The ESPYS have always given athletes a reason to celebrate the accomplishments of the past sports year. This year, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, and Dwyane Wade stepped forward to use the ESPYs platform to address the violence occurring across our nation.
New York City F.C. is the newest sports team in New York, and they are making a big splash in the community. New York City F.C., in conjunction with the city, Adidas and U.S. Soccer Foundation, plan to build 50 soccer fields across the five boroughs over the next five years. The goal of this partnership is to increase participation in the sport and promote health and social skills among young people in under-served neighborhoods.
Jaquiski Tartt is a safety for the San Francisco 49ers, but I doubt many people (even hardcore NFL fans) would recognize him on the street or even that he's a professional athlete. None of that matters though because Tartt is using his platform as a football player to make a difference in his hometown of Mobile, Alabama.
Corporate philanthropy isn't a new topic - organizations have written checks to non-profits or causes that it's passionate about. In today's digital and social world, there are many mediums to allow brands to target a specific audience via digital channels, while still engaging in corporate philanthropy.
In the face of tragedy and despair, sports has united communities and kept them together. When our country faced 9/11, the Boston Marathon bombings, or Hurricane Katrina, the cities impacted could distract themselves by joining together and rooting for its local team. The New York Yankees, New York Mets, Boston Red Sox and New Orleans Saints, were pillars in its community and allowed fans to forget for a few hours. The teams stood for hope, strength and healing.
This week in our GW Sport Philanthropy class, we had a current event conversation focusing on virtual reality and its use in the sport philanthropy space. Towards the end of last year, a group of 400 individuals met at the Metropolitan Museum of Art to take a trip to Ethiopia through the use of virtual reality. Over the course of a nine minute video, attendees donned Samsung Gear VR Headsets and watched as 13 year-old Selam and her family received fresh water for the first time in their lives. It was a heartbreaking video that ended in happiness as they received a basic need in life.
This past week, there were two conferences going on simultaneously: Cause Marketing Forum (CMF)and the SBJ Intersport Brand Engagement Summit. While I attended CMF, I followed along on Twitter with the Brand Engagement Summit. Both conferences are set up similarly - there are networking events at night and speaker panels throughout the day to learn best practices and trends in the industry. The following are best practices that cut across both philanthropy and sports and can be used in any industry setting:
Memorial Day is a holiday that many brands like to get involved with. Brands and teams create content in the attempt to engage with consumers; however, many times it comes across as inauthentic. In what is one of our most serious holidays on the calendar, it is a time for remembrance and thought for those that have perished protecting our country.
Sticking with the theme of philanthropy rooted in business, Warby Parker fits the bill. The organization was founded with a lofty objective: provide designer eyewear at an affordable price, while leading the way for socially conscious business.
While Warby Parker had a great business plan to maximize revenue and become a player in the glasses space, there was an underlying philanthropic reason to open its doors. On their site, they simply state: "We believe that everyone has the right to see."
Two weeks ago I listened to a keynote speech given by Dan Migala. He framed his talking points around Walter O'Malley's teachings and his visionary leadership in creating the Ohio University Sport Administration program. Ohio University recently celebrated its 50th anniversary as a program. What has separated Ohio University from the pack is its strong alumni network that dates back decades, as it has held the first-mover advantage.
On May 10, 2016, TOMS is celebrating its 10 year anniversary. To celebrate, Blake Mycoskie, TOMS founder, wants to give away 100,000 pairs of shoes to children in 10 countries. Each year, TOMS spends one day #withoutshoes to raise awareness for children's health and education. This campaign has been active for the past few years, and has made a difference in countries across the world. It is native and authentic to who TOMS is as a company. As a reference, Blake Mycoskie's Twitter bio reads: Chief Shoe Giver and Founder of TOMS. One for One.
If you talk to anyone working in the sports industry, he or she will be quick to say that what makes sports so amazing is that it's unpredictable. On the court or on the field, every game is unscripted; there could be a miracle win or a last-second loss accompanied by the emotions that come with both endings. The emotional ties here is what is indescribable. Fans and brands across the globe want to be a part of this industry as fans are extremely loyal to their teams. What drives people to spend insane amounts of money to be a part of the live-action is simple: emotions.
30 years. 30 years of providing weeklong, cost-free vacations to children with life-threatening illnesses and their families. This is what Give Kids the World Village has provided to families for the past 30 years. The story began quite simply: Amy, a little girl with leukemia, had a wish. She wanted to visit Orlando's theme parks - something that many little children wish to do. One gentleman helped to accommodate the housing, but remaining details took too long to arrange and her wish unfortunately was never granted.
Before I lived in Athens, I thought it was just a college town that would be fun to visit for a few weekends…. but it became so much more than that. It became a home away from home and my graduate program became a group of people who became my second family. We were told in December of our first year that we would help organize and execute an event named Race for a Reason.This event holds a special place in my heart because it found my passion for fundraising and community relations. This year, the event will take place on April 23rd, 2016.
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.
In college, we all have the opportunity to try new things and learn what we like and don't like both in a personal and professional setting. Those four years are an incubator for teenagers to turn them into young adults. There are more opportunities to be exposed to a variety of people and environments than at any other time in one's life.
As the quarterback during my senior year at UW-Madison, Russell Wilson was as great of a person off-the-field as he was on-the-field. He led our team to the Big Ten Championship and to the Rose Bowl that year. Two years ago, he took the Seattle Seahawks to their first NFL Championship in just his second year in the National Football League. He tied an NFL record for most touchdown passes as a rookie and has surpassed everyone’s expectations except his own. Wilson is the first to arrive each morning and one of the last to leave. He studies film and always strives to get better.
On the eve of the craziest two weeks in college basketball, it seemed only appropriate to highlight what all of these student-athletes do off of the court. While March is when stars are made and legacies are cemented on the court, these students spend up to four years creating the same legacy in their communities.
As a national organization, the NCAA has its own program called Team Works. There are multiple community programs that fall under this umbrella:
On Monday, March 7, Peyton Manning retired from the NFL. After 18 years, Manning hung up his cleats and rode off into the sunset. Throughout his career, Peyton's accolades include:
-5 NFL MVPs
-2 Super Bowl wins
-NFL comeback Player of the Year
-Single season passing records
-All time Passing Yards Records
-All time Touchdown passes records
-Tied for most wins in NFL History
-Only QB to win a Super Bowl for two teams
Each year, there are numerous sports conferences that exist to bring sport executives together for a few days to share ideas and best practices. The conference is filled with panels and speakers that either lead the conversations, share career experiences, or moderate the discussions. The real strength in a conference outside of the knowledge gained is the opportunity to network with like-minded individuals. Typically, relationships are formed at meals or at the bar at night. Sharing stories and in-depth conversations are the norm in these settings.
Disney has long been a partner of Make-A-Wish as the two organizations have worked in conjunction to grant thousands of wishes. Over the past 35 years, the relationship has touched millions of people around the world, from the children and their families, to doctors, donors, celebrities, and volunteers. Disney says it best: Each wish experience is unique - fulfilling the one true wish of the child.
They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. Sports is just that - it's a collection of experiences, memories, and pictures that create a unique opportunity to engage with fans in a stadium/arena setting. In particular, this is true when trying to connect athletes, brands, and teams within its community. In today's world of instant gratification and social media, these short videos and pictures help tell a story for thousands of fans across the country, in market and outside it.
One of the leading issues in our country and worldwide is hunger. 1 out of 6 people struggle with hunger, with many of them being children and older adults. Over the last 24 years, the Taste of the NFL has raised over $22 million for this population of people.
The Taste of the NFL has combined the NFL's greatest players and the country's top chefs to raise awareness and money in support of food banks across the country. There are three main fundraising streams:
1. On-line donations during the Kick Hunger Challenge (September - January).
If you're wondering what type of community or charitable events will occur during Super Bowl week, look no further. With the largest gathering of NFL executives, players, media, and corporations, on top of it being the 50th Super Bowl, there is sure to be major events throughout the week.
Pope Francis hopes to change the world through sports starting in 2016. According to the Sports Business Journal, Pope Francis will "make sports a focus of his papacy’s third global initiative on education, following his efforts to highlight income disparity and climate change."