Carolina Panthers star defensive end Julius Peppers had been on an eight-month hiatus from the media until Friday, September 21st when he announced the launch of the Julius Peppers Hurricane Relief Fund at the Foundation For The Carolinas. The nine-time Pro Bowler established the fund to aid in the rebuilding process in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence, a massive storm that has claimed 43 lives, caused an estimated $50 billion in tentative damage estimates and is unfortunately still tormenting the coastal Carolinas.
Peppers, an Eastern Carolina native who also played football and basketball at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, saw photos and videos of the hurricane’s damage and sprung to action. Although his friends and family in Bailey, N.C. were able to escape the storm, seeing its effects on the surrounding areas of his home inspired Peppers to use his platform to help.
Peppers donated $100,000 to kick off the fund and called on the community, other NFL players and especially his teammates to get involved as well. He believes that the Carolina Panthers’ fans have given so much to the team through their loyalty, so it was time that the players return the favor and support them during this difficult time. Panthers linebacker Shaq Thompson and tight end Chris Manhertz have both shown their prompt support by pledging so far.
Though a future Hall of Famer who has accomplished so much on the field, Peppers is not one for the spotlight. Team officials said that his stance with the media is that he will talk only when he felt like he had something to say. As a man of few words, his break in silence emphasized the urgency of the hurricane’s relief efforts and his personal duty to use his platform as a professional athlete for social good. Peppers is an inspiration and example for other athletes to do more than just play their respective sports and be the change that their communities need.
Adidas is a global organization that regards its social and environmental responsibilities as of the utmost importance to its identity. It has been involved in several initiatives, including refugee support, women empowerment, education (to name a few). Earlier this year the company created Major League Soccer uniforms out of ocean waste plastic for all of the league’s teams over Earth Day weekend. It has also recently finished producing the first ever eco-friendly football jerseys made out of the same recycled materials for the University of Miami Hurricanes.
Adidas’s most recent ambition is to remove barriers to sport for underserved kids. The company has organized several community service initiatives in the past, but two years ago the mission of the brand’s “Social Purpose” platform became more focused on helping kids gain access to sports.
In a five-week program called “Month of Purpose,” Adidas employees participated in volunteer projects in Portland, New York, Los Angeles, South Carolina, and Indianapolis. About 200 of the brand’s employees refurbished a baseball diamond, created a new soccer pitch and basketball court, and provided shoes and sports gear at the Watts Empowerment Center in the South Los Angeles community. Adidas provided eight hours per quarter to its staff members as a baseline for the program, but many employees exceeded the requirement and contributed to the cause in their own time.
Watts, California is home to thousands of active gang members, the largest area in California of single-parent homes, and just nearly five percent of residents with a bachelor’s degree. About 50 percent of the community’s children don’t graduate high school.
Adidas set the bar high for other organizations as they continue to strive to change lives through sport. The company’s commitment to serving the community is unmistakable. By encouraging its staff members to participate in programs like “Month of Purpose,” Adidas ensures that its values are consistently represented through the people who comprise its brand and empower its team members to work towards the company’s overall mission to be impactful.
Picture Taken By: Shane Dunlap I Tribune-Review
Under the leadership of their head coach Mike Tomlin, the Pittsburgh Steelers have worked to raise awareness of child sex trafficking since last NFL season by supporting Operation Underground Railroad (OUR). The organization is composed of a group of former CIA operatives, special ops personnel and Navy Seals that rescue children worldwide in the sex trafficking and child slave industry. Tomlin recently joined OUR in a three-day mission to help change the culture on the island by empowering the local people to start self-policing and saving child sex slaves in their area.
Tomlin was originally inspired to take on such a serious social issue in wake of the National Anthem controversy that began last season. He understood that the debate was just one of several topics in the world today that divide not only the NFL but the human race as a people. He wanted to unite his team by focusing their attention on something they could all get behind, especially since most of his team are husbands and fathers.
Tomlin’s trip to Haiti brought him face-to-face with the issue, deepening his passion for the cause and solidifying his role as the face of OUR’s mission. As the father of a 12-year-old daughter, he sympathized with the stories of over 30 million child sex slaves worldwide who fuel a $150 billion business. He described what he saw in Haiti as things that he’ll “never be able to unsee,” but he uses his discomfort as fuel to get even more involved with combating child sex slavery.
As a coach, Tomlin brilliantly found common ground for his team to agree upon in the midst of a time of division. He continues to extend his role as a leader to transcend the football field and use his platform as the head coach of arguably the most storied franchise in sports to shed light on a social issue that hit home for both him and his players. Tomlin’s fervent dedication to ending child sex trafficking drove him to witness the problem firsthand, setting an amazing example of how powerful sports figures can be in making a worldwide difference.
After a seven-month long investigation into the Dallas Mavericks organization, findings confirmed that 15 female Dallas Mavericks employees were sexually harassed by former CEO Terdema Ussery over the last 20 years. The organization and, specifically, its Human Resources department were accused of covering up Ussery’s inappropriate behavior. Although the 43-page report found no evidence that owner Mark Cuban was aware of the misconduct that took place under his leadership, the NBA still holds him accountable for the culture and conduct of his employees.
At the request of the league, Cuban agreed to pay $10 million to advocacy organizations combating mistreatment of women and supporting women’s leadership and development in the sports industry. With the maximum fine that the NBA can enforce being $2.5 million, Cuban’s donation of four times that amount could be seen as a significant gesture towards reparation. Others could argue that the donation is nothing to a billionaire like Cuban and that such a punishment is insufficient compared to the emotional distress that the victims in his organization faced and are now forced to cope with.
It can also be argued that Cuban’s hefty donation was not philanthropic—just an avenue for him to repair the brands that are Mark Cuban and the Dallas Mavericks. However, according to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, Cuban’s actions in response to the allegations were “swift, thorough and transparent” as he did not shy away from the blame, explaining why he did not get suspended.
In an interview with Rachel Nichols on ESPN’s “The Jump,” Cuban expressed that he had no excuse and could and should have done better as ”the way [he] felt was nothing compared to the way [the victims] felt.” He spoke publicly and took the blame as he should have. He acknowledged that no explanation he could give would matter because it was his responsibility to know what was going on. Cuban also immediately brought in Cynthia Marshall as the Mavs’ new CEO and gave her his full support in transforming the organization’s culture. His urgency, humility, and empathy embodied how a leader should respond to such disturbing allegations.
Though, of course, it would have been preferred by all parties that these actions had taken into effect sooner than later, but Cuban’s sincere sentiments and concrete actions showed world class leadership in such a tragic and disturbing situation. He set the tone for how to address it, and at minimum, it can be agreed that $10 million towards women’s causes does more for the community than a $2.5 million fine paid to the league and a six-month suspension from ownership duties.
According to SportsBusiness Daily, the NBA has also announced that it will be hosting “several events in the coming months designed to help improve workplace cultures, as well as find more ways to have women in leadership roles around the league.” Among these events are workshops about diversity and inclusion within teams’ organizations.
This past month international soccer icon and established humanitarian Pelé announced the launch of The Pelé Foundation, his new global charitable foundation focused on empowering children in impoverished areas around the world. In its first year, the Foundation aims to fulfill its mission by partnering with Pencils of Promise and charity: water.
The Pelé Foundation will fund the two organizations’ programs dedicated to providing aid for children in poverty and increasing access to an education. The Foundation will provide Pencils of Promise with monetary support intended to improve reading fluency and comprehension in Guatemala. charity: water will be working with the Foundation to provide children in developing countries with access to clean water, reducing the amount of time that the children spend walking and waiting to collect and bring water to their families each day.
Pelé is no stranger to sport philanthropy as he is known not only for his incredible abilities as a footballer but for breaking down social barriers through charity as well. His altruism focuses mostly on organizations that support children, such Unicef and Great Ormond Street Hospital.
Even into retirement, Pelé uses his status as one of the best and most popular soccer players of all time to continually bring hope to kids in underprivileged regions of the world, areas he knows all too well as he grew up in similar conditions as a young boy. Pelé’s empathy for children in poverty drives his zealous involvement in youth empowerment and education.
Nike selected former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick as the face of its "Just Do It" campaign, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary.
Darren Rovell of ESPN reported the choice of Kaepernick, who started the movement to kneel during the United States national anthem to protest racial injustice in August 2016. Rovell said, “Nike had been paying Colin Kaepernick all along, waiting for the right moment. That moment is now, as he becomes the face of the company’s 30th anniversary of the ‘Just Do It’ campaign.” One of the first taglines in the campaign is: Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.
As Kaepernick becomes the public face of the campaign, it will be important to watch the reaction in society as Nike is a major partner of the NFL and the company holds sway at the club level. It’s too early to tell how this will impact his collusion case against the NFL, but it seems more certain than ever that his playing days are over.
Five-time Olympic medal winner, Simone Biles, made a statement in more ways than one at the U.S. Gymnastics Championship in Boston earlier this summer. She became the first woman in 24 years to be awarded the top score in every event of a national championship. She accomplished this while sending a powerful message through her decision to wear a teal leotard. Eight months in advance, Biles choose to wear teal, the symbolic color for survivors of sexual abuse, and designed her own leotard. She is among 250 athletes who have come forward to accuse former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar of sexual abuse. "I stand with all of them and I think it’s kind of special to unite (people)" she told the Associated Press. Her leotard choice served as a meaningful tribute to survivors at the event, which was the first U.S. Championships held since Nassar's conviction. This demonstrates that athletes can speak out and speak up in more ways than simply their actions or words. Biles’ leotard sent a powerful message that we are stronger together and that we will stand up for what is right.
The third NBA Africa Game was held in Pretoria, South Africa this summer. Eighteen NBA players participated in the exhibition as part of Basketball Without Borders, the NBA’s outreach program that helps promote the sport around the globe. The game was played in support of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, embodying his belief that sports have the power to inspire and change the world. Players and participants spent the week involved in basketball camps, youth leadership programs, the second NBA Africa Innovation Summit, and various community service projects for organizations such as Habitat for Humanity and Hoops for Hope.
This was deeply personal for Joel Embiid, the star center for the Philadelphia 76ers, because he was discovered at a Basketball without Borders camp in Africa in 2011. Embiid paid homage to South African icon Nelson Mandela, whose legacy, 100 years after his birth, was celebrated by the NBA.
'Madiba,' as the former president was known, was a strong advocate for the power of sport to change lives, and Embiid said that he felt it was his duty to give back in memory of Mandela, and to use his fame and wealth to help those who need it, either through the game itself, or through other charitable efforts. Embiid said of Mandela: "He did a lot of great things, which I appreciate a lot. Now me being in that position, I'm in a position where I'm able to give back. I have to give back because of the people that paved the way for us."
Embiid was a visible and enthusiastic presence throughout the trip, chatting and laughing with fellow players and the camp attendees, and was clearly having a great time, dunking on Charlotte Hornets center Bismack Biyombo, and joking around with the kids.
As for his own enjoyment of the week in Johannesburg, the 7-foot player recalled his own excitement at being allowed near NBA players when he was a 'camper' in 2011, and he's happy to give youngsters today that same fulfillment.
When asked if this week made him feel nostalgic for his own camp days, Embiid said: "Yeah, it's fun for me. I think as long as God allows me, as long as my schedule allows me, that's something I want to do every year, just come back and give back. When I was in that situation, I felt great being among NBA players. I wanted to learn from them. I wanted to touch them because I was so amazed by them.” Of course, Embiid realizes his unique story and situation and understands that there are more children like him. “I feel like we have a lot of talent, undiscovered talent, that can have a chance just like I did. They just need an opportunity.”
Eight-year-old Hailey Dawson is on a mission to become the first person to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at all 30 Major League Baseball stadiums in the US. As she travels across the country, she is determined to raise awareness for Poland syndrome, a rare birth defect that caused her to be born without three fingers on her right hand and without a right pectoral muscle. Hailey wears a 3D-printed robotic hand customized for each game thanks to the engineering team at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Her effort is also helping to raise money for UNLV to produce similar 3D hands for other patients. With her final pitch set for the Angels vs. Mariners game in Los Angeles on Sept. 16, Hailey leaves behind a nation of fans – professional athletes included – inspired by her journey.
This demonstrates that no matter how old or young, how large your stature, you can use sport as a vehicle for social change. Hailey realized how she could use sport to raise awareness and has created a movement of fans and players supporting her journey.
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton became one of the most popular figures in Buffalo after his touchdown pass helped Buffalo make the playoffs last season. The fourth-down pass eliminated the Ravens and gave the Bills their first playoff appearance in 17 years.
Immediately following the game, the Andy and Jordan Foundation, which supports children in need, was flooded with donations from Buffalo fans. Dalton said that as of this week, his foundation has received 17,000 donations for more than $450,000 that can be traced to the Buffalo area. When the Bengals visited the Buffalo Bills for a preseason game a few weeks ago, Dalton donated to the Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center in Buffalo
Bills coach Sean McDermott is touched by how fans have responded to Dalton, and also by how the Bengals quarterback is giving back to Buffalo. "What a strong moment," McDermott said. "It gives me chills just to think about it. So many times ... you get, 'Hey, this is this team and that team,' and you kind of get on your own individual islands and everyone's on their own island and team. "But what a great testament to paying it forward and what Andy and his wife have decided to do and give back to our community that gave to them."