program.

In addition to being proficient in skateboarding, Williams’ background made him well-suited to show the children the importance of public diplomacy.

“I have this huge public diplomacy background. I am not just a sport envoy and only know my sport, but I also understand all the principles of public diplomacy,” Williams said.

As an envoy, Williams taught native Netherland students the importance of public diplomacy. Then, through a turn of events, he had the opportunity to work with Syrian refugees who had resettled in the Netherlands. Williams used skateboarding as a bridge between the two groups.

“(My favorite part of an envoy was) being able to help kids see themselves in a new light and see the young Syrian kids believe that they do belong (there) and by skateboarding they can belong to a global community,” Williams said.

Skate Diplomacy in the United States

While Williams has spread his message of skateboarding diplomacy globally, he is working on making it part of the American culture.

Williams wants kids from different cultures and backgrounds in the United States to see that they are all the same and they belong together.

“What I am really so excited about is taking it back to the everyday lives in the U.S.,” Williams said. “How do all these kids from different backgrounds get involved in skateboarding, like it and grow their own community and reflect and become part of the global community. That’s what we need in the U.S., particularly now.”

Williams, who is also a lecturer at the University of Southern California, teaches students in his class how to use sports such as skateboarding and grow from it. Through skateboarding there are opportunities in business, video, art and so much more, according to Williams.

“I like making sure my students recognize that the everyday things they are excited about (like) skateboarding, video or art have great repercussions and can change the world,” Williams said.

Sophia Briseno is a junior journalism student at Arizona State University

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