How Sports are Changing the World through Philanthropy

How Sports are Changing the World through Philanthropy

By Keith Fletcher

There is a growing interest in sports today more than any other time in our lives, and the internet has made it possible for information about sports stars and events to go viral at a rate that has never been seen before.

However, most times the information being peddled around faster are negative content ranging from a team’s negative tactics to extramarital affairs by sports stars.  What doesn’t get more publicity is the community and charity involvement of sports stars and brands.

While participating in community development programs is not new to sport stars, teams and even leagues, what seems to be new is the professionalization of their efforts by leaders in the field as they continue to find new ways to change the world through the billions of dollars that sports generates.

Today, schools have begun to offer Sports Philanthropy and related courses as a field of study and other organizations now organize events that bring together the best minds on the issue to help bring about social change through sports.

One of the biggest examples of how sports can change the world was when Olympian Joey Cheek was banned from entering China for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing because of his activities for his co-founded foundation, Team Darfur.

Team Darfur was founded to draw attention to the humanitarian crisis in Darfur Sudan, and they beamed the spotlight on China’s controversial economic ties to the government of Sudan with regards to the war-torn region of Darfur.  The Chinese who felt threatened by Cheeks presence in the games decided to revoke his visa.

Team Darfur is not the only organization where athletes come together to achieve the goal of building communities through sports.  In the NBA, NBA Cares is an initiative of the basketball’s ruling body to help use the sport and address issues in our societies ranging from education, family development, health, and wellness, among others.

The MLB, NFL, MLS, NHL, Special Olympics are other great sport outlets who are changing the world one community at a time through sports.

Sports stars involvement in Philanthropy

There are several benefits that come with being a superstar sportsman, not the least of which are a good bank account, fame, among others.  However, with these come responsibilities because as more and more people get to know you, you are gradually becoming a worldwide change agent whether you want that or not.

There have been cases where high profile celebrities have abused their position of influence in the past, but thankful a great number of them have used their position to positive effect in the society, some of them includes:

Michael Phelps

The Olympic gold medalist may be popular for winning 8 gold medals in the 2008 Olympics, but he is also a great philanthropist. Phelps took out $1 million dollars of his own money to start his foundation and continues to fund numerous causes till this day.

Russell Wilson

The Seattle Seahawk quarterback is one of the biggest stars in philanthropy. He spends so much time volunteering at the Seattle Children’s Hospital visiting kids, he is an ambassador for the Charles Ray III Diabetes Association and helps raise money for charity through his Invested with Russell initiative.


The world’s most expensive soccer player is also one of the world’s most iconic sports philanthropists.  Through his The Instituto Projeto Neymar Jr. he has helped to fight against Ebola, bring clean water to Brazil, committed plenty of free time to talking to kids, among others.

Ndamukong Suh

Former Miami Dolphins defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh may be one of the most polarizing sportsmen in the world, but he also remains a huge giver.

He gave a ridiculous $2.6 million to Nebraska in 2011 in donations, with his high school also smiling from his generosity after he donated $250,000 to them in 2013.

These are just a few examples of sports stars who are doing a good job of being involved in community development through charities.  With so many new organizations taking up new causes, sports are set to make the world an even more better place to live in the next couple of years.

Hint:  Update your social media profiles to show your involvement in charities and causes.

About Futbol Marketing Group

Futbol Marketing Group is a soccer dedicated sports marketing agency working with professional soccer teams and players throughout North and Latin America. Our three main areas of focus are: 1.) providing talent representation, as well as, offering our in-house Sports Science Specialists and Mental Conditioning Coaches 2.) offering sponsorship and hospitality packages for the corporate client and 3.) sourcing exhibition matches and events for teams. For more information, visit