Thursday, July 08, 2010

Celebrity Charity

Oh, to make millions (or hundreds of millions in some cases) for playing a game I love. I often wonder how all that money really gets spent. A woman from Las Vegas recently won the lottery in Texas... for the fourth time. Since her first win in 1993, she has won over $20 million. Yet no one knows anything about her. She doesn't publicise herself or leverage her riches for fame. Contrast that with multi-millionaire athletes and their entourages, their mansions and fast cars.

But thankfully they do give back. Dwayne Wade bought his mom, an ordained minister, a church building. Derrek Lee started a foundation related to a retinal disease suffered by his daughter. Of course those examples are personal, and family related. Others give to their roots, inner city programs that helped them start out in life or the local communities that helped to raise them. As the ESPN article on Lee notes, we don't pick the charity, often the charity picks us.

Which brings me to LeBron James. Tonight's over-hyped made-for-TV-drama dubbed "The Decision" is going to raise money for the Boys and Girls Club of America. Jim Gray, who will be interviewing King James, was on the Dan Patrick Show this morning when this first came to my attention (not the press conference itself, how could you miss that?). He mentioned that he thought it was great (while taking credit for the idea) and that it would affect "hundreds if not thousands of kids across the country." I'm not really sure how. James' handlers had to buy the hour of air-time on ESPN and I doubt ESPN is giving up much of their advertising dollars. There's no indication this is a telethon that one can call in to pledge. If anything the hour of television (really, how long does it take to say, "I'm going to Miami"?) might raise awareness for the Boys and Girls Club. Will donations naturally follow?

There's no doubt that LeBron is set to rake in a record amount of salary- or at least close to, given the constraints of the NBA salary-cap. Would it satisfy his ego to have a generic press-conference and then donate a majority of his salary to his cause? If he is fully invested in benefiting the community, crediting the Boys and Girls Club for keeping him off the streets in his youth, then why not make it a personal cause and give as much as he can? I'm sure he gives already, but how much more money does he really need?

Of course, I can't project my morals on someone else and I don't know all the circumstances of his lifestyle and how much it costs to maintain it. But presently my family is sacrificing vacations and luxuries to get out of debt. We put aside money for months to support my church and foreign missions which just finished its big annual drive. If I could make millions doing what I love, I'd be giving millions to the causes I love. I don't need luxury. Comfort would be nice, but not required. And I would have a clear conscience giving to those in greater need. Oh, to make millions playing a game I love.

"I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength." (Philippians 4:11-13)

1 comment:

JC Dude said...

Amen Bro'...it is getting insane the amount of money sport figures are getting. Some use it for good but many are selfish.

Still, so is my heart sometimes.
Good post!