A time for community

 Posted on: October 17 2016

We talk a lot about youth sports and amateur associations here—but let’s digress a bit this week and talk about how professional teams reach out to their communities.

The trigger for the discussion is this week’s Hometown Huddle project by the NFL, United Way and others. The annual Hometown Huddle is an NFL/United Way initiative that happens in all NFL markets on the same day, geared toward promoting volunteerism and creating a lasting impression in the community. This year it’s on Tuesday, October 18, when coaches and players will go to a community building, a playground or similar facility and spend the day painting, landscaping and overall making the facility one that the entire community can use.

That’s just one example of how professional teams look to give back: Besides the individual NBA teams planning events in their cities, the NBA itself has an “NBA Cares” all-star day of service; MLB teams often have community funds as a part of their organizations that will rehab baseball and softball diamonds in their region to spark the game; and the NHL regularly has its players visiting schools in their home cities (what better way to learn French than from a French-Canadian hockey player?)

Individual athletes, like the recently-retired Derek Jeter and Jeff Gordon, along with Tiger Woods, also have been active in giving back to communities—often to kids’ charities and organizations.

Intrigued by the field? Now you can get a degree in it. “The George Washington University's School of Business offers the first and only academic program in the field of sports philanthropy,” according to its website.  “The Sports Philanthropy Executive Certificate offers a ground-breaking curriculum tailored to the unique needs of those who work for professional sports teams, leagues, athlete foundations, sport-related companies with an emphasis on corporate social responsibility, nonprofits using sports for social good and those looking to enter the field.”

So as we head into the season of giving, note that a lot of your favorite teams and athletes give back to their communities all year long. Not a bad habit to have.


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