How Sports Ownership Groups Can Lead by Community Commitment

Successful owners recognize the importance of investing in their communities. There is a moral obligation by owners to devote resources to local areas. We know there are hundreds of franchise owners that take this obligation seriously, but we would like to recognize one group in particular for their dedication to local families. That group is Elmore Sports Group (ESG), led by David G. Elmore, otherwise known as Minor League Baseball’s 2016 “King of Baseball.”

After speaking with Elmore Sports Group (ESG) and representatives from their teams, I was able to learn about their commitment to their respective communities. The theme I consistently heard from the teams is that, although a philanthropic decision might not make financial sense, ownership and staff view the act as the right thing to do.

ESG has a team in San Bernardino, CA called the Island Empire 66ers. A big portion of their community involvement centers around promoting education throughout local schools. They accomplish this through reading programs and get their entire front office staff involved. As a prize for accomplished readers, the students are rewarded with a game-day experience. The 66ers are not the only ESG owned team that directly benefits youth education; the Idaho Falls Chukars and the Eugene Emeralds also have education-related programs in place, in addition to their other charities.

The 66ers commitment to education is just a single feature of their community relations program. The team also works tirelessly to let the public know they can be relied on to show their support. Nearly two years ago during the tragic San Bernardino terrorist act, the 66ers raised nearly $30,000 through selling “SB Strong” shirts, with 100 percent of the proceeds going to affected families.

All of the other teams ESG owns also have an impressive list of community engagement activities. For example, the San Antonio Missions and the Idaho Falls Chukers both aid in their local youth baseball leagues, either through selling sponsorship or even hosting the youth championships at their ballpark. ESG teams also hold military appreciation nights, anti-bullying rallies, hospital benefits and much more.

As we see more players looking to transition from athlete to owner, it is important they continue and expand upon the volunteering that they committed to in their playing days.

Derek Jeter has shown himself to be an excellent example of this type of sports leader. Through his Turn 2 Foundation, Jeter has influenced healthy lifestyles for youths across the country. Recently, Jeter attended the unveiling of the newly renovated Phoenix House Heartwood campus in Brandon, FL. The Turn 2 Foundation has donated over $1 million to the newly named Derek Jeter Center, an area designed to help teens and adults recover from alcohol and drug addiction, making it unique among other Phoenix Houses across the country.

Individual people or consortium do not own a team; they take on the role as facilitator, when in reality the community and fans are the true owners. Elmore Sports Group is a proven example of how to not only create a successful on-field product, but also maintain a positive impact on the local community. Current and future team owners can easily follow in their footsteps, all while catering to the needs of their neighborhood.

This article was written by Jordan Rutner, who produces the Career Services articles from Whitecap Sports for the VIKTRE Career Network.

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