Sports Organizations and Community Service

by : Grant Eckert

The relationship between sports organizations and community service exists on at least two different levels: team activities and individual activities. The players may be asked to take part in various activities as a club; such activities would typically be accompanied by extensive publicity with cameras rolling. In addition, players may be asked to individually participate in activities to benefit the community as a whole. In each of these situations, the players may be pressured to be part of the community service, or they may choose to truly volunteer, either as a group or as individuals. In this instance, there may be less publicity.

Team Participation

Team participation in a particular community service project usually involves lots of publicity and may even be undertaken with the intent of convincing other members of the community to participate in the project. The team may appear at a rally to raise funds for a community center, or may take part in a drive to collect funds for Christmas gifts. Usually, the community service activity is a project that will benefit either the entire community or some segment of the community. The star power of the team is utilized to persuade others to join in physically or financially. During a fund raising drive for a community playground, for example, the players of a team may man the telephones to collect pledges, or sign autographs for fans in return for a donation. Although it is a team sanctioned event, the entire team may not always appear at every event.

Individual participation

Another type of relationship between sports organizations and community services is less formal. A team member may choose to participate individually in a particular community service project, simply because he or she believes in the project. This participation may be a matter of spending a few hours each week as a basketball coach at the local community center or Boys and Girls Club. The team member may choose to volunteer at a Blind Camp or as a Big Brother or Big Sister. In this instance, there is likely to be less publicity. In fact, the player may shun publicity for the project. This type of assistance can be either physical or financial. It can even be a matter of anonymous assistance, simply because the need is there and the player wants the attention focused on the need rather than on him or herself.

Financial Assistance

There is little doubt that sports figures are paid some of the highest salaries in the world today. It is for that reason that many in society assume that because players earn more money, they should also be more willing to contribute money toward the general welfare. The difficulty with this way of thinking is that each supplicant looking for help for a community or personal project believes that their pet project is of highest importance. Rarely is there any recognition that the player may have their own schedule of priorities that may not include financial assistance to individuals or community service projects. For sports stars and movie stars alike, there is some perception that since the public is responsible for the stardom, the public has the right to demand financial assistance from the sports star.

Training and educational volunteer

Often a player may feel they get more personal satisfaction from volunteering their own time for a community service activity. They may be fully capable of hiring someone to do the physical part project for them, but choose instead to actively, physically and emotionally participate in the planning or implementation of the project. In this instance, the only reason publicity is sought is for the good it will do the project itself. A surprising number of sports personalities choose to volunteer their time and energy in this way for the good of the community.


Among those sports organizations that value the importance of publicity for the team, there can be a great deal of pressure upon team members to take part in publicity type community service projects. This can be to publicize the good citizen aspects of the team, or can even be a pet project of the team administration, owner or manager. Although the organizers of the community service project are usually happy to get any possible publicity for their project, in fact, the sports organization may be just as interested in fostering good publicity for the team because of the community service activities. The more fans that are happy with the team means more attendance at games which in turn can mean more revenue for the team.