It is imperative that sports organizations recognize the importance of giving back to their communities. Although professional sports is first and foremost a business, teams have a unique corporate social responsibility to champion causes that have a beneficial and useful impact.
What is Corporate Social Responsibility?
CSR is epitomized by three themes. First, organizations that embrace their CSR, and ensure that their fans, sponsors, and media personalities are well-informed, maintain a positive reputation. Second, organizational managers align initiatives with stakeholder expectations and values. And third, social issues are at the heart of CSR endeavors.
The New York Yankees exemplify an exceptional commitment to social responsibility. The Yankees’ HOPE Week initiative is one of the most successful and respected programs across pro sports. Launched in 2009, HOPE Week brings players, coaches, and front office staff to the forefront of the team’s efforts to recognize actions of goodwill in the community.
HOPE Week Keeps the Yankees Winning Off-the Field
With every rostered Yankee player participating in the program each year, celebrated families and individuals are able to establish a personal connection. Although HOPE Week is officially recognized for one week during the summer, it has evolved into a year-round Yankee effort to demonstrate that anyone, at any time, can make a difference. The core objective of HOPE Week is to give individuals who have devoted themselves to their community and local charities a national platform to share their stories.
Experiences of a Lifetime
In recent HOPE Weeks, the Yankees have partnered with local hospitals, sponsored a book drive, and honored children with physical disabilities.
2014 saw several Yankees visit Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital where they teamed with Musicians on Call, an organization that provides live music in hospitals.
In 2016, the Yankees united with Barbershop Books, an organization started by Alvin Irby that creates reading safe havens for children of color. Irby was also presented with a check of $10,000.
In 2017, six Yankees and manager Joe Girardi surprised One Step Ahead founder Amy Palmeiro-Winters and nine-year-old Kristofer Robinson at the USA Track and Field Hall of Fame, and the Yankees paid for all medical expenses for Robinson’s new prosthetic leg.
Last year’s HOPE Week made national headlines when a long-time Yankee fan finally got to live out her dream. Gwen Goldman dreamed about being a bat girl for the mighty Yankees during the 1960s. But the barriers preventing women from taking a small part in the National Pastime were still standing in the way, leaving Goldman’s wish unfulfilled.
However, the 70-year-old Goldman’s dream finally came true. She was given the opportunity to be the bat girl for the Yankees during their game against the Los Angeles Angels. Goldman got to experience a day in the life of a Yankee, spending the day with the team, donning the Yankee pinstripes, and throwing out the game’s first pitch.
“From walking in the front door of the stadium at Gate 2, to coming up to a locker with my name on it that said ‘Gwen Goldman’ and suiting up, then walking out onto the field, it took my breath away,” Goldman said. “It’s obviously taking my words away also. It was a thrill of a lifetime – times a million.”
The 13th HOPE Week will take place in New York from July 11-July 15. It will begin during the Yankees series against the Cincinnati Reds and conclude during the first game of a three-game-set against the Boston Red Sox.
Other than a hopeful appearance in the World Series, HOPE Week is the most important week during the Yankees season. It is a shining example of a team’s strategic devotion to emphasizing the power of giving back.