Wednesday, September 5, 2012

ONE OF THE GOOD GUYS - Johann Olav Koss

I'm going to drift a little from the hockey cards for this post but I hope you stay with me on this one.  I'd love to get your opinions and thoughts when I'm through.

Tonight I read, for lack of a better term, a rant.  A rant ranging in subjects.  But as I read this rant all I could see was negative, negative, negative.  It left me thinking about it for a while.  I'll admit - it bothered me.

This part I'll be brief with.

Yes we live in a world where some crappy things happen.  Shady this and illegal that.  People who don't claim responsibility or flaunt and abuse the power they've been given.  But I whole-heartedly believe that for every negative "front page story" out there, there are many more positive ones out there.  They just aren't what sell.  It's a shame.

There are some people who have done some pretty amazing things - inspired not just one or two people, but hundreds or thousands.  There are some people who have not just offered some of their time for a cause, but have dedicated their lives to something they believe in.  There are some people who use their position in life (be it as a pro athlete, businessman, trade worker or even healthy human being) to breath positiveness into this world.

They deserve more face time.

And so I am starting a new topic on this blog.  And I'm calling it "One Of The Good Guys".

The goal of these posts is to simply give a person, organization or event that positively influences our world their "15 minutes" on my blog.

Now because my blog is sport related, I will stick to that subject (but there are a bunch of non-sport examples out there.....I promise you).

For my first post, I'm going to focus on a person named Johann Olav Koss.

If you're old enough, you might know the name Johann Olav Koss.  For those who aren't, he dominated the speed skating events in the 1994 Winter Olympics in his native Norway.  It was the final year of his speed skating career and some felt he was on the downslide.  But he put on one of the all-time great performances in Olympic history.  Three gold medals, three world records (two of which remained unbeaten until the advent of the "clap skate").

But his story isn't just about speed skating.  In fact, when all is said and done, he might become better known for something other than skating.

In 1992, Johann was the lead Athlete Ambassador of an organization called Olympic Aid.  An awareness and fundraising program to help war-torn countries.  Koss became so inspired by this program that in addition to donating his time, he donated his olympic gold winnings to the cause and challenged fellow athletes to do the same.  An unprecedented $18 million was raised.

In 2000, Olympic Aid became Right To Play.  Their mission statement:

To improve the lives of children in some of the most disadvantaged areas of the world by using the power of sport and play for development, health and peace.

Each year, Right To Play reach close to 835,000 children in more than 20 countries in regular weekly activities.  By the end of 2012 they have a goal of reaching 1,000,000 children on a weekly basis.

Their activities are facilitated by nearly 12.00 volunteer coaches, leaders and teachers.  They encourage leadership at all levels.  Junior leaders (some as young as 8-years-old) have become empowered through participating in Right To Play programs.

I chose Right To Play and Johann Olav Koss because I recently saw a fantastic ESPN documentary on the story of Right To Play.

I highly - HIGHLY recommend it.

Johann Olav Koss - One Of The Good Guys!

Now, if you've lasted this long I thank you.  I want to hear from you.

Your thoughts on the topic in general.  Your thoughts on some of the positive role models or organizations out there that are truly making a difference.  I'm not looking to change people.  I'm looking to give good stories, good people and good organizations their "15 minutes".
Thanks for your time.


  1. I guess I'm one of those 'old enough' to remember Koss.... he was a bad ass. Completely dominant in a very exciting sport.
    Great to hear about his off track accomplishments, which now seem to eclipse what he did on the ice.

  2. I heard Koss has embezzled MILLIONS from Right to Play!!! Just kidding brother. Good idea for a post.

  3. My university put on a few right to play events a couple of years ago to support the cause, and that is when I first had the chance to hear about Koss...a little before my time.

    George Chuvalo is someone who has been to hell and back and is giving back wholeheartedly to the community at large in Toronto and the GTA. And the only man to go the distance with falling to Ali. Class act.

  4. Well in some way I was the instigator behind this post from our dear friend. I absolutely loved this post from you. Keep up the great work and I hope I never write a negative piece again. I forgot that when you rant negative spitz, others pick up on that vibe and continue it. It takes strength and determination in changing the negs to pos and you have done that. It is my lesson learned. Peace