About 5 years ago, www.SportsFeelGoodSories.com was established to showcase inspiration from the world of sports. The premise was to feature inspirational sports stories that focused on good deeds, overcoming obstacles, achievement and sportsmanship. The idea for the site was inspired by the Jason McElwain story, the autistic student manager who played in just one varsity basketball game, but made his mark by scoring 20 points in about 4 minutes of play.
When the site was in the early stages of development, our biggest concern was whether or not there would be enough feel good stories to feature. Our fears were quickly dismissed as athletes and teams from various sports and all levels of play demonstrated that the content choices were plentiful.
More recently, media coverage of inspirational stories involving sports has become more mainstream. In addition to these sports inspirational stories being covered by more Internet sports sites and blogs, national morning news shows and talk shows like Ellen have increased their coverage. And, at least in my circles, the number of feel good stories taking on a viral quality on Facebook and Twitter has skyrocketed.
This past year has been a great year for fans of inspirational sports stories. Some of these stories might inspire you, some might make you cry, and hopefully, all of them will make you feel good. Here then are our choices for the “13 Best Sports Feel Good Stories” in 2013.
13. Two Points for Sportsmanship at high school basketball game. Mitchell Marcus is a special needs student from Coronado High School in El Paso, Texas, and loves basketball. His coach had him suit up for the last game. His teammates valiantly tried to help Mitchell score a basket, but unfortunately Mitchell’s shots weren’t going in. With seconds left in the game, and Franklin High School throwing the ball in from the sidelines, it appeared as if Mitchell’s varsity game would result in a scoreless effort. But, then Jonathon Montanez, a member of the Franklin High School team, took matters into his own hands. Instead of passing to a teammate, Montanez decided to give Mitchell another shot at making two points by throwing him the ball. His assist was rewarded as Mitchell made a last second shot. See Steve Hartman video covering the story.
12. Fifty marathons in fifty states. Need some inspiration for your morning run? Talk to Don Wright. He’s run 50 marathons in 50 states. At age 52, Don Wright developed a passion for running just before he was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a form of cancer. Only about ½ of the people diagnosed with multiple myeloma live more than 5 years. Don is going on 9 years. This past January he completed his quest to run a marathon in each of the 50 states (he’s run 70 marathons in all). Very impressive. Don’s life philosophy: “Live one day at a time and make it a masterpiece.” See Don Wright’s article in CNN.
11. Barefoot basketball team wins international basketball tournament. From USA Today,
“A group of Mexican youths from the small population of indigenous Trique Indians are being hailed as heroes in their home country after going undefeated at a youth basketball competition in Argentina. Their heritage is only part of their story. Because many of the boys can’t afford to buy sneakers, most of the players on the team play barefoot.”
Their efforts earned them a one-minute standing ovation on the floor of Mexican’s congress. (Hmm, it would seem a major shoe company might see an opportunity here.)
10. Those astonishing Kansas City Chiefs execute the big turnaround. From a 2 & 14 season in 2012 to the playoffs this year and at least 11 wins. The additions of head coach Andy Reid and QB Alex Smith played huge roles, but the entire team elevated to a new level to achieve this success. Read more on the Chiefs Turnaround at the Citizens-Time.
9. LeBron James makes the case for team play. Not only can LeBron James dominate a basketball game himself, but his style of play brings out the best in his teammates. He was the regular season MVP, the Finals MVP and his team won the NBA championship. There are many players past and present that can put up some phenomenal scoring numbers, but LeBron is amongst a small group of superstars that understand that basketball is a team game. His philanthropic efforts also lead the league. See SI’s Lee Jenkins case for why LeBron should’ve been Sportsman of the Year.
8. Mariano Riveria retires the side. Adam Morrow once said, “Rooting for the Yankees is like rooting for the house in blackjack.” But, when Mariano Riveria decided to retire from baseball after 23 years in the game, it was more than just Yankee fans who he had earned considerable respect from.
“Rivera’s personage is so humble, godly even, that his legacy will go on. Few players in any sport have retired with more reverence from his peers. “Probably not since Koufax have we seen anyone leave the game with so much respect,” says Joe Torre, Rivera’s manager with the Yankees for four of his five World Series championships.”
7. Andre Johnson shows it’s more blessed to give than receive. As he’s done for the past 7 years, Andre played Santa Claus at Toys”R”Us for a group of at-risk kids from the Houston area. Johnson invited 12 kids from children’s protective services and their families for a 80-second shopping spree at Toys”R”Us. See “Andre Claus” story and video.
6. Teddy Toss. A hockey fundraiser to collect Teddy Bears for needy kids. Seeing is believing – watch the video.
5. Fifth grade football team makes a stand. When there water boy/team manager is picked on by classmates, this 5th grade football teams takes a classy approach to sending a message. See Fifth Grade Football Team Stands Up to Bullies.
4. The football feel good story of the year. When middle school football teams plan plays without their coaches’ knowledge, the results are not always favorable. But in this case, even the coaches would have to admit, the results were fantastic. See The Football Feel Good Story of the Year.
3. “Boston Strong” and the Red Sox. With the tragedy of the marathon bombings on the minds of players and fans, the bearded boys of the Red Sox provided a rallying focus for the city of Boston. Long on team chemistry and short on any sense of giving up; they delivered. Boston Strong. Read this summary from Obnoxious Boston Fan.
2. Nelson Mandala. The world paused to celebrate an incredible life when Nelson Mandala passed away this year. See the movie Invictus (here’s the Invictus trailer) to see how Mandala understood that sports, in this case rugby, can unite a country.
1. “Can someone loan me a jogger?” This is a story of brotherly love and a heartfelt request from a 10 year-old boy so that he could take his brother for a run on a jogger. Read about Tobias and Titus.
Keep those sports feel good stories coming. If the year 2013 is any indication, the subject matter pool is wide and deep.
–Mike O’Halloran – O’Halloran is editor of www.sportsfeelgoodstories.com and author of Layups and Life Lessons: 101 Coaching Tips for Youth Basketball and Well Prepared Coach: 30 Youth Basketball Practice Plans.