During the course of the holiday season, news is filled with teams doing great things off the field/court. Starting at Thanksgiving, players deliver turkeys to needy families, hospital visits are made to children, staff members collect presents to give to needy families, and we all work hard for this year-end ‘feel good.’ Everyone tries to come up with that unique idea that is both newsworthy and useful. It’s a great month! However, there are 11 more to consider.
What is the social responsibility of our teams? Yes, they need to put the best product they can on the court/field/ice. They should be financially reasonable for fans to attend. They should be of great service to their clients. But again, what is our social responsibility?
How many of us have facilities that were paid for (either all or in part) with community support? How many have undergone renovations with the communities financial support? How many have reading programs but don’t offer books? How many give with the appreciation of its community vs giving for the recognition it brings us?
I am a huge believer that teams have a social responsibility to ‘give back’ to their communities. As a prime example, look at the Philadelphia 76ers and the support they give to their community. From the toys they donate to a family shelter to sleeping outdoors, to experience and raise funds for the homeless to their investment in youth, to the staff each donating 76 hours of their time to community service, helping create Meals of Hope, mentoring at schools, cleaning up their community, and the list goes on. There is a committment by this organization to try to put the best product on the court, but just as important, try to put the best product in the community – their heart.
Teams try year after year to get recognition in the community, convince companies and fans that they want to ‘partner’ with them, yet it tends to be a one way street. When you look at a team like the 76ers, they are not talking the talk…they are walking the walk. They know what partnering really means. As a sports organization, we have a tremendous platform that gives us such a great opportunity to be more than a sports team in town. We talk about the importance of kids playing sports – it builds character, teaches teamwork, helps them focus, helps them learn the value of working together, etc. Why don’t we carry this through in professional sports? Why don’t we, as an organization, show our respect and understanding of our committment to our communities by giving/doing year round?
The best presents are from the heart. What is the heart of your sports organization doing throughout the year? Everyone – from the cleaners to the CEO – should be able to share their heart throughout the year and work side by side to make a difference. The gift of money is always helpful, but the gift of time is from the heart.
The 76ers may not have won the NBA title for this year. But they won something far greater…the hearts of their community. It’s not a surprise the awards and appreciation that have been showered on this organization. They are walking the walk.
May you all have a wonderful holiday and make a true committment to be part of your communities next year. May we all do more than ‘talking the talk.’ ‘Walking the walk’ should be a focus for all of us this upcoming year.
Kathy Burrows, Sold Out Seating
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