Think cricket's just for stodgy British types? Think again.
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When Neeraj Kher came to live in the United States, he thought he’d made a mistake. He couldn’t find any cricket.

He had always been a cricket player. Born in New Delhi, India, he had learned the sport young, and then lived in two other cricket-playing countries, Australia and England.

But then, he settled in Newport, New Jersey, in 2011 for work and to be closer to his sister.


“The first year here I almost went into depression,” Kher says. He thought, “I can’t live here. I have to go back to England or Australia.”

Luckily, one day while driving past a Target store, he saw a man “wearing whites” — traditional cricket-playing clothing. Kher pulled over and approached the man to ask where he’d played cricket that day.

Kher was surprised to learn there was a massive cricket organization serving the greater New York metro area called the Commonwealth Cricket League.

A group of Commonwealth Cricket League members. Photo courtesy of Columbia Cricket Club.

The Commonwealth Cricket League has more than 70 teams with players as diverse as the city and its outlying area.

But then again, perhaps it’s not actually that strange to think the sport would be beloved across the tri-state area. After all, cricket is played in more than a hundred different countries, and that section of the Northeast is home to well over 5 million immigrants.

Kher quickly began playing for the nearby Hoboken Cricket Club, a team in the CCL. And today, he serves as the team’s vice president, working side-by-side with its founder and president Darragh Dempsey, an Irishman.

“What I really like about the CCL is that you don’t have to be from a specific background to play,” says Kher.

League games give people a chance to become friends with players, their families, and fans from all around the world.

According to Kher, there are other cricket leagues in the area that only cater to people from individual countries, aimed at strengthening bonds within their particular immigrant communities. But in the CCL, “As long as you have 11 players who are committed ... you can play in the league,” he says.

The players set a beautiful tone of inclusion — willing to put aside bitter sports-based rivalries originating in their respective homelands.

Kher and fellow teammate hold a Last Man Stands trophy for cricket. Photo via Kher.

“Given that I’m from India, we have a huge rivalry with Pakistan,” Kher says. On the field of play, Kher admits those in the CCL are highly competitive, but off the field, he says, “there’s no anger, or animosity; there’s no turf war, nothing like that.”

That said, cricket has faced challenges catching on in the majority of the United States.

Traditional cricket games can span three to five days, though there’s a shorter version where games last about six hours. Such lengthy gameplay can make it virtually impossible for working-class people to get into cricket, even though less equipment is required for a contest, compared to the likes of hockey or golf.

Moreover, the weather experienced by much of the U.S. means cricket can’t be played year-round, which obviously isn’t the case in the warmer, cricket-crazed regions across Africa and Southeast Asia.

Still, the highly inclusive CCL is growing, and many in the league are taking action to expand it further to ensure its future.

Kher's team on a trip to Guyana. Photo via Kher.

Kher’s Hoboken Cricket Club has done local outreach and set up camps where children can learn the sport. He’s sure that there will be interest in the sport, even with communities that have had less exposure to it, like the local Hispanic community.

“We want to send invites to local baseball clubs, so they can come, see the game, and learn the game,” Kher says. Like many others, he believes baseball enthusiasts might find joy in cricket, as the two sports share similar characteristics.

Cricket itself is also evolving, becoming far more exciting than ever. Over the course of the past decade, an even shorter version of cricket — called T20 — has taken hold, with games lasting about as long as a baseball game. The contests are action-packed, with players taking more risks with fewer opportunities to score. Some speculate this incarnation could help cricket gain greater fandom in the U.S., offering opportunities for cultures once separated by oceans to find common ground.

A day at the cricket field can be enjoyed by anyone who loves sports, no matter their cultural background.

Members of CCL hanging out on the field. Photo courtesy of Columbia Cricket Club.

The feel-good atmosphere is built on traditions reminiscent of those at football, baseball, or soccer games. Barbecue and all sorts of food and drinks are staples at cricket games — some of which have built-in breaks for chowing down and socializing.

So if you ever stumble upon a game of cricket, chances are you’ll be treated to a fun, educational experience that was once nonexistent in America. And if you run into an enthusiastic player and fan like Kher, you’ll no doubt leave the field with your curiosity peaked.

Dicks Sporting Goods - Cricket

All over the world, people are connecting over this sport.

Posted by Upworthy on Friday, February 23, 2018

This story was produced as part of a campaign called "17 Days" with DICK'S Sporting Goods. These stories aim to shine a light on real occurrences of sports bringing people together.

Correction 2/28/2018: Photo captions have been updated to correct identification.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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It's one thing to see a little kid skateboarding. It's another to see a stereotype-defying little girl skateboarding. And it's entirely another to see Paige Tobin.

Paige is a 6-year-old skateboarding wonder from Australia. A recent video of her dropping into a 12-foot bowl on her has gone viral, both for the feat itself and for the style with which she does it. Decked out in a pink party dress, a leopard-print helmet, and rainbow socks, she looks nothing like you'd expect a skater dropping into a 12-foot bowl to look. And yet, here she is, blowing people's minds all over the place.

For those who may not fully appreciate the impressiveness of this feat, here's some perspective. My adrenaline junkie brother, who has been skateboarding since childhood and who races down rugged mountain faces on a bike for fun, shared this video and commented, "If I dropped in to a bowl twice as deep as my age it would be my first and last time doing so...this fearless kid has a bright future!"

It's scarier than it looks, and it looks pretty darn scary.

Paige doesn't always dress like a princess when she skates, not that it matters. Her talent and skill with the board are what gets people's attention. (The rainbow socks are kind of her signature, however.)

Her Instagram feed is filled with photos and videos of her skateboarding and surfing, and the body coordination she's gained at such a young age is truly something.

Here she was at three years old:

And here she is at age four:


So, if she dropped into a 6-foot bowl at age three and a 12-foot bowl at age six—is there such a thing as an 18-foot bowl for her to tackle when she's nine?

Paige clearly enjoys skating and has high ambitions in the skating world. "I want to go to the Olympics, and I want to be a pro skater," she told Power of Positivity when she was five. She already seems to be well on her way toward that goal.

How did she get so good? Well, Paige's mom gave her a skateboard when she wasn't even preschool age yet, and she loved it. Her mom got her lessons, and she's spent the past three years skating almost daily. She practices at local skate parks and competes in local competitions.

She also naturally has her fair share of spills, some of which you can see on her Instagram channel. Falling is part of the sport—you can't learn if you don't fall. Conquering the fear of falling is the key, and the thing that's hardest for most people to get over.

Perhaps Paige started too young to let fear override her desire to skate. Perhaps she's been taught to manage her fears, or maybe she's just naturally less afraid than other people. Or maybe there's something magical about the rainbow socks. Whatever it is, it's clear that this girl doesn't let fear get in the way of her doing what she wants to do. An admirable quality in anyone, but particularly striking to see in someone so young.

Way to go, Paige. Your perseverance and courage are inspiring, as is your unique fashion sense. Can't wait to see what you do next.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less