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Playing Catch: As Simple as 1-2-3

ericshainock's picture

The Kansas City Royals World Series win was a win for all underdogs. Long known as a struggling franchise, the Royals turned around their fortune through their farm system, pitching, and timely hitting. While they lost the World Series in heartbreaking fashion in 2014, the team followed this up with a run to the championship and their first championship in 30 years.

On Opening Day, the team kicked off their championship defense with one of the most innovative charity events ever. "Relay the Way," is a movement where the ceremonial first pitch crosses the city from Union Station to Kauffman Stadium. The "smart ball" contained a computer that stored between 100,000 and 200,000 messages from anyone who donated $1 or more to the Urban Youth Academy. As Relay the Way states, "After it crosses home plate with the well wishes of an entire city, it will be put on display in the Royals Hall of Fame where fans can access all of the messages." This is essentially a charity time capsule that many people are familiar with from their middle school or high school days. It helps capture a moment in time and become a piece of history while raising money for a great cause.

This idea can be applied across all sports. When a college team wins a national championship, an athletic department can section off the turf or court and sell it to fans for a designated charity. In addition, an athletic department can allow fans to purchase a piece of the championship and designate what charity the money should go to,or a portion of the sales. Right now, many universities use this as an opportunity to fundraise for its department, but the power is greater if its put towards a social cause. These fundraisers help fans obtain a piece of the action while engaging them both with the hometown team as well as on a deeper level.

The most unique piece of this fundraiser is that all of the messages will be displayed in the Royals Hall of Fame. For just $1, fans will be able to see their messages immortalized as in the most venerable place that represents one of the most special moments in team history. This creative idea should catch on with all teams and become a way to give back to the community that gives so much to its teams.

Eric Shainock works for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital as an Account Representative in the Strategic Partnerships division after previously working at Intersport, a sports marketing agency. He is a 2014 graduate of the Ohio University Sports Administration Graduate Program. Feel free to reach out via email: or on Twitter: @ericshainock.


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