So many conversations of the last year, and certainly beyond, have focused on huge dollar figures that go along with professional sports and their high-paid, spoiled athletes.
During this past week, players from across the professional sports spectrum who are often portrayed as being little more than indulgent have shown quite the opposite personas. They have let their checkbooks act as their PR agents but most importantly, have proven that humanity comes first. The devastation of the 7.0 Earthquake that hit Haiti on January 12 was on the world’s minds and many who could afford to help, have done so.
Among the most impressive was a quickly planned fundraiser for which World No. 1 tennis player, Roger Federer, rallied with tournament organizers to stage an event on the eve of the Australian Open. Federer is credited for sidelining his own tournament preparation schedule, and gathering a roster of tennis stars that did the same, including Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Andy Roddick, Kim Clijsters and Serena Williams to entertain fans. Along with proceeds from $10 tickets purchased by fans that attended the event at Rod Laver Arena, the pros raised more than $200,000 for earthquake victims.
Another spectacular effort was the result of the “Athletes Relief Fund for Haiti” co-founded by retired NBA standout, Alonzo Mourning, and Miami Heat star, Dwayne Wade. The fund raising project has received donations from at least 27 professional athletes including Wade, who donated a one-game salary of $175,000, and LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Chris Paul who each poured in $100,000. The fund has amassed more than $800,000.
The National Football League and the NFL Players Association pledged $2.5 million to aid relief efforts, and some of its players went a step further and helped drive donations via their Twitter accounts. New England Patriots receiver, DonteStallworth pledged to donate $1 to Project Medishare and was joined by teammate Wes Welker and Cleveland Browns receiver, Josh Cribbs to raise $34,200 for the emergency relief fund.
Among Major League Baseball’s efforts, the New York Yankees announced a $500,000 contribution to Haiti relief, with other players and clubs following with their own programs. The league itself pledged an immediate donation of $1million.
I know I’m just touching the edge of the great ways athletes and professional organizations have stepped up to help provide medical, food and other relief aid to an already poor neighbor of the United States. Personally, I’m proud to be able to write not of sports public relations challenges this week, but of a victory that is not only publicly appealing, but humanely admirable.