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Andrew Ference says NHL must reach beyond ‘middle-aged white dudes’

ESPN

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Andrew Ference believes in hockey.

He played in the NHL for 16 seasons and 907 games, winning a Stanley Cup with the Boston Bruins in 2011. But his impact was less defined by what he accomplished on the ice than what the game allowed him to accomplish away from it: At a time when hockey players shunned activism and accepted an uncomplicated “shut up and skate” attitude, Ference was the antithesis.

His peers used to goof on him for his environmental stances — he heard “tree-hugger” and “hippie” with frequency — like driving an electric car when he wasn’t riding a bike, and being a dedicated composter. But Ference helped the NHL Players’ Association create the Carbon Neutral Challenge, a program that sought to offset the carbon footprint of players traveling to games. He worked for years on the NHL Green initiative that spearheaded a dozen environmentally friendly projects adopted by teams.

He also has been a public face for LGBTQ equality in hockey, including an endorsement of Pride Tape, whose profits support youth outreach initiatives. He marched in Edmonton’s Pride Parade in 2014, becoming the first pro athlete in the city to do so.

He believes in hockey, because he believes the sport can be used as he has used it: as a way to build communities and, via the NHL, as a platform to effect change.

“From the NHL’s point of view, in the last year we put out our declaration of principles that spells out what we know hockey culture to be. It puts it on paper that we are welcoming of all forms of the game, and everybody who loves the game. No matter where you come from, no matter what your sexual orientation is,” Ference said. “It’s great, but those are words. It’s up to us to turn that into action.”

So he has taken action: Ference, who last played in 2015 for the Edmonton Oilers, has joined the NHL as its first director of social impact, growth and fan development. His focus will be on grass-roots growth, community efforts and better facilitating the relationship between players and the league.

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NBA Launches Wide Scale Community Efforts Ahead Of 2018 NBA All-Star Game

Ruling Sports
Alicia Jessop

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Image Source: Ruling Sports

For basketball fans, the NBA All-Star Game means seeing top competitors in the sport go head-to-head in competition. Despite the level of play on the court, though, some of the most impactful moments of the 2018 NBA All-Star weekend will happen off of it.

Over the four days leading up to the 2018 NBA All-Star Game, 3,000 NBA volunteers will engage in community service activities in the Los Angeles area during over 30 outreach programs. The activities are wide reaching, ranging from hospital visits to food packing for the needy, but inclusivity is a central theme of the NBA’s 2018 endeavors.

Highlighted in this year’s community efforts is the NBA’s new platform, NBA Voices. Meant to address social injustice and bridge divides in communities, the platform will be used during All-Star weekend to facilitate conversations between youth, community leaders and law enforcement about challenges their communities face and how to build trust amongst each other. On Thursday, in partnership with Brotherhood Crusade–one of two Los Angeles based nonprofits selected to receive a donation of either $150,000 or $350,000 depending on the outcome of the All-Star Game–players will join in on the conversation on how to spark change and build trust.

Along with conversations, the NBA is using playing basketball as a conduit to facilitate bridge building between communities and law enforcement. In partnership with the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality–founded by Miami Dolphins owner Stephen M. Ross–the NBA and Under Armour will bring members of the Boys & Girls Club of Metro LA together with Los Angeles Police Department officers to play basketball and in turn, learn leadership skills meant to spur candid dialogue as part of the Los Angeles Building Bridges Through Basketball program.

A notable inclusion in the NBA’s community programming during the 2018 NBA All-Star weekend is a focus on opportunities and inclusion for LGBTQ individuals. The Jr. NBA has partnered with Athlete Ally, an organization focused on ending homophobia and transphobia in sport, to host a Coaches Forum. Along with the Positive Coaching Alliance, A Call to Men and the Human Rights Campaign, the organizations will present education to 100 Los Angeles area coaches on how to develop young athletes and character. Main focuses of the program will be teamwork, diversity and inclusion.

A highlight for many fans during NBA All-Star weekend is the NBA Cares Special Olympics Unified Game. On Saturday fans will have the opportunity to watch 12 international Special Olympics athletes compete alongside NBA and WNBA players in a fast-paced engaging game fully involving everyone on the court.

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The House of Green Goes Green

London Knights

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On Saturday, February 10th the Spectra Venue Management team at Budweiser Gardens will launch its first ‘Green’ event when the London Knights face off against the Sudbury Wolves.  “Over the last year, there has been a conscious effort by our team at Budweiser Gardens to evaluate our practices and procedures and look for ways that we can implement environmentally responsible practices.” Said Brian Ohl, General Manager of Budweiser Gardens. “This game will give us a great opportunity to share with the community some of the significant work that has been done and it is our hope that this will become an annual game while also adding additional Green events where possible.”

Spectra Venue Management has teamed up with the London Transit Commission to offer fans coming to the game the opportunity to ride on LTC busses for FREE beginning at 5pm and running through the end of service. Each fan will need to present a valid ticket for that night’s game to gain entry onto the bus. “We are grateful that the LTC has stepped up to work with us on this great initiative and provide the 9.000 plus fans coming for the game the opportunity to ride free of charge and reduce carbon emissions” said Ohl.

Each save that the Knight’s goaltender makes during the game will count beyond just the scoreboard as Spectra and ReForest London will launch the ‘Saves for Trees’ program at the game. For every save that a Knight’s goalie makes during the game a tree will be planted as part of the Million Tree Challenge, a community-wide project with the focus of planting one million more trees for environmental and human health in London, ON. Downtown London, the official game sponsor, has also agreed to match the total and will plant an equal number of trees. Fans at the game are also encouraged to join the Saves for Trees program by sponsoring a tree for $25.00.

The City of London will also be present at the game to promote several initiatives including London’s Clean & Green program which takes place on Earth Day, April 22nd. “The support that we have received from Jay Stanford and his team at the City of London has been tremendous and we look forward to continuing to work with them on many future projects,” said Ohl.

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