Sports Can Change The World
People often ask me, “Alicia, why do you like sports so much?”
If I were to be completely honest, my love for sports comes from my realization that sports can change the world.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a sports fan. I’ve never been big on following stats or looking at the intricacies of plays. Rather, I’ve always watched sports to see the stories of human perseverance that unfold on a court or field. These stories speak to me in a way that nothing else in my life has.
I’m blessed in the sense that I’ve been able to make my passion my job. I’ve made it an emphasis of my sports writing career to highlight stories of athletes, teams and leagues giving back to their communities. Why have I made this an emphasis? Simple: Because nobody else is really doing it. These stories need to be told.
Since I launched RulingSports.com on July 1, 2011, I’ve had the great opportunity to interview hundreds of people to find out how sports changed their world. More interesting to me, though, is finding out how these people are using sports to change the worlds they live in.
The first athlete I interviewed in my career was Rafer Johnson, the 1960 Olympic decathlon gold medalist. Rafer, who is African-American, grew up in a segregated Texas. It wasn’t until his family moved to California that he was given the opportunities in sports that would build him into one of the greatest athletes in history.
On a summer day in 2011 when I sat down to interview Rafer in Manhattan Beach, CA, we not only talked about his impressive athletic feats, but how he had used sports to give back to others. A close friend of the Kennedy family, Rafer was one of the founding members of the California chapter of Special Olympics. At 78-years-old, he is still heavily involved in the organization.
When asked why he’s still involved in Special Olympics, Rafer said to me, “I’ll always be involved with the program, because I came up as a youngster in a very small town in California and that’s what I think provided the basis for the rest of my career: that somebody helped me be the best that I could be.” Sports changed Rafer’s world. And now, through sports, he’s changing the worlds of others.
What if we all could use sports to help others become the best they could be? How different might our world look?
This holiday season, I want to introduce you to six amazing sports nonprofit organizations who through sports, are changing the worlds of others. To learn more about each organization, click on the link below:
In getting to know these organizations, I was blown away by how much they are able to accomplish on very limited budgets. Learning this fact got me thinking: How many more peoples’ worlds could these organizations change if they had more money?
Whenever I write a story about athletes, teams or leagues giving back, there is one question I always ask: “In your role in sports, do you have an obligation to use your platform to help others?”
The answer I receive to this question, while worded differently, always reaches the same point: YES.
And this holiday season, it is my obligation to see to it that these organizations have the resources they need to keep changing the world.
To help the six organizations above, I have organized the Sports Can Change The World campaign. The campaign has several components. It is my hope that each of you will find at lease one way to become involved in the campaign.
1. T-Shirt sales: To raise funds, I have created a t-shirt campaign. The t-shirts cost $20 with a $5 shipping cost and will arrive by Christmas. They come in adult and youth sizes and are printed on very, very soft t-shirts. All profits from sales of the Sports Can Change The World t-shirt will benefit one of the organizations listed above. You can purchase your shirts between now and 11;59 p.m. ET on December 9 by clicking here.
2. Social media: In order for the Sports Can Change The World campaign to make the biggest impact, word needs to get out about it. Will you share this link with your friends so they can learn about these great organizations? Will you post the link to the t-shirt campaign on Facebook? Can you tweet about how sports have changed your life or upload a picture on Instagram depicting how they have? Be sure to use the hashtag #Sports4Good, so we can show just how many worlds sports have changed!
3. Voting: As mentioned above, one organization will receive the profits from sales of the Sports Can Change The World t-shirt. That organization is the one that receives the most votes between now and 11:59 p.m. on December 9. After clicking on the links above to learn what each organization does, cast your vote on the poll at the bottom of this post. Voting runs between now and 11:59 p.m. ET on December 9.
Sports can change the world. Will you support the Sports Can Change The World campaign this holiday season to change the worlds of those in our communities?