Sports Humanitarian Team of the Year
This year, ESPN and Playstation and teaming together tor the inaugural Sports Humanitarian of the Year Awards, which will honor athletes, teams, and members of the sport industry for using sports as a platform to positively impact communities and society as a whole.
The Sports Humanitarian Team of the Year embodies a sports team as well as its community relations department/team foundation that shows how collaboration and dedication for working together can leave a positive impact on a community.
The finalists are:
1. Chicago Bulls
The Bulls’ community efforts is truly an organizational effort among the front office, players, ownership, fans, and corporate partners. Chicago has a rabid Bulls fan base and the organization feels it is imperative to give back to a city that gives so much for the team. From a team approach, the Bulls organized over 100 community events that focused on health and wellness, youth education, violence prevention (Chicago has one of the worst crime rates in America) that touched over 30,000 people throughout the city. In addition, the team’s Season of Giving reached over 15,000 people and provided over 2000 meals to families in need. This platform also includes players visiting patients and families in hospitals and adopting families for the holidays to ensure that children receive presents.
Furthermore, many of the Chicago Bulls’ players have personal foundations. For example, Pau Gasol is very involved with the Gasol Foundation that he cofounded with his brother, as well as with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Joakim Noah created Noah’s Arc Foundation, which is dedicated to helping children develop a stronger sense of self through arts and sports.
2. Portland Timbers
Stand Together is the club’s community outreach program, which is dedicated to improving the lives of children and families in the Portland area. The Portland Timbers, T2, and Thorns FC among other organizations take part in Stand Together Week, which is a week of dedicated service projects within the Portland community. According to the Portland Timbers, Stand Together Week, with the help of Hands On Greater Portland, will consist of upwards of 35 volunteer projects, benefitting more than 30 organizations focused on youth and the environment across the Portland metro area. Every day consists of 3-7 service projects and it is a total team effort as players, coaches, and ownership are all participating to make a difference in the area. Since 2011, the Timbers have given more than $2.4 million in cash and in-kind donations, grants, and other experiential activities. Since 2012, Stand Together Week has generated over 7,000 hours on more than 100 projects.
3. San Francisco 49ers
The center of the 49ers philanthropic efforts lies in the San Francisco 49ers Academy, which is a middle school for low-income students. The academy is supported with mentorship, grants, player and staff involvement, and an overall sense of ownership. Money can go a long way to help create a platform going, but relationships and buy-in from players and the team keep the effort strong. The goal of the Academy is to keep kids safe and in school. It provides stability and interaction with other children after school and creates stimulation and quality relationships. Since 1992, the Foundation has donated $30.6 million to support nonprofits.
4. WWE Community Relations
WWE is one of the most popular and most involved sports platforms with Make-A-Wish. WWE has granted over 6,000 wishes to children with life-threatening conditions and it also launched Be a STAR, an anti-bullying program to encourage young people to treat each other with respect. Over 100,000 kids, throughout all 50 states and 10o countries, have taken the pledge to end bullying. Also, WWE is a strong supporter for athletes with intellectual disabilities through its work with Special Olympics.
All of these organizations have pledged to make a difference in their communities and have raised money, awareness, and positively impacted those around them. With a spotlight firmly on them, these teams have not shied away; rather, they have stepped up to the plate to leave a legacy in the community.