The Generous Giving of Professional Athletes

It seems like nowadays there are so many negative things floating around in the press regarding professional athletes.  Whether its substance abuse, domestic disputes, or marital unfaithfulness, pro athletes have been scrutinized and over-scrutinized for their off-the-field actions.  Don’t get me wrong, if pro athletes make poor decisions, they naturally should expect to be in a fish bowl.  But in this day and age of poor decisions and bad choices, what positive can we make of it?

Professional athletes and philanthropy are a combination that you’ll rarely read about in the newspaper.  Whether it is the conscious decision of a journalist to ignore it, or whether it is the athlete’s personal decision to give quietly, philanthropy in professional sports is often overlooked.  Even if we have trouble swallowing the fact that professional athletes can make up to $27.5 million per season (choke…cough…ALEXRODRIQUEZ…choke) we neglect to realize that they may actually be using that money towards something worthwhile.  So with that said, today I decided to highlight some athletes who have chosen the philanthropic road.

Lets start with David Robinson.  Most of you will remember him as an NBA basketball player for the San Antonio Spurs.  What you might not know about David Robinson is that he and his wife founded a school in San Antonio called the Carver Academy.  The Carver Academy was created to make a productive environment for children, to give them a family like setting to learn and ultimately be fed into the nation’s most competitive high schools.  To date, David and his wife have given over 11 million dollars to the Carver Academy.

Tony Hawk, professional skateboard “artist” started his own foundation in 2002.  After receiving thousands of letters from kids who had nowhere to skateboard, he decided to start a foundation that would provide funding to build skateparks around the country.  As of this year, the Tony Hawk Foundation has given over $1.5 million towards creating skate parks for kids.

 Whether or not you are sick of hearing about his memorable “play-off flip” against the Oakland A’s, or his tumble into the stands after catching a foul ball, Derek Jeter, shortstop for the New York Yankees, also has paved the way as an individual dedicated to philanthropy.  In 1996, Derek Jeter founded the Turn 2 Foundation, which focuses its efforts on “creating and supporting signature programs and activites that motivate young people to turn away from drugs and alchohol and “Turn 2″ healthy lifestyles”.  To date, the Turn 2 Foundation has awarded $8 million in grants towards children in New York City, Western Michigan, and Tampa, Florida.

These athletes are just three examples of the thousands of athletes out there who give to various charities and causes.  Let this article be a reminder to all of us sports fans that there may be a side of professional athletes that we never think of in philanthropy and giving – and maybe ultimately we will be motivated to give to similar charities.  Not only can giving help others, but it ultimately will help ourselves more than we think…



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