Sorry for the hiatus- I’ve spent the past few months traveling and unfortunately my writing has fallen on the back burner. However, with the NBA All Star Game having just been played last night, I wanted to expand this blog from being more than just best practices to one that focuses on what teams, leagues, and charitable organizations are doing in the space. Thus, it only makes sense to continue with a basketball centric feel and talk about NBA Cares.
NBA Cares is the league’s global community outreach initiative that addresses important social issues throughout the world such as education, youth and family development, and health and wellness. The first thing to note here is that it is a global initiative- why you may ask? This is because the NBA is the most global sport out of the Big 4. The NBA impacts people worldwide and so its mission makes sure to help out in areas where it has fans. Since October 2005 when NBA Cares launched, the league and teams have raised over $230 million for charity, provided more than 2.8 million hours of hands-on service, and built more than 860 places where kids and families can live, learn or play in communities around the world.
As a league initiative, there are full-time staff that work on the NBA’s social responsibility and outreach programs. These people work on leveraging the popularity of the sport and its assets to provide support to league social responsibility initiatives.There are multiple programs under the NBA Cares “umbrella” to help fulfill each initiative. The following five programs are the one’s the NBA highlights among all of them:
- NBA/WNBA Fit
-This program helps to encourage a healthy living style and physical activity for children and families at a young age.
- NBA Green
-In today’s world, the NBA is taking steps to make all of its processes from the league and team level more environmentally friendly. This includes internal and external processes as well as its product in-arena.
- NBA Cares Hoops for Troops
-The NBA is actively involved in supporting active and retired service members. Current and former military are honored during games and families are given tickets to games and teams are able to do meet & greets with Wounded Warriors.
- Community Assist
-The league presents this award to one player who best demonstrates a desire to give back off the court and make his community a better place.
- Basketball without Borders
-This initiative is a global basketball development program to allow youth to train under NBA coaches and learn from the best players.
One of the NBA’s programs that hold a special place in my heart is Hoops for St. Jude, a season-long fundraising program benefitting St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. For one week, league players, coaches, and basketball fans help raise awareness and funds for St. Jude. Fans can do their part by attending a game in their local community that week, helping spread the word via social media, or making a donation to the hospital. Throughout the week, coaches wear Hoops for St. Jude lapel pin to show their support. In addition, NBA stars donate autographed items to help raise funds. This is all complemented by media support through TNT and NBA TV to help shed light through broadcast. This demonstrates the power we all have when we come together as fans, players, and teams to shed light on an issue.
Sports are a powerful platform for social issues to come to light. NBA players and athletes of all type have a voice that can be amplified due to the popularity of sports in our society. As a result, the dollars raised increased incrementally and the impact is felt across the world. No longer is this just a “feel good story;” with the power of the media and social avenues, we have the ability to play our role just like the NBA does with its NBA Cares initiatives.
As always, if you have any ideas or comments, please feel free to leave them here.
Eric Shainock is an Assistant Account Executive at Intersport. Feel free to reach out to him on Twitter: ericshainock.