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A brilliant idea is helping anti-Trump Patriots fans feel good supporting their team.

Trump's favorite team is headed back to the Super Bowl. Let's hope for #AGoodGame.

A brilliant idea is helping anti-Trump Patriots fans feel good supporting their team.

Donald Trump loves the New England Patriots, and the Patriots (or at least their owners, head coach, and star quarterback) love him back.

Quarterback Tom Brady infamously kept a "Make America Great Again" hat in his locker during the 2015 season. The following year, head coach Bill Belichick wrote a letter Trump read on-stage during a rally, gushing about how great the future president was. Owner Robert Kraft even gave the commander-in-chief a Super Bowl ring after the team won in 2017.

While most of the team's fans probably don't care too much about the political leanings of their favorite athletes — at least enough to affect how they feel about the game — some, very reasonably, do feel a bit conflicted.


Trump poses with Patriots coach Bill Belichick during a ceremony honoring the team for winning the 2017 Super Bowl. Photo by Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images.

So last year, two Patriots fans decided to put their own feelings of conflict to good use before the Super Bowl, raising $100,000 in the process.

Pats fans Josh Gondelman and Emma Sandoe came up with a brilliant idea in their quest to root for their problematic football fave: They'd donate money to a good cause every time the Patriots score.

Gondelman pledged $100 for every Patriots touchdown and $50 for every Patriots field goal to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, sending the group a total of $500. Sandoe pledged $5 to Planned Parenthood for every Patriots point, bringing her total to $170. Others jumped in on the action as well, making pledges in various amounts to various charities. By night's end, according to Sandoe, people on the #AGoodGame hashtag had committed more than $100,000 to charity.

Socially-conscious sports fans Sandoe and Gondelman.

With the Patriots back in the Super Bowl, I caught up with Sandoe and Gondelman (full disclosure, I know Josh from Twitter — you should follow him) to see what they had in store for #AGoodGame, part two. They didn't disappoint.

Asked why she thinks last year's campaign took off the way it did, Sandoe says she believes "deep down people want an opportunity to turn negative feelings into something positive and constructive."

"Certainly, being on Twitter, being politically active, or just being alive in 2018 can often feel like a negative experience,  and this gave people that avenue to turn it into something positive, even without the football aspects," she adds.

For this year's iteration, the duo launched the A Good Game website, where people can log their own pledges for this year's Super Bowl. The simple site, put together by Ronik Design, also offers a bit of background on the project as well as a list of some of Sandoe and Gondelman's suggested charities.

This time around, Gondelman's donations will be going to the Loyola Immigrant Justice Clinic, and Sandoe's will support the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Tom Brady lifts the Super Bowl trophy after the Patriots 34-28 win over the Falcons in the 2017 Super Bowl. Photo by Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images.

Being a sports fan in a politically heated year like 2018 can be tough, but we all have our ways of working through it.

The #AGoodGame campaign is just one of several examples of people dealing with some of the unease that happens when someone or something we love does something that makes us feel uncomfortable.

Take the 2016 World Series, for example. With the baseball season winding to a close, the Chicago Cubs looked like they had a legitimate shot at winning their first World Series championship since 1908. As they got ready to head into the playoffs, the team traded for Aroldis Chapman, one of the league's best relief pitchers. Many fans cheered, convinced that Chapman would lead the team to victory; others were a bit more conflicted, though it had nothing to do with baseball.

At the tail-end of the 2015 season, Chapman allegedly fired a handgun eight times, once into the open window of a car, and choked his girlfriend. While he was eventually suspended for 30 games, he never quite owned up to his actions. The Cubs' decision to acquire someone facing credible domestic violence allegations left some fans wondering whether it was worth winning a World Series if that was the cost.

Cubs fan Caitlin Swieca reconciled her love for the team with her disdain for domestic violence by launching #pitchin4DV, pledging $10 to domestic violence organizations every time Chapman recorded a save (one of the key stats for relief pitchers). Others joined in the movement, and helped raise $38,670. The Cubs did win the World Series that season, and Chapman did play a key role for the team down the stretch — and some really great charities made a bit of money along the way.

Chapman celebrates the Cubs 8-7 win over the Cleveland Indians in Game Seven of the 2016 World Series. Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images.

There's an important lesson in all of this: If you look for it, there's usually something positive that can come out of negative situations if you're willing to act.

As the Chapman example showed, this isn't just about Donald Trump. In fact, maybe you love Donald Trump. Either way, you can still get in on these #AGoodGame-type campaigns as well. Gamification can be a lot of fun, as anyone who's ever owned a FitBit can confirm, and it's part of why people love to play Fantasy Football so much. That's the driving concept behind these campaigns: combining charity with sports for a better world. Give it a try!

True

When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

Photo by Tod Perry

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