Sports and Social Change
Friday, 31 January 2014 16:00

Featured Organization - MLSE Foundation

MLSE FoundationMLSE Foundation

 

ASSOCIATED SPORTS: Basketball, Football (Soccer), Ice Hockey
CAUSES SERVED: Athletics, Children & Youth, Community, Health
AGE GROUPS SERVED: Children & Youth
EMAIL: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. " target="_blank">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
WEBSITE: http://www.mlsefoundation.org


In professional sports, it’s become standard practice for teams to create a foundation that supports local initiatives, from youth sports to education, to health programs and community improvement projects. There’s a delicate balance to be struck in offering support to a wide range of important local programs while also meeting the needs of league-wide initiatives.

Add to that dynamic being in the largest and most populous city in your country, with an extremely diverse cultural and ethnic community, and a rich sports history dating back to the late 1800’s, and you have the setting for the day-to-day operations of the MLSE (Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment) Foundation. Supporting four major professional sports teams – Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto Raptors, Toronto FC, Toronto Marlies - across three different sports (hockey, basketball & soccer) is a unique challenge in the pro sports foundation landscape, and we asked the staff at MLSE Foundation to offer some insight into the work they’re doing around Ontario, how they balance the needs of each team and what’s on the schedule for the season ahead.

 

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On the eve of the World Cup last week, we were thrilled to host sports and entertainment industry professionals from around Southern California who gathered to celebrate the big event and share in their passion for soccer as a platform for social good. Along with our co-hosts Sports Studio, we welcomed supporters representing countries from around the globe including Mexico, Italy, Germany, Columbia, Argentina, Brazil and the USA, making their predictions for early exits (Spain!) and deep runs (Costa Rica?) into the knockout round.

 

World Cup Kickoff LA

Joining us on the night were several amazing nonprofit soccer organizations and social enterprise brands, each with their own unique approach to using the "beautiful game" as a platform for change...

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Blondes vs. Brunettes Flag Football benefitting the Alzheimer's AssociationKings vs Blackhawks and Heat vs Spurs have been getting all of the press recently. While those have become great sports rivalries, they have nothing on Blondes vs. Brunettes, a highly competitive rivalry that likely predates all of pro sports. And this past Saturday, that played out at the Los Angeles edition of the Blondes vs. Brunettes Flag Football Game benefitting the Alzheimer's Association California Southland Chapter.

Blondes vs. Brunettes is a volunteer-driven event that raises awareness and funds for the Alzheimer’s Association. Two teams of women – divided to reflect the age-old rivalry between blondes and brunettes – compete in a flag football game to help end Alzheimer’s. The participants also recruit coaches, announcers and other volunteers to build an atmosphere of fierce, friendly competition. Leading up to game day, the two teams participate in a series of events to socialize and increase awareness for Alzheimer’s disease. (via Alzheimer's Association)

This past weekend's game in Los Angeles is one of 35 held around the US every year, put on by various chapters of the Alzheimer's Association and spearheaded by their Young Professionals Committee. "Blondes vs. Brunettes founders Sara Allen Abbott and Ryan Triplette each had a personal connection to Alzheimer's and wanted to create an event that would raise funds for the Alzheimer's Association and generate awareness and concern about the disease among other young professionals." (via Alzheimer's Association). The games have raised over $3m since their inception with the Washington DC chapter in 2005, and the California Southland Chapter participants just added another $65,000 to that total with their recent efforts.

And mind you, this was not "Powderpuff" football as advertised - this was intense competition, with high level play calling and strategy, and some very impressive athleticism. That competitive drive was likely fueled by a very personal connection to the cause they were playing for - each player on the field had been impacted by Alzheimer's and was out there representing a family member or loved one. As any athlete knows, when you're playing for something greater than yourself, the intensity goes up and the will to win takes over.

The final result? The Brunettes raised the trophy for a 3rd straight year, and more impressively have yet to give up a point to the Blondes in all 3 games. And the Blondes are not happy about that at all. We expect this rivalry to heat up even more as they gear up for another SoCal showdown in 2015.

For more information on the Alzheimer's Association Blondes vs. Brunettes games and to find one in your city, visit http://blondesvsbrunettes.org and check out more photos from the Los Angeles event here.


2014 Blondes vs. Brunettes Flag Football Game at Fairfax HS, benefitting the Alzheimer's Association California Southland Chapter. For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/BvsB.LA

 

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Novak DjokovicBy Khalil Garriott

Novak Djokovic is a homegrown superstar revered by his fellow Serbians. He frequently gives back to his country, and it’s commonplace to hear him mention Serbia in post-match interviews after winning yet another tennis trophy.

With his homeland decimated by damage from floods, Djokovic dedicated his Italian Open victory to his native country. He put his money where his mouth is, proudly donating his entire tournament winnings – all $749,934 of them – to the relief efforts in Serbia.

Djokovic rallied to defeat rival Rafael Nadal in three sets to win his third Italian Open on Sunday, putting himself in prime position as the French Open begins May 25. When he drew a heart on the clay to show compassion for his country mates, it was clear he had more important matters than tennis on his mind.

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World Cup 2014The World Cup starts on 6/12 when hosts Brazil take on Croatia (12:30pm PST on ESPN). So to kick things off right here in Southern California, we're celebrating "World Cup Eve" on Wednesday June 11th with our World Cup Kickoff LA party! We've teamed up with our good friends at Sports Studio for a fun and social event to network with sports business and entertainment industry professionals who share in the passion and excitement for the World Cup.

Several nonprofit and social enterprise soccer orgs will be on-hand to share how they use soccer as a tool for social change, including:


Also joining us will be the LACMA exhibition "Futbol: The Beautiful Game." The exhibit examines soccer and its significance in societies around the world, and includes approximately 30 artists who work in video, photography, painting and sculpture, providing "a sense of the miraculous possibilities of the sport as a universal conversation piece." This is a must-see for soccer fans in SoCal; visit LACMA before it wraps up in late July.

 

Futbol The Beautiful Game

Food and beverages will be available for purchase and we'll have plenty of raffle prizes and give-aways throughout the night. There's a full video game arcade on-site as well as an "air soccer" table so you can show off your skills.

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Safe4Athletes

 

The upcoming film “Palo Alto” centers around a 14 year old high school girl soccer athlete, played by Emma Roberts (actual age 22), who gets romantically involved with her high school soccer coach, played by James Franco.

The trailer for this movie begins with scenes depicting the dynamics between Emma Roberts and her teammates, who are openly discussing the obvious attraction that is going on between Emma Roberts (Athlete) and James Franco (Coach). We see Emma Roberts displaying her shyness and obvious attraction for her coach as she is teased by her teammates.

The next vignette of the trailer shows a series of boys, the age of the girls, acting out of control and Robert’s frustration with their immaturity when all she wants is a loving mature boyfriend.  This sets  the stage for James Franco to make sexual advances toward Emma Roberts,  while Emma is showing open displays of frustration with boys her own age. Roberts is left vulnerable to be sexually molested by her coach as she sits in her locker alone at school as the coach approaches her. The Coach enters with the narration overlay “I’m older and I know that there aren’t a lot of good things around.” The  coach molests the 14 year old high school soccer player.

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Red Bull Wings For Life World Run

One of the biggest brands in the world, Red Bull has a knack for innovative marketing, from unique events and competitions like Flugtag and Crashed Ice, to World Record attempts and motor sports stunts. Not every brand out there can have an athlete jump from the edge of space back to earth and break the internet in the process.

And now Red Bull is putting their marketing muscle - ALL of it - behind a major campaign that culminates on May 4th with the Wings For Life World Run. This unique event will unite runners in 34 different locations around the world in a simultaneous race, all with the aim of raising awareness and funds to find cure for spinal cord injury. "There are approximately 3 million people currently living with a spinal cord injury, and each year thousands more are traumatically injured – the main cause being traffic accidents." (via Red Bull Wings For Life) In the US, races will be held in Denver, CO; Sunrise, FL; and Santa Clarita, CA (that's a 3:00am PDT start time here!).

 

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Coaches Across ContinentsI wanted to give a quick shout out to Coaches Across Continents who were recently selected to receive a 6 month pro-bono consulting package to help with their Google Ad Grants program. This was a promotion we ran earlier this year with our friends at Elite SEM who offered to provide their expertise and training to a sports nonprofit program who is actively using Google Ad Grants.

To give you a little background, Coaches Across Continents is an international nonprofit org running sports programs that address key social issues through sport including health and wellness, life skills, HIV behavior change, drug abuse, female empowerment, gender equity and conflict resolution. In 2013, they were operating in 20 countries with 51 implementing community partner programs, educating over 2,100 community coaches who impacted more than 170,000 young people.

Take a quick look....

 

Things are just getting underway with Elite SEM's consulting and we'll be reporting throughout the year on the progress of Coaches Across Continents and their Google Ads. We hope to share some best practices and valuable lessons learned along the way that can be beneficial for any organization who participates in the Google Ad Grants program.

 

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Soccer seems to be the theme right now. No surprise, as the World Cup is less than 2 months away from kick off (let's hope the stadiums are ready in time). A new spot from Coca Cola's Powerade brand debuted recently, featuring the story of an adaptive athlete, Nicolai Calabria, who is a member of the US Amputee Soccer team.

While this is not specifically a "cause marketing" campaign - there isn't a particular charity partner involved here - it is a big step to again highlight what's possible in adaptive sports and serves to raise awareness for athletes with disaibilities. I realize that wasn't the goal here - it's about Coke telling a compelling and powerful story promote Powerade - but the effect is there nonetheless. Check it out...

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Help Send the US Power Soccer Team to the White House

In the sports world, one of the rewards for winning a major championship is often a trip to the White House and a visit with the President. In fact, the World Series champion Boston Red Sox just stopped by Pennsylvania Ave this week, with veteran slugger David Ortiz even snapping a "selfie" with the Commander in Chief himself. Super Bowl winners, Stanley Cup champs, along with US Olympic AND Paralympic athletes have all had their day in DC to be recognized and celebrated.

But there is a team that has achieved major international success representing the USA - winning two straight World Championships - that has yet to receive their invitation to the White House: The United States Power Soccer team.

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