Professional sports have developed into a big business. As sports become more popular, so have the problems that come with industry growth. Sports leagues have had their share of problems with athletes, financially breaking even, and increased media attention.
For instance, the NBA has had it share of athletes acting non-citizen-like. In December 1997, Latrell Sprewell intentionally choked his coach, PJ Carlesimo during a practice. Sprewell, returned to practice twenty minutes later and punched Carlesimo. The NBA suspended Sprewell for the rest of the season. This incident didn't help keep the media attention positive for the league.
One way professional sports leagues have learned to increase a positive image to their publics (media, fans, community) is to start community-wide philanthropy projects. These projects, usually geared toward youth, are how teams use strategic philanthropy.
Some leagues have their own philanthropy projects. The NBA and WNBA concentrate on their Read to Achieve, and JRNBA and JRWNBA programs. The NHL focuses on combating cancer and introducing the game of hockey to diverse ethnic groups, and NFL donates money through a grant to improve the quality and safety of local school and parks football fields.
© 2002 Nancy Benton Parish