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A Team Effort: Disaster Relief Across the Sports Industry

Photo credit: Yahoo! Sports via SoonerSports.com

Photo credit: Yahoo! Sports via SoonerSports.com

Teamwork and solidarity are inherent character traits that define the world of sports.  From the merchandisers to the front office to the playing field, “it takes a village” to fuel the success of this dynamic industry.  And when disaster strikes, the need for coordinated teamwork is critical.  Over the last few years, we have witness the tremendous capacity for teams, leagues and outfitters to come together in response to disasters at home and abroad.

Following the 2010 devastation in Haiti, the NBA responded at all levels.  The NBA, Players Association, all 30 teams and individual players teamed up to raise more than $3 million in relief aid, and even more awareness through PSAs and social media campaigns.  Monetary contributions were augmented with apparent and footwear donations through collaborations with local and national nonprofit organizations such as UNICEF and Samaritan’s Feet, and home court arenas like American Airlines Arena in Miami, hosted in-arena donation drives to engage the community in support for Haiti’s restoration.

In responses to the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, Under Armour was instrumental in contributing to relief efforts, donating over $1.75 million in UA product and 100% of proceeds generated from specially designed, limited edition Japan Relief T’s, totaling more than $82,000.  Here at home, UA rallied some of its NFL athletes in partnership with the Red Cross to visit the communities of Birmingham and Tuscaloosa to distribute more than 17,000 units of UA product, footwear and accessories following the devastating Alabama tornado in May 2011.

Just as the industry has come together to lend support in past crises, the resounding support of the Oklahoma community that has come from this sector in the wake of last week’s tornado has been indicative of the team spirit and unity that marks this industry.  The Kevin Durant, the Oklahoma City Thunder, the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association gave matching $1 million grants to aid the families and communities victimized by last week’s tornado.  KD also spurred Nike to match his $1 million gift, in addition to donating profits from his Oklahoma City KD V Elite sneakers.  At the college level, Oklahoma schools Oklahoma State, University of Oklahoma and Tulsa have teamed up to create and sell “OKTOGETHER” tees to raise money for relief aid.

The ability of sports industry players and partners at all levels to mobilize in times of dire need is a positive reflection of the heart of the industry.  Each facet that jointly makes up one of the most influential business sectors in the world has demonstrated a commitment to the team- the team of community; the team of humanity.  That commitment speaks volumes of the character of the industry and exemplifies true team spirit.

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