More and more, sports are becoming a formidable outlet for charitable change. In an article recently published in the Huffington Post, Ryan Scott addresses the, “increased professionalization of sports philanthropy, as leaders in this field recognize more ambitious ways to serve their communities while forging new partnerships.”
For celebrity athletes, teams, leagues and sports leaders, engaging in community involvement programs is an age-old tradition. With the the ability to provide educational opportunities and bridge social and economic gaps, initiatives of sports-related changes have the power to impact real social change.
Now, a variety of corporate and nonprofit leaders are utilizing the mass appeal of sports through progress in corporate social responsibility. A number of these are amping up their influence by extending their philanthropic causes.
Let’s take a look at a few:
Major League Baseball Charities – MLB’s nonprofit arm strives to affect change in issues ranging from physical education, public safety, medical research, literacy, and veteran affairs. In July, they unveiled upgrades to an existing space at the CityLink Center in Cincinnati to create a new veterans reintegration center, helping thousands of veterans in the area to facilitate a successful transition back into the community. Another contribution of MLBC is the continual volunteer efforts of popular athletes with disaster relief across the country.
Special Olympics – Giving someone with disabilities the chance to participate in athletics is the ultimate way to change someone’s life through sports. With its entire mission purporting a more inclusive society and respect for those with disabilities, the Special Olympics is a powerhouse in providing life-changing opportunities for those in need. According to the Huffington Post, the Walt Disney Company, ESPN and Special Olympics have invested a multi-million dollar financial investment towards a two-year global initiative that will leverage the power of sports to promote an “environment of social inclusion and acceptance” through the Unified Sports program.
The NFL Foundation – The philanthropic branch of football represents 32 NFL teams and targets the health and safety of sports, youth football, and community engagement. On “NFL Tuesdays” players volunteer at local schools, shelters, and hospitals, getting involved in the community to enact lasting, positive change.
The simple power of popularity of one’s regional sports team can do amazing things. It brings together fans, the team, and its partners. With the same enthusiasm we have for the sport, everyone can work together to change their community for the better.