Sports for Good—How Players are Making a Lasting Impact

Like most in my generation (Gen X), I don’t watch much television. Yet in March and April I can’t seem to unglue my eyes from the screen.

That’s because The Masters Golf Tournament is right around the corner in early April, and March Madness is coming to an end. But it’s not all about sports; I’m excited about the ways that these sports use their platform for good. Both NCAA basketball and the PGA tour are dedicated to making a difference by using their money, people and clout to make a lasting impact. Let’s talk about how they’re doing it.

College Basketball

Avery Harriman had been diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia twice had already undergone a bone marrow transplant by the age of six. The young Nebraskan is the son of a University of Nebraska basketball assistant coach, which quickly catalyzed the relationship between Avery and the Nebraska basketball team.

No, the Huskers didn’t make it to the Big Dance; but every year the Nebraska Basketball team dedicates a day where fans, teammates and coaching staff all wear the iconic yellow #AveryStrong shirts to raise awareness not just for Avery, but for thousands like him with the need for a bone marrow transplant. The initiative is also an effort to enable more people to sign up for the national bone marrow registry. It took over 4,000 tests before they found one match for Avery’s bone marrow transplant.

Avery has become a little brother to not only the Nebraska basketball team, but surely the student section and perhaps the entire state of Nebraska.

In a similar fashion, Lacey Holsworth was an 8-year-old cancer patient who became special friends with Michigan State University basketball player Adreian Payne. Holsworth and Payne met when she was visited by the Spartans in the hospital about four years ago.

Payne carried Holsworth around the court at the Senior Night basketball game, included her in one of his dunks in the college dunk contest and even had her join him on the ladder to cut the net after winning the Big Ten Tournament in 2014.

About a month later, Adreian Payne’s biggest fan, Lacey Holsworth died. Lacey’s mom was quoted in an interview with the Associated Press saying that Lacey, “loved unconditionally and without hesitation, spreading her smile and love throughout the world.” Payne’s involvement in Lacey Holsworth’s life made a huge impact, not just on one little girl’s life but on bringing awareness and action to a greater issue.

The PGA Tour

The Professional Golf Association is a large organization dedicated to doing good. The PGA  has more than a few touring pros who make several million dollars per year. Almost all of them have a foundation or nonprofit, or they donate several thousand dollars per year. Plus, there are a handful of tournaments each year dedicated fully to charitable giving and raising awareness for specific causes.

Phil Mickelson has always been one of the nice guys on the tour, from the way he treats fans to the way he talks to his ball after he hits it. Mickelson’s wife and mother were diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009. Since before beating cancer, Phil and Amy Mickelson have taken part in countless benefit events and fundraisers for breast cancer awareness and research as well as the Phil and Amy Mickelson Charitable Foundation which mainly benefits youth development and cancer research.

Adam Scott is another prime example of a touring pro using his means for the greater good. Not unlike other PGA Tour Professionals, he alone has started the Adam Scott foundation which has funded three others in addition. Scott’s foundations are mainly dedicated to helping youth in Australia and Asia by providing education, guidance, scholarships. Also, it supports youth in the Royal Children’s Hospital in Australia.

Ultimately, everyone has a platform—it’s just about finding it and using it to the best of your ability to make a difference in the world. Whether it’s your 500 followers on Instagram or the community of people around you who know you on a first-name basis. Your organization can find people like this to get excited about your mission by volunteering, donating and becoming a mouthpiece to catalyze your mission.

sports for good

Nick Small

With specialties in content strategy and creation, social media engagement and digital marketing optimization, Nick brings a depth of experience in nonprofit marketing. He’s also helped hundreds of nonprofits with their online presence to improve donor retention and attract new audiences, and he still has time for a good glass of whiskey, round of golf or new adventure.

April 1, 2016

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