It's no question that in 2018, our sports teams should not carry names or logos with racist undertones. In fact, it's quite astonishing that our country is still having this debate. Still, the Cleveland Indians took a step in the right direction last month by announcing that they will be removing the Chief Wahoo logo from their uniforms.
The caricature of a Native American has been the Indians' logo since 1948 and has been the subject of fierce debate in recent years, much like the Washington Redskins name and logo. Many groups across the Americas have lobbied the MLB team to renounce the logo, but failed. Until now. This year, Rob Manfred, commissioner of baseball has convinced the club to abandon the logo.
Of course, the name is just as offensive as the logo and will remain, for now. However, we must acknowledge and applaud this small step towards diversity and inclusion.
For the first time ever, the NBA selected its All-Star teams based on a draft. The top vote getters in each conference were named captain and they’ll be able to select their team to play with during the All-Star game. Another first is that All-Star game teams will donate money to two community organizations selected by the team captains. The league will make a $350,000 donation on behalf of the winning team, while the losing team will select a similar charity to receive $150,000.
According to the National Basketball Association, “In addition to a full schedule of community events that will take place during All-Star, Team LeBron and Team Stephen will choose a local or national organization to play for, with the donations directed toward outreach efforts in Los Angeles.
While these changes in the format were made to spice up the competition and provide value for the fans, this will also provide immense impact to the local communities. Integrating philanthropy into the All-Star format ensures that it is front and center during the biggest moment of the NBA season. There will be ongoing buzz leading up to the All-Star weekend and throughout the game, which will raise awareness and funds for very worthy organizations. This is an authentic way to weave charitable actions into the action on the court. To those that follow the NBA, this should come as no surprise as they are one of the most innovative leaders when it comes to activism, social impact, and community work. It is a part of the league’s DNA, and by integrating it within one of the league’s crown jewels, this shows that philanthropy is a key objective for the NBA.
The Super Bowl is the crown jewel for the NFL. Thousands of fans were in Minnesota at the game, enjoying the festivities, and millions more watched the game at home. It’s the single largest game in sports, so much so, that an entire week has been built surrounding the game. As the Super Bowl has grown in popularity, so have the events throughout the week and the impact made in the community. Below is a list of all #SportsDoingGood events in conjunction with the Super Bowl:
Thursday, February 1: Legends for Charity
During each year’s dinner, the Pat Summerall Award is presented to someone who has made a significant contribution in the sports field. This year’s award winner was Tony Dungy, NFL Hall of Famer, historic coach and analyst on NBC’s Football Night in America. All of the money raised throughout the night goes directly to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Friday, February 2: Super Bowl Town Hall
NFL players and executive participated in panel discussions to review lessons learned from the activist athlete this season with a focus on what’s coming next. RISE released a report on athlete activism in 2017 and also provided best practices moving forward.
Saturday, February 3: 2018 Super Bowl Breakfast
According to the NFL, The Super Bowl Breakfast started in 1988 and recognizes the presentation of the Athletes in Action Bart Starr Award to the NFL player, voted on by his peers, for outstanding character and leadership in the home, on the field and in the community.
Saturday, February: Frosty Fat Tire Festival
This is a pre-Super Bowl event aimed at raising $40,000 for families in need in the community. Join employees from UnitedHealth Group, UnitedHealthcare and Optum at the 2nd annual UnitedHealthcare Children’s Foundation Festival (UHCCF) fundraiser. The festival features 50 fat tire circuit bike riders who ride around a ½-mile circuit as many times as possible to raise dollars that fund medical grants that help children gain access to health-care related services. All funds go towards helping the mission of UHCCF.
Minnesota – Legacy Fund
In addition, the Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee created the Minnesota Super Bowl Legacy Fund. Over the course of a year, the Legacy Fund provided 52 grants, one each to a community in Minnesota that is committed to improving the health and wellness of the state’s children. Highlights of the Legacy Fund include:
Super Snack Challenge
The Legacy Fund asked young people ages 8-14 to participate in the Super Snack Challenge, where children submitted a recipe with their favorite healthy gameday snack. 52 winners were selected and had the chance to attend the Kids Tailgate Party during the Super Bowl festival.
Ten “All-Pro Chefs” were honored at the tailgate, and one lucky winner received a $25,000 to donate to the charity of his/her choice.
Super School Breakfast
The Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee’s Super School Breakfast worked in conjunction with the NFL’s Play 60 Breakfast-in-the-Classroom initiative in the school systems. The hope is that the Legacy Fund’s collaboration with Play 60, Midwest Dairy Council, GENYOUTH along with others, will provide access to healthy, nutritious food that will give children a productive start and help them power through a healthy and active day.
Mike Babcock, head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs, has been using his notoriety in Canada to bring awareness to the issue of mental illness. After having lost two friends in the same summer as a result of mental illness, Babcock knew he needed to learn more about the problem and how he could help. He has since become a mental health ambassador in the NHL and beyond.
In a sport where grit and toughness are necessities, Babcock wants his players and others to know that mental toughness has nothing to do with mental health. Babcock admits that prior to the deaths of his friends, he had not seen mental illness as a prevalent issue because he had not known what to look for. Now he is more educated and has made it his mission to share that knowledge with others. His first bit of advice? Check what is happening in your own family. Are you giving your family members the space to be vulnerable and communicate when they are having problems? Talking through issues is not a sign of weakness, and the more we talk to one another, the more aware we will be.
In November, Babcock teamed up with Babsocks and Movember in an initiative called Ahead of the Game to raise funds for mental health awareness.
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to unleash human potential
We've all heard the old adage "Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime." Jarrett Allen, Brooklyn Nets rookie, put that very philosophy into practice this holiday season. Rather than serving a Thanksgiving meal or handing out free food items, Allen decided on a different approach to giving back this November. He took twenty-five eighth graders to a local grocery store, and gave them each $70 to plan Thanksgiving dinner. Allen also equipped them with calculators to help with their math and budgeting during the shopping trip.
It's a small lesson, but financial literacy can have long term impact on a child and his or her family. Allen recognizes that economic hardship can set young people back very early in life, and he wanted to use his Thanksgiving outreach to teach fundamental skills that children can carry with them as they get older. Allen also wanted to impress upon them that their parents work hard and sacrifice to prepare for the holidays, so they should always be grateful for what they have, no matter their situation. At nineteen, Allen is eager to teach these young adults the same lessons he's been learning as a rookie away from home for the first time in his life - independence and gratitude.
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NIKE believes in the power of sport to unleash human potential
Maya Moore has teamed up with an elected prosecutor, Mark Dupree, and justice system expert, Miriam Aroni Krinsky, to educate the public on the pitfalls of our current criminal justice system. Their goal: the redefine how prosecutors, and the public, view justice. For far too long, prosecutors' success has been judged by their tally of convictions rather than their ability to build safer, healthier communities. The reality is, there are human lives attached to every case that comes before the court. Yet, the lives of those being prosecuted are rarely taken into consideration. The result has been punishments that do not fit the crimes, swift and wrongful convictions, and mass incarceration instead of medical treatment.
Moore began this journey after learning of Jonathan Irons' story from her godparents. At sixteen years old, Irons was picked up for a burglary charge to which he pleaded not guilty. He was convicted and sentenced to sixty-five years in prison. Moore's family has been working for two decades to exonerate Irons, and recently, Moore has stepped up and stepped out to advocate for sweeping criminal justice reform.
Moore's recent advocacy work has been quiet but courageous. As she has solidified her place on the court, she has started to leverage her platform as a WNBA superstar to bring awareness to Irons' plight and others like him. Her first objective is to educate the public on who we are electing as prosecutors and what kind of approach they take to justice. The mission is to elect leaders who "promote fairness, equity, and sensible approaches to justice system engagement." Moore is one of several professional athletes who have taken on criminal justice reform as part of the larger dialogue around racial inequality in the United States, and while her work has not been lauded as much as some of her male counterparts, she is making great impact in her hometown and beyond.
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to unleash human potential
This past weekend, the NFL finished its second iteration of My Cause My Cleats. For a league that had been dubbed the “No Fun League,” the loosening of its rules for My Cause My Cleats in 2016 was seen as a big deal. Not only did the league loosen its cleat rules for a game, but the league empowered players to raise money and awareness for causes important to each person. It was a rousing success, as fans connected with players on an individual level and the media was able to highlight and bring awareness to causes that have touched its players. For a league long known as protecting the shield, for one week, the players were able to show off their individuality.
Throughout the entire week, fans were given an inside view of what each player was raising awareness for. Teams created unboxing videos of their participating players to distribute the content to fans. Players were vocal about their support during press conferences and to the media. The program has quickly become an important staple within the league’s community calendar. As simple as it sounds, the league has helped elevate the initiative by creating a specific website (inserted link) where fans can not only read quotes and see the cleats, but they can learn more about these causes.
These stories are supported via social and digital channels and then the cleats are auctioned off to raise money for each individual charity. The next step in the movement is to expand the program from one week to one month. Since the league has monthly initiatives, the NFL should designate one month such as December as a month for the players to lead the way. If you couple this with the league’s landmark partnership to give $89 million to social justice issues, this would be a logical next step to allow players to show off their personality and make My Cause My Cleats a permanent fixture within the NFL.
At the end of November, the NFL and a group of players agreed to partner on a plan to address social justice issues, with the league contributing $89 million over seven years to projects dealing with criminal justice reform, law enforcement, community relations and education. The agreement calls for national funds to be allocated accordingly: 25% to the United Negro College Fund; 25% to Dream Corps and 50% to the Players Coalition.
This plan surpasses the NFL’s contributions to Salute to Service or Breast Cancer Awareness, but it will not replace these causes. On paper, it’s a great pledge extended from the league. They had no responsibility to make donations to social justice issues – if the players had wanted, they could have used their time and money to raise awareness and funds for causes near and dear to them. The agreement does not include language calling for players to end protests during the national anthem in exchange for funds. However, the NFL hopes this olive branch will end the peaceful protests.
When you dig a bit deeper into the numbers, there is some skepticism by players. Essentially, each owner is willing to give roughly $400,000 per year over the course of the plan to make the national anthem protests go away. Considering the NFL ratings are down and advertisers are threating to pull out, this seems like a no-brainer for owners. Players have taken notice and many have pulled out of the Players Coalition because they don’t feel like the owners are doing enough. As a result, some of the most prominent members such as Eric Reid, Michael Thomas and Russell Okung have left the coalition because they had a different vision for how to work with the league.
Okung told Pro Football Talk, “I think you’ve got to keep in mind who started this whole thing, who sort of put himself on the line,” Okung said. “There’s definitely some respect there. I believe this is the same league who has effectively blackballed him. So when you’re dealing with a certain group of people, this entity as a league — you try to keep in mind, is this a reparation, or just $89 million? Reparation extends beyond just dollars and cents, in real change in policy and lobbying. I think that should be more at the forefront of what we’re trying to accomplish here.”
On paper, this agreement should be celebrated. Only few people know if this is truly a landmark moment for players and owners to come together to make a difference or if it’s more of a ploy to end the protests to keep advertisers happy, and ultimately, increase revenues for the league. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle, but for a league that is always focused on the bottom line, I tend to believe this is more a financial decision more than anything else. Rather than this being an “either-or” situation, I’d like to see the league still allow players to protest and use their given platform in a positive way.
NIKE believes in the power of sport to unleash human potential
World Sport Chicago, an independent non-profit organization, supports resiliency and strengthens community by increasing access to youth sport. Formed in 2007 as the non-profit legacy organization of Chicago’s bid for the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games, World Sport Chicago has a deeply rooted understanding of the power of sport. World Sport Chicago takes action to connect children to the caring mentors, safe spaces, and supportive networks that help them thrive. One of the non-profit’s main events is Chicago Paints the World, a high-end fundraiser that brings together sports, celebrities and philanthropy.
Chicago Paints the World, which occurred on Thursday, November 2nd, paired some of Chicago's most renowned celebrities with P. Scott Sinclair of NYCH Art Gallery to create one-of-a-kind artwork that was showcased and auctioned off during a night to remember. This high-end cocktail style event brought together celebrities, business leaders and supporters as they enjoyed hors d'oeuvres and an open bar while browsing the artwork and taking part in the auction.
This event was successful for a few reasons: First, this event stood out because it felt like a high-end gala. Everything from the event space, DJ, hors d’oeuvres and alcohol were top notch, yet much of the alcohol and auction items were donated. As a result, the overhead expenses were minimal, without compromising the look and feel of the event. The DJ had a playlist that kept the excitement high and everyone buzzing throughout the night. Second, each art piece was unique and held special meaning to each artist. Next to each piece of art stood the artist, which helped increase bids on the mobile auction site. As guests would walk around and peruse the art, the celebrity artist would be there to engage with the individual and persuade him or her to bid on the artwork. Finally, the key to any great live auction is the auctioneer. He or she needs to be able to work a room and get guests excited to bid on the artwork. The auctioneer was successful in all of these regards, which helped increase bids and raise more money for World Sport Chicago. When you add all of these characteristics together, you have a recipe that made Chicago Paints the World a rousing success.
By: Erica Prosser
In a time when sport is typically a powerful unifying force, the NFL social justice protests have become as divisive as any issue we’ve seen. The story is this: generally speaking, black athletes are kneeling in protest during the national anthem, and white fans are infuriated. And, just like with any politically charged issue, the protests' opposition has hijacked the narrative. To be clear, black athletes are taking a knee to protest police brutality, criminal injustice, and racial inequality. They are not protesting the anthem or the military that fights to protect us, contrary to the stories we have been hearing from national news outlets.
This protest has done exactly what a protest is meant to do - make people pay attention. But instead of discussing the issue at hand - police brutality, racial inequality, and criminal justice reform - we are discussing the gesture. Unfortunately, privileged white people have distorted the narrative to make this about the military. If a player kneels, he doesn’t respect the flag, the country, or soldiers. Last time I checked, patriotism isn't just about the military. It's about loving your country and being proud of its ideals and values. Men and women of color who are subjected to systematic racism do not feel loved by their country, valued by their neighbors, or proud of the systems that continuously fail them. They are trying to live in the freedom that they are supposedly granted by the flag and everything it stands for.
We hear, “What about the men and women who have given their lives to protect our freedom?” To everyone who asks that, please take a moment to ask yourself a different question: what about the lives of innocent people of color that have been taken by police brutality and mass incarceration? They don't matter because they weren't wearing camo? This rhetoric and vitriol is exactly why the Black Lives Matter movement started in the first place. By making this argument about disrespecting fallen soldiers, you are saying these black lives don't matter as much as soldiers' lives, if at all. Soldiers should undoubtedly be respected for their sacrifice. But so should people of color. While you stand for your fallen brothers and sisters, they will kneel for theirs.
That leads us to a second argument from the opposition: keep politics out of sports. Find a different way to protest. If you have a TV to tune into the NFL, then you certainly have a TV to watch the news. And you will know that no matter what method of protest people of color employ, there is unrelenting criticism. Marching? No. Pulling down statues? No. Rioting? Absolutely not. They can’t march, can't gather in the streets, definitely can't incite violence, and now, they can't kneel. Please, white people, tell us what they can do? Oh, I know - shut up, and play football.
Can we, for a moment, consider the minstrel show that is professional football? We have predominantly black teams competing in an arena while predominantly white owners sell tickets to other white people to watch the competition. So, when I hear that absurd argument to keep politics out of sports, I hear: “Just do what your told, win games, we will let you stick around. We will continue to show faux-support, as long as you continue to entertain us. But the second you step out of line, we will metaphorically, if not physically, lynch you.” When you argue to keep politics out of sports, you are admitting, "I'm uncomfortable with you bringing my privilege to my attention. I turn on the TV because you are entertainment; you are money-making machines. I don't pay for your humanity, your intelligence, or your feelings. I pay to use your body as my entertainment.”
Argument number three: “Rich black athletes are luckier than most to be making millions playing sports. They are not the people who should be protesting the system.” Okay, so rich black men can't protest, but when is the last time we listened to a poor black man's concerns? Oh, that's right - never. We are telling an entire population that it doesn’t matter what they accomplish, how much they earn, what kind of notoriety and/or influence they enjoy, that their voices, feelings, experiences, and lives do not matter. They are worthless unless they are entertaining us, the white majority.
This incredibly important dialogue should not be about ratings, or patriotism, or even if Colin Kaepernick should have a job. It’s about racial inequality and the symptomatic effects that plague Americans of color. The question becomes, how do those protesting regain control of the narrative? I believe it may require a comprehensive set of actionable goals. What is the end game? What are some tangibles that we can work towards as a collective group?
Of course, we’ve seen some movement by individual players and even some teams. Colin Kaepernick has donated nearly $1 million to social justice programs. Malcom Jenkins is lobbying for criminal justice reform on Capitol Hill. The Miami Dolphins have created a player-owner social justice fund. It's clear that NFL athletes, and professional athletes in general, have incredible power and influence to disrupt the system. We need to identify concrete goals to work against, not only to silence the opposition, but ultimately, to improve the quality of life for people of color in the United States.