Monday, June 29, 2015 -- The inaugural Sports Humanitarian of the Year Awards, presented by ESPN and PlayStation, will celebrate and honor athletes, teams, nonprofits and members of the sports industry for using sport to serve communities and make a positive impact on society, it was announced by John Skipper, President, ESPN. The event, which will take place Tuesday, July 14 at the Conga Room at L.A. Live, will be the first of its kind, bringing together the leagues and sporting community to pay tribute to the collective good of sports.
Multiple sports-related leagues and/or governing bodies — including MLB, MLS, NBA, NFL, NHL, USOC, USTA, WNBA, WWE and the Women’s Sports Foundation — have nominated athletes, teams and community members that are using the power of sports to transform lives and uplift communities. Highlights of the evening will be featured during a 30-minute special on ESPN, July 23 at 8:30 p.m. ET.
During the event, which will be hosted by Laila Ali, winners will be announced from among the finalists for two major award categories — Sports Humanitarian of the Year and Sports Humanitarian Team of the Year. Additionally, the event will celebrate four inaugural “Stuart Scott ENSPIRE Award” (ESPN + inspire) winners, recognized for taking risks and using innovation to help the disadvantaged.
“Through their selflessness and compassion, the Sports Humanitarian of the Year Award honorees are improving lives of many around the world,” Skipper said. “The awards pay tribute to some incredible individuals and organizations and the extraordinary impact of their efforts on society.”
“Being a good neighbor and supporting our community are at the core of who the Chicago Bulls are as an organization,” said Michael Reinsdorf, Chicago Bulls President & Chief Operating Officer. “This nomination recognizes the shared commitment of our players, front office, and fans to help those in need. We are incredibly honored to be nominated, and we applaud ESPN’s decision to use their platforms to celebrate how sports can make a difference.”
"The Chicago Bulls work year round to establish deep connections and maintain strong relationships with nonprofit organizations, families and kids throughout Chicago’s neighborhoods,” said Nancy Reinsdorf, Chicago Bulls Charities President. “The work done by our players and front office staff, led by the tireless efforts of our Community Relations Department, ensures that we can achieve our long-term goal of having a positive, sustainable impact on our city."
PlayStation is the presenting sponsor of the Sports Humanitarian of the Year Awards, which will benefit the Stuart Scott Memorial Cancer Research Fund at The V Foundation — a fund that encourages cutting-edge research for minority populations suffering from cancer.
An independent panel of judges selected the finalists, including, Tracy Hoover, CEO of Points of Light, Sharon Roerty, Senior Program Officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Sab Singh, Founder of Sports Doing Good and professor at Farmingdale State College, and Caryl Stern, CEO of the US Fund for UNICEF.
“Humanitarianism is a central narrative of sport — as athletes aspire towards greatness, their ability to make a mark on society is as important as their athletic accomplishments,” said Stern. “The Sports Humanitarian of the Year Awards give rise to the increasingly important role that sports can play in society, and how the sports community can work together to build and inspire strong communities.”
SPORTS HUMANITARIAN TEAM OF THE YEAR
The Sports Humanitarian Team of the Year represents a sports team (and their community relations department or foundation) that demonstrates how teamwork between athletes and their team’s community relations or foundations can create a significant impact on a community or cause. The winner will receive a $75,000 grant (and $25,000 grant for each of the three finalists) from ESPN to the qualified charity related to the award-winning humanitarian efforts.
Finalists (winners to be announced at awards ceremony July 14):
- Chicago Bulls (NBA): The Chicago Bulls’ work in the community is a collaborative effort among the team’s players, fans, corporate partners, community partners, and front office staff. Community is a fundamental part of the team’s business operations and the Bulls feel a responsibility to give back to the city and people who give so much to them. Last year, the Bulls organized over 100 community events focused on youth education, health and wellness, violence prevention, and the military with more than 30,000 people impacted. The team’s Season of Giving alone, reached 16,000 people in the Chicago community, with 1,000 gifts and 2,200 meals provided to families in need. Additionally, the Bulls distributed $2.5 million in cash and in-kind donations in support of local organizations.
- Portland Timbers (MLS): Stand Together, the club’s community outreach platform, harnesses the power of sport to improve the lives of children and families in the Portland metro area through targeted programs, deep partnerships and philanthropic giving. Stand Together focuses on youth activity, education and the environment, with an emphasis on cultural diversity and access for all to play. Since the club’s inaugural MLS season in 2011, the Timbers have given more than $2.4 million in cash and in-kind donations, including their philanthropic work through the Portland Timbers Community Fund, the club’s field-grants program, and various experiential and charitable activities. The club’s signature Stand Together Week annually benefits 30+ different nonprofits throughout the greater Portland metro area. Since 2012, Stand Together Week has generated over 7,000 volunteer hours by 2,000 volunteers on more than 100 projects.
- San Francisco 49ers (NFL): At the heart of the 49ers philanthropic efforts is their deep commitment to the San Francisco 49ers Academy, a middle school for low-income students in the highly challenged city of East Palo Alto. The team has supported the Academy from top to bottom with grants; player, alumni, ownership and staff involvement; mentorships; and facility enhancement. Inclusive of the contributions to the 49ers Academy, since 1992, the Foundation has donated $30.6 million to support nonprofits, contributing $4.6 million in 2014, including a $1 million grant to launch the 49ers STEM Leadership Institute to enable motivated and talented young scholars to reach their full potential.
- WWE Community Relations: WWE leverages the power of its brand and platforms to help address important social issues worldwide, and through its partnerships, they support programs and initiatives that positively impact children and families around the world. WWE has granted more than 6,000 wishes to children with life-threatening medical conditions through Make-A-Wish, and launched an anti-bullying program, Be a STAR, to encourage young people to treat each other with tolerance and respect through education and grassroots initiatives. More than 100,000 kids from all 50 U.S. states and 100 countries have taken the pledge to end bullying through the program. WWE is also a strong advocate for athletes with intellectual disabilities and breast cancer awareness through their work with Special Olympics and Susan G. Komen respectively, and they are staunch supporters of the U.S. military through their annual Tribute to the Troops celebration and partnership with Hire Heroes USA to help returning vets transition to the civilian workforce.