Sports and Social Change

For the past few years, we've been carrying the ball for Cause Marketing, Corporate Social Responsibility and Social Enterprise in sports. It is our firm belief that the sports industry can evolve beyond traditional philanthropy and embrace these strategies to drive business and drive change. And now there is place to learn the "X's and O's" from experts, peers and multiple industry leaders.
It's time for Business4Better.

Business4Better (B4B) is a two-day conference and expo, May 1-2, 2013 in Anaheim, CA, designed to help businesses develop the knowledge, competencies and contacts to partner with nonprofits in ways that have a substantive impact on societal causes.



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Sports and Social Work. Not words you commonly hear in the same sentence. But at one of the nation's leading collegiate sports programs, the two have become deeply connected thanks to the work of a dedicated and passionate advocate for student athletes and a committed group of students. The University of Michigan has won numerous NCAA championships and has produced a long roster of successful professional athletes. But more importantly, the athletic program has produced successful "people" through the efforts of Associate Athletic Director Greg Harden.

Harden has been at Michigan since 1986, originally working under legendary football coach Bo Schembechler and eventually taking over responsibilities across the entire spectrum of the athletic program. His role? "Total Person Development." He brings a background in Social Work and a personal history of being a collegiate athlete who followed a tumultuous path, and has a tremendous perspective on what it takes to succeed off the field and outside the classroom. We had a chance to speak with him briefly earlier this week in the run-up to the school's Social Work and Sport Association mini-conference, "Beyond the Playing Field: The Social Impact of Sport.

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"What exactly is a sports nonprofit organization?"

In developing cause marketing and corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs around sports, this is a question we run into quite often. While some people are familiar with a few well-known sports nonprofit orgs like Special Olympics or the Boys and Girls Clubs, the breadth and depth of what the programs in this space provide is truly unique. Recognizing the differences surrounding how these programs work and what type of impact they strive for are vitally important to anyone who wants to create an effective for-profit/nonprofit relationship in sports.

For those of you who come from the business side of this equation, our hope is this will provide a clearer picture of the overall sports nonprofit landscape so you can make better-informed decisions when selecting a nonprofit partner for cause marketing campaigns or broader CSR initiatives.

So what is a sports nonprofit...?

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For many in the sports community, the announcement last month from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights regarding schools' obligations to provide access to sports programs for students with disabilities was a sea-change moment, much like Title IX was for women's athletics. Inclusion has always been a core message in the disability community, and this directive presents a great leap forward to carry that theme throughout the grassroots of the sports world.

As expected, this also brought with it a myriad of questions about how these programs should be implemented, what constitutes a fair, safe and level playing field for all competitors, and what types of equipment and facilities are necessary. We've been in touch with the team at Active Policy Solutions who drafted the directive, to shed some light on these issues. As with any significant change, there are going to be a few bumps in the road. But for most athletes with disabilities, a few bumps have never stopped them from accomplishing any of their goals.

Q and A: Disability in Sport

On January 24, 2013 the Office for Civil Rights issued a Dear Colleague Letter clarifying schools’ obligations under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 to provide extracurricular athletic opportunities for students with disabilities.

This Dear Colleague Letter provides a clear roadmap for interpreting the guidance so that schools can better integrate students with disabilities into mainstream athletic programs - and create adapted programs for students with disabilities.

I. Benefits of Participation

1. Why should schools offer athletic programs to students with disabilities?

The benefits of athletic and physical education programs are equally important for students with disabilities as they are for all students. Physical activity is key in addressing the obesity epidemic that is especially problematic for individuals with disabilities, as 50% of people with disabilities do not engage in any physical activity. Participating in physical activity helps reduce obesity and prevent health problems, such as heart disease, breast cancer and debilitating stress?related illnesses like depression.

Individuals with disabilities who participate in sports have higher self-esteem, better body images and higher rates of academic success; and are more likely to graduate from high school and matriculate in college; and experience greater career success and more options.

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We are thrilled to announce our new partnership with Sterling Planet to offer environmentally responsible energy solutions for sporting events across the country, with the goal to create "carbon neutral" events for all participants and attendees.

Winner of the 2012 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Green Power Supplier of the Year Award, Sterling Planet is a sustainability pioneer and innovative supplier of renewable energy, energy efficiency and low-carbon solutions, and has become a key player in driving sustainability and responsible energy usage in the sports business through relationships with the NHL, NFL, Philadelphia Eagles, Kroenke Sports Enterprises (Pepsi Center/Denver Nuggets) and Beyond Sport.

We have partnered with Sterling Planet to offer their carbon neutral solutions to Action Sports event organizers for all types of surfing, skateboarding, snowboarding, skiing, motocross and BMX races and contests, as well as Endurance Racing events including marathons, 5K/10K races, triathlons, cycling and mountain biking events.

We believe our combined efforts will help the sports industry run events, tournaments and races that have a big impact on society and very small impact on the environment. The press release below has more information on the relationship; please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.for full details and to learn more about creating an environmentally responsible sports event.

"There are no passengers on Spaceship Earth. We are all crew."
~ Marshall McLuhan

Sterling Planet Teams Up with Sports and Social Change to Lower Environmental Impacts

Sports Industry Offered New Sustainability, Clean Energy and Carbon Avoidance Solutions

ATLANTA, GA - Sterling Planet, the nation’s leading retail provider of renewable energy and other carbon-reduction assets, announced today a unique partnership with Sports and Social Change, a cause-driven social enterprise in the sports industry. The two partners are providing clean energy and carbon avoidance solutions for sports event producers, participants and fans.

Sports are a year-round pastime for millions of Americans, whether they're playing and competing or watching and cheering. But what many may not realize is that staging all types and levels of competitions, tournaments and similar sports events in communities around the nation requires logistics, transportation and facility operation functions – and the significant consumption of energy and resources.

Sterling Planet and Sports and Social Change are working together at the grassroots level -  where sports event programming happens on a year-round, national basis - to provide verified environmental assets and help sports event organizers reduce energy-related carbon dioxide emissions from sports events. These assets include Sterling Planet's comprehensive portfolio of renewable energy certificates (RECs), carbon offsets and innovative White Tags® energy efficiency certificates.

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When we created this platform, the name "Sports and Social Change" was something that came to us pretty easily. Our entire initiative is to focus on the intersection of sports and the people, programs and events that drive positive social change. However, we realize what doesn't come easy is that change. It takes time, unwavering dedication and often great sacrifice to enact lasting change in society.


And if there's one person who embodied all of that and more - and all that we strive to do here - it is Jack Roosevelt "Jackie" Robinson.


Today, January 31st, is his birthday, and we would like to honor his landmark career and his memory.



Thank you Jackie. Your contributions to society far exceeded anything you did on the diamond. And what you did there was pretty special to begin with.

Happy Birthday Jackie Robinson. You are Sports and Social Change.

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College football has dominated the sports news recently - and not for all the right reasons. The "imaginary dead girlfriend hoax" story quickly became tabloid front-page fodder and the lead-in for almost every sports talk radio show. Even the impressive feat of Alabama's back-to-back National Championships - and third in four years - seems as if it happened a decade ago. But for many young men who recently finished their college football playing days, what stands before them is not imaginary at all - a real shot at an NFL career. And that begins with the opportunity to showcase their talents, commitment and their character in front of NFL scouts.

The NFL Players Association Collegiate Bowl brought 100 college football players to the Home Depot Center in Carson, CA (home of the MLS Cup winning LA Galaxy, speaking of back-to-back championships...), split into two teams of 50 - American Vs. National - each coached by a staff of former NFLers. Legendary Eagles & Rams head coach Dick Vermeil led one side, while his own former player with the Eagles and past head coach of the Jets & Chiefs, Herm Edwards, took the reigns of the other. And while the game was created to give the players exposure to NFL teams, a big part of the week is creating the real-world experience of preparing in an NFL setting.

“The NFL Players Association wants this to be more than just a game, they want it to be a NFL educational experience,” said Coach Vermeil. “This will be these players’ first introduction to the National Football League without the pressure of making a team in training camp. By the time they are drafted and go to training camp they will have an understanding of what’s expected of them, having worked with NFL coaches and players for a week.”

The NFLPA is very aware that life for a pro football player also happens off the field. Along with the skills and drills during the prep week, community outreach was also a part of the training for these 100 young men. On the Friday before the game, the National team left the practice field and headed out to Rogers Middle School in Long Beach, CA to hold a fitness clinic and teach kids about the benefits of physical activity, healthy eating and taking care of their body.

I followed the American team out to Lynwood, CA, a small, working class community south of Metro Los Angeles, bordering on Compton and South Gate. Their mission? To help Habitat For Humanity renovate a home for family in need.

Since 1990, Habitat For Humanity has built or renovated over 800 homes around the world through volunteer labor and donations. And to provide some perspective on what the organization does and the impact it has on people's lives, they brought one of their clients in LA to address the players beforehand. Her message of what it meant to have a "home" for her family truly resonated with everyone.

After a quick intro from the project leaders and getting fitted for hard hats, the guys were hard at work. On-field rivals in the NCAA just a few weeks ago were now working side by side to build a backyard fence, haul scrap metal, and paint walls.

And while everyone was doing their part, one player in particular really stood out. Templeton Hardy, an Offensive Lineman from Mississippi State, took charge of the cement mixer and spent his 90 minutes lifting, pouring, mixing, sweating, working and hustling - all traits a NFL scout would love to see. And when the final whistle blew on their visit, he simply chugged a cup of water and quietly walked to the bus; exhausted, but a job well done.

These young men won't be first round draft picks. Some may not be drafted at all. But in one afternoon, they were all taught a quick lesson on what it means help others in need. And as they begin their careers - be it on a football field or off - they now have a better understanding of not only what it takes to be a professional, but what it means to be a teammate, a neighbor, and a member of the community. Lessons they'll hopefully carry with them for years to come.

Check out some of our photos from the "build day" below. For the full gallery, visit us on Facebook


JJ Swain (Northern Iowa) working at the Habitat For Humanity Build Day


Templeton Hardy (Mississippi State) working at the Habitat for Humanity build day

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Fans Against Violence



ASSOCIATED SPORTS: Baseball, Basketball, Football (American), Football (Soccer), Ice Hockey, Rugby, Lacrosse
CAUSES SERVED: Community, Peace
EMAIL: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Violence: The intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against a person, or against a group or community, that either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm, maldevelopment or deprivation. (as defined by the World Health Organization)


The physical nature of contact sports like football, hockey, rugby, lacrosse is often highlighted in the media and highly revered by many. And the players on the field or in the arena fully accept that it's a part of the game they choose to play. But for sports fans at the stadium, there's been a disturbing trend - physical violence in the stands, fan against fan. While "trash-talking" has always been a part of rivalries both on and off the field, the escalation of insults turning into fisticuffs has reached a point where personal safety is now a valid concern. What were once isolated incidents have become far too commonplace. And people like Kathy Samoun have had enough.

Kathy is the founder and executive director of Fans Against Violence, a nonprofit dedicated to elimiating fan-on-fan violence, with a mission to "encourage fan safety at professional sporting events through education, discussion and partnerships with like-minded organizations." Kathy and the FAV team have quickly become the leading voice on this issue, and through in-stadium initiatives like the "FanShake" they're helping sports fans enjoy a safe, fun day at the ballpark.

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Wishing all a very happy new year - may 2013 be filled with many mistakes!


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We're honored to be a part of Conscience Cocktails, one of Los Angeles' top philanthropy event series. Every other month, Conscience Cocktails brings together Los Angeles top young professionals from across all industries and business sectors who share a passion for giving back. Each event showcases a different nonprofit organization and serves a fundraising opportunity. Conscience Cocktails is 100% volunteer run and all proceeds from the events benefit the highlighted nonprofit.

Join us in December as we celebrate the holidays and feature The Seany Foundation!

Inspired by the life of Sean Lewis Robbins, The Seany Foundation is dedicated to funding research to help find cures for pediatric cancers and to improving the quality of life for children, teens, and young adults battling cancer. For more information, visit

Conscience Cocktails Charity Mixer presents The Seany Foundation
Wednesday, December 5, 2012  7pm - 10:30pm
Daniel Matlzman Gallery
268 N. Beverly Drive
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
$50.00 incl. Open Bar, Food Stations & Tray Passed Appetizers, Live Music + DJ
Silent Auction & Raffle to be held.

To RSVP and purchase tickets (past events have sold out!) please visit:

For more information on future events visit


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