While the Highlanders were enjoying their summer and time off from school, the sports universe just kept on moving and we saw some great moments for sports along with the rest of the world. Recently, athletes have been using their high profiles to affect change and try to make the world a better place, so here are the best moments we found especially great for sports this summer.
- LeBron James’ I Promise School
One of the first events that comes to mind should be LeBron James’ I Promise School. LeBron opened the school in his home city of Akron, Ohio in late July, accommodating 240 third and fourth graders. James vows for the school to host grades one through eight by the year 2022. The I Promise School is part of the Akron Public School District, and, according to James, is designed to be a “groundbreaking school that will be a nationally recognized model for urban and public school excellence.” LeBron designed the school to cater to underprivileged youth, and randomly selected students with lower academic performance than their peers within the Akron Public School District to attend. The I Promise School will provide breakfast, lunch and a snack for its students among many other resources. This is an important step forward and an example for other professional athletes to use their talent and resources to serve underprivileged communities and their hometowns. LeBron is paving the way for future generations and hopefully other professional athletes will use their power to do the same.
- Milwaukee Bucks interviewing head coach candidate Becky Hammon
Another groundbreaking and historical moment for the NBA and sports this past summer was the Milwaukee Bucks interviewing head coach candidate Becky Hammon. This wasn’t just any interview, it was the first head coach interview held for a woman in NBA history. Hammon has broken the glass ceiling like this multiple times as she was the first full-time female coach in any of the big four sports associations ever. She was an assistant under Greg Popovich and even led the Spurs’ summer league team to its respective championship title back in 2015. While Hammon did not make it as one of the Bucks’ finalists for the position, it was a groundbreaking moment for the NBA and a huge step forward for women in professional sports.
- Nike’s “Just Do It” advertisement campaign starring Colin Kaepernick
Finally, one of the biggest moments in both sports and news, not just for the summer but perhaps the whole year, was Nike’s “Just Do It” advertisement campaign starring former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick. The campaign’s slogan this year, “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything,” has struck a chord with and inspired many people. While it has faced some backlash, the campaign has resulted in over $40 million worth of media exposure for Nike. The campaign features other athletes that have faced adversity throughout their lives, including Shaquem Griffin, a one-handed NFL linebacker, and Lacey Baker, the first openly queer woman to join the Nike Skateboarding team. Among them, Serena Williams, LeBron James, and Odell Beckham Jr. are some other athletes included in the campaign. This campaign is inspiring for young athletes who have faced challenges throughout their lives, and is a reminder to persevere through their tribulations in order to succeed.
- Naomi Osaka winning the U.S. Open over Serena Williams
The preceding narrative of whether or not Williams can tie the 24 Grand Slam singles record was all that anyone was talking about. Osaka, who idolized and replicated Williams’ play style, was a rising star on the women’s tour, but was appearing in her first major final. This match may be more well-known for Williams’ outburst during the second set, which occurred at the expense of yet another chair umpire. The point and game violation completely shifted the momentum of the second set, resulting in a straight set victory for Osaka. The controversy overlooked the fact that Osaka was the first player of Japanese descent to win a slam. It also came at a time where Asian-Americans were gaining more of a spotlight in the media, with movies like Crazy Rich Asians and Searching casting lead roles to Asians. And due to her first slam victory, Osaka inked a Nissan sponsorship and the largest Adidas deal for a female athlete, making her millions in the process.
- Ben Simmons practicing at UCR
In case you didn’t already know, our men’s basketball team hired David Patrick as the new head coach back in March. Patrick is actually the godfather of NBA point guard Ben Simmons and even hinted at the idea of bringing the Rookie of the Year winner out to UCR to practice alongside the men’s team. This ended up happening back in June, and although Simmons may not be foregoing his second consecutive rookie season to suit up for the Highlanders, it’s worth mentioning that an NBA player visited our campus.
- LeBron signing with the Lakers
I don’t even like this team and I’m just as excited as the next Lakers fan. The Lakers not being competitive just doesn’t feel right as an NBA fan, especially when their sub .500 teams keep getting national television coverage. LA’s signing of the league’s best player doesn’t necessarily make them title favorites over Golden State, but it sure does make the Lake Show fun to watch again.