Sports and Charity: How Your Favorite Athletes Are Giving Back

In recent times, many sports leagues have undertaken a large effort to participate in philanthropies to give back to the community. Athletes come from all walks of life and understand the impact of a helping hand. Leagues not only participate in philanthropies to improve their public relations, but to also improve their community.

Some philanthropies are started by the league, NBA cares, started by the NBA, is an example of this. Some leagues adopt philanthropies as their flagship group, such as the MLB’s involved with the Boys and Girls Club of America. However, starting or participating in philanthropies is not just limited to teams and leagues. Many players also begin their own to make an even greater impact. Athletes such as Mia Hamm and Derek Jeter operate outside of their team or league to participate in philanthropies.

NBA Cares, started by NBA commissioner David Stern in 2005, is a program dedicated to both philanthropy and service. Its 5-year goal was to generate 1 million hours of community service and $100 million to charity (Source: http://www.sportsbusinessdaily.com/Journal/Issues/2010/10/20101018/Leagues-and-Governing-Bodies/NBA-Cares.aspx). By 2010, these goals were surpassed, cementing NBA Cares as a successful and charitable group. Each team participates in NBA around their local community, with players, coaches, and other personnel actively taking part.

While the NBA previously participated in Read to Achieve, they did not have a centralized program for all teams to participate in. NBA Cares acts as an overarching program, while giving individual teams autonomy to participate in their community as they see fit, as not all cities have the same concerns. Cities from New York City to Portland have different problems, and NBA Cares exists to help organize teams to tackle these issues.

NBA Cares, being a large organization, also changes its focus to varying problems as time progresses. In 2008, a major part of the program was relief for Hurricane Katrina, which ravaged the gulf coast including New Orleans, where the New Orleans Hornets are located. By pivoting their focus to pertinent concerns, it allows the NBA to make a stronger impact on an affected community. Currently, NBA Cares has changed its focus to combat childhood obesity, a growing problem that all major sports leagues are taking note of.

Some players focus on certain charities that hit close to home. Deron Williams, who plays for the Brooklyn Nets in the NBA, has taken a lead in Autism Month. Autism Month, which is in April, brings awareness to autism. Williams has a son with autism, so this cause not only helps his community, but his family as well.

“You look around the league, there are a lot of guys that are doing a lot of special things, and it’s just, it’s great,” says Williams. He is specifically partnered with a charity called Autism Speaks, which brings awareness to autism in addition to charitable donations.

“We’re in the spotlight, and people are going to see us and they’re going to want to help out and give back, so that’s really special,” Williams adds.

If you would like to know more about giving back through NBA Cares, whether it’s to donate money or participate, go to http://www.nba.com/nba_cares/ for more information and opportunities.

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One response to this post.

  1. […] first talked about sports leagues and their involvement with various charitable organizations. I focused specifically on NBA Cares, a recent effort by the NBA to participate in philanthropy or […]

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