Here in Chicago, we’re blessed with two professional baseball teams. I root for them both—yes, for me it’s Chicago against the world. But how many fans do that? Almost nobody, right? Whenever I betray my crosstown allegiance, people look at me cross-eyed.
The argument to have the logos on the jerseys is around $100 million a year. There is no other reason. A simple dollar amount that may help keep a few teams above water. For a few years anyway. But in the long run the rich teams will still be richer, and the small market teams will still be small market.
I am going to ask you to think about it in a different way. Don’t think about what the money means.
Think about what the decision itself means.
Money will come and go. Teams will make it, Teams will also lose it. in fact, they may lose a lot of it. That is the nature of money. History has shown us that there will never be enough.
Unfortunately, greed ensures us that this will forever be the case. Yes, the extra money may help ease a few bottom lines, but so would plenty of other things.
The decision will be about money. But it doesn’t have to be. What if it could mean more than that?
You have a chance to show the world that there is still hope. Hope that there can still be decisions made based on purity and integrity. Hope that some things can remain free. Hope that traditions will be honoured. Hope that not everything has a price. Hope that we can enjoy things without feeling like we are being sold something along the way.
The world is getting tired of being sold to. Tired of advertising, of TV commercials, of billboards. When we watch the NBA, MLB, NFL and NHL, witnessing athletes – doing things we can only dream of – in a uniform that has just a team name and number, we can, for a moment, escape this. We can focus on what really matters. The game, the players, the moments. Sport in America is what it is, the best in the world, because of this. Because it still retains some integrity and purity.
Because it is still just about the game.
We live in an age where there is a real danger of corporate suffocation of everything that we love. Our movies have been sold. Our music has been sold. There isn’t much left on this earth that hasn’t been sold. An audience is a commodity. We know this. We aren’t stupid. But when there is an opportunity like this, to make a real difference and stand up, not for what’s better for a hand full of owners, but what’s better for hundreds of millions of fans around the world, It’s too good to miss.
You have the chance to do something big. To say no. To make a stand and believe in the people who give you the opportunity to be where you are in the first place. Us. The fans. The people who buy tickets, hats, shirts, jerseys, bobble-heads. We want to keep it sacred. We want to keep it real. This is a chance to keep it that way.
We don’t want to watch our favourite players do amazing things while being sold something completely different. We have already bought in. We are sold on our teams, on the game, on the wins, on the sport, on the dream. You have us. Don’t sell us out.
There are many other reasons that other fans have spoken about at length. Listen to them, for these people are the ones that love the game, and will defend its integrity with a passion and intensity that burns inside every true sports fan. The fans are why this is all possible.
You have the chance to do something meaningful.
Not only for us, but for the money-driven world we live in.
“There is one and only one social responsibility of business—to increase its profits.” This quote from Milton Friedman is the centerpiece for individuals having the assertion that corporate executives, who serve as agents, only have obligations to principle shareholders. In most cases, Friedman is taken out of context. Although corporations are to increase profits, they must “engage in open and free competition without deception or fraud.” In order for a corporation to participate in the market, the business must operate under the premise of responsibility to its competition, the community, employees and the customers it relies upon. “No one would engage in a business contract with a corporation if they thought for one minute that a corporation was not responsible to pay its bills, for example. So clearly, therefore, a corporation can have legal, but also moral responsibilities” (J Friedman, 2013). The parameters surrounding the business community have changed a great deal since Milton Friedman. Consumers demand quality, employees demand a proper wage, and communities demand a company that supports regional growth. These demanders are stakeholders, the group that is often forgotten and disregarded in the pursuit of profit. In response to the changing perception of the corporation’s effect on society since Milton Friedman, business has responded by using corporate social responsibility as a tool to strengthen its relationship with shareholders and stakeholders. Research has thus proven that the best strategy for corporate social responsibility is based upon Porter and Kramer’s theory of shared value and mutually beneficial relationships.
Peter Drucker, an influential leader in the field of management science identifies between two types of corporate social responsibility in The Age of Social Transformation. Business can either do something to society or do something for society. This distinction establishes the first rule of corporate responsibility—do no harm. “If a business is not successful in satisfying that imperative, no amount of charitable giving, employee volunteerism, or creative ideas around social innovation is going to matter” (Karoff, 2012). For example, if Major League Baseball invests in supply chains that preserve the forests and trees needed to produce baseball bats, the company is not only doing no harm, it is also properly coexisting with the world. Note that in this example, Major League Baseball is attempting to use its creativity to avoid a future concern. Often, corporate responsibility only becomes a priority when the firm is required to correct a misdeed. The BP oil spill in the Gulf Coast is an example of a company that has begun to address its issues after a disaster has already occurred. Admittedly however, BP’s newfound social responsibility campaign is a good step. “Turning a negative into a positive is a very good thing indeed” (Karoff, 2012). Accountability must be a concern in order for corporate executives to proceed accordingly.
The partnership between for profit business and charitable organizations do not always operate on the same values. The corporation side of the argument has been highlighted in Milton Friedman’s essay. He correctly believed that the cloak of social responsibility is an issue. Some companies will participate in charitable processes in order to “look good whether or not the activity is worthwhile” (Schumpeter, 2013). In other instances, corporations will still be publicly ridiculed in the wake of corrective responsibility. In the aforementioned BP example, the company took a major hit in the court of public opinion even after donating to various environmental organizations. On the charity side of the issue, nonprofit organizations “are often reluctant partners, since they risk accusations of selling out.” Organizations receiving large donations from the textile industry, for example, face a conflict of interest. Accepting large funds from an industry that is known to have poor wages and working conditions creates a disconnection between the beneficiaries of charity and the companies that fund the programs.
On one end, partnerships can improve relations with regulators. For instance, “the WWF, an environmental charity, helped Coca-Cola defuse a damaging conflict in India which at one point led to the Indian Supreme Court demanding that the company hand over its exact (and still secret) formula” (Schumpeter, 2013). On the other end, companies provide the necessary money that charities need to operate. Companies can also have a greater impact on change as opposed to the charities doing the work on their own. “All that said, the benefits of partnerships will never be uniform, smooth or even very satisfying. Some alliances are well designed; many are not. Some firms are committed to the idea; some are not…but on balance they are forces for good” (Schumpeter, 2013).
In 2011, Porter and Kramer’s idea of shared value was well received by many large corporations but not everyone was convinced that this was the solution. Larry Summers, the former United States Treasury Secretary, a colleague of Porter’s at Harvard, was opposed to this concept. “Summer’s offhand comment captured the core argument at the root of corporate global governance efforts. There is a wide chasm between those who believe that corporate social responsibility and sustainability are integral to company profits and growth, and those who believe such efforts are public relations at best and a distraction from core activities at worst” (Whaley, 2013). Businesses want to know whether social responsibility adds value and profitability to a company. If the concept of shared value is to gain widespread acclaim among shareholders, the question of corporate profit must be answered. Companies in the free market economy need an incentive to provide resources that benefit stakeholders. Good will alone cannot be relied upon if one wishes to influence change.
Alice Korngold, a corporate social responsibility consultant to large firms believes that Porter’s basic ideas on mutually beneficial relationships are correct. “There is no question that companies that are the most effective in integrating sustainability in their values and strategy will be the most successful in increasing shareholder wealth,” she said in an email interview. “Businesses that are the most innovative in finding solutions to global challenges—such as climate change and energy, economic development, education, healthcare, human rights, and protecting ecosystems—will be the most profitable.” While the exact dollar amount on the value of social responsibility is not always quantifiable, the trend towards this practice has shown to produce a positive long-term effect on shareholder’s profit margins and stakeholder’s well-being. The key is for corporations to focus on causes that directly affect their own relationships. Properly quantifying data and placing a dollar amount on investments is a way to incentivize companies to push for generally accepted ideas on social responsibility.
An example of a mutually beneficial corporate and societal relationship is Major League Baseball’s (RBI) Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities Program that promotes the growth of baseball. Baseball is a sport that requires a lot of equipment, fields, large teams, and various other resources that are not readily available to America’s inner city youth. The program’s goals as stated on its website is to increase participation and interest in baseball for the under-served youth, encourage academic achievement for college ready baseball players, and teach the value of teamwork. New Balance, Majestic, Wilson, Louisville Slugger and Rawlings are all corporations that partner with the RBI program to fund the cause. This program succeeds because it is focused on the specific interest to promote baseball. Over $30 million has been allocated to the organization and more alumni of the RBI program are going to college and later being drafted to the major leagues as a result. According to Porter and Kramer, “an affirmative corporate social agenda moves from mitigating harm to reinforcing corporate strategy through social progress.” The RBI program certainly mitigates harm. It has a social agenda of promoting teamwork and academic success. It also reinforces corporate strategy by training an underutilized market, talented inner city youth, to later succeed in the sport and create profit for the firm. It is true that “the more closely tied a social issue is to a company’s business, the greater the opportunity to leverage the firm’s resources—and benefit society.”
With all things considered, the market does not always produce positive relationships between stakeholders and shareholders. However, many corporate executives have begun to believe that the only way to benefit society is to have no pressure applied to corporations. “They argue that the market will reward good deeds, so the public sector need not issue mandates. This rhetoric is appealing, but it doesn’t always line up with the facts” (Chatterji, 2013). It is ideal to have companies be socially responsible on their own, but it makes sense for the public and elected officials to make sure corporations are not causing harm to the community and also producing a social benefit.
Shared value, Porter says, points toward “a more sophisticated form of capitalism,” in which “the ability to address societal issues is integral to profit maximization instead of treated as outside the profit model.” As Steve Lohr of the New York Times infers, “good intentions cannot be brushed aside as small gestures at the margins.” It does no good to have John D. Rockefeller hand out dimes to the poor if that means he will later exploit those same people. It is important to note that the shared-value concept is not simply a moral stance of good versus evil. It is about using the market to address social concerns. General Electric incorporates a business plan that invests in technology that lowers energy and water consumption in its manufacturing. The company “generated sales of $18 billion, up from $10 billion in 2005, when the program began.” General Electric’s chief executives admitted that profit was their goal and a socially responsible practice led them to that promise. IBM is another example of a socially responsible company that has begun to promote a “Smarter Cities” initiative to track various missions such as managing traffic, public health, optimizing water use, and fighting crime. The results here have been positive as well. Without question, a corporation is obligated to first make money. Evidence has shown that profit does not have to be sacrificed with CSR initiatives. All that we ask as stakeholders is for those same corporations to do good, also.
Chatterji, A. (August 29, 2013). When Corporations Fail At Doing Good. In The New Yorker. Retrieved November 3, 2013, from http://www.newyorker.com/.
Friedman, J. (June 12, 2013). Milton Friedman Was Wrong About Corporate Social Responsibility. In The Huffington Post. Retrieved November 3, 2013, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/.
Karoff, P. (December 10, 2012). The First Rule of Corporate Social Responsibility is Not What You Think. In Stanford Social Innovation Review. Retrieved November 3, 2013, from http://www.ssireview.org/.
Lohr, S. (August 13, 2011). First, Make Money. Also, Do Good.. In The New York Times. Retrieved November 3, 2013, from http://www.nytimes.com/.
Schumpeter. (November 2, 2013). The Butterfly Effect. In The Economist . Retrieved November 3, 2013, from http://www.economist.com/.
Whaley, F. (February 20, 2013). Is corporate social responsibility profitable for companies?. In Devex Impact. Retrieved November 3, 2013, from https://www.devex.com/.
Major League Baseball and the New York Yankees have apparently heard enough public statements from Alex Rodriguez and his lawyers and have rejected 11th-hour requests for private negotiations over a potential suspension, according to media reports.
With MLB poised to levy suspensions against approximately a dozen players pertaining to performance-enhancing drug use, A-Rod has remained defiant while addressing reporters on Friday. After belting a two-run home run for the Double-A Trenton Thunder as he continued to rehabilitate a leg injury, Rodriguez not only insisted he has “a lot more fight” in him but insinuated that the Yankees may even actively working toward having his contract wiped off the books by a suspension.
“There are a lot of layers,” Rodriguez told reporters at Arm & Hammer Park on Friday. “I will say this: There is more than one party that benefits from me not ever stepping back on the field. And that’s not my teammates and it’s not the Yankee fans.”
Major League Baseball is prepared to announce suspensions Monday in the Biogenesis clinic case and has given the players involved a Sunday deadline to decide whether they will accept or appeal their suspensions, a baseball official with knowledge of the investigation told USA TODAY Sports on Friday.
MLB also has given New York Yankees star Alex Rodriguez a choice, according to a second baseball official familiar with their intentions: accept a suspension through the 2014 season or face a lifetime ban. The two officials were unauthorized to speak publicly about the situation since the talks are private.
MLB is expected to announce that at least eight players have been suspended 50 games, with virtually all of them expected to accept their penalty. Ryan Braun, the 2011 National League MVP, accepted a 65-game suspension last week. Yet, while all of the names in the Biogenesis probe are expected to be revealed, Rodriguez’s fate could remain undecided if the sides negotiate.
Milwaukee Brewers slugger Ryan Braun has joined the list of athletes who have had contracts with Nike terminated.
KeJuan Wilkins, a spokesman for the world’s largest shoe and apparel maker, acknowledged Friday that the company no longer has a relationship with Braun. The outfielder accepted a season-ending 65-game suspension imposed last week by Major League Baseball for his connection to the Biogenesis drug scandal.
Braun had been wearing Nike shoes and batting gloves for his entire seven-year major league career, and the company recently began selling “Big Bat Like Braun” and “Braun Owns Milwaukee” T-shirts in stores.
Braun has lost nearly all of his endorsement deals in the two years since he became connected to performance-enhancing drugs:
• Wisconsin-based Kwik Trip canceled its “Lunch With Ryan Braun” promotion;
• Although Wilson sold a Braun game-model glove this year, his name is no longer listed on the company’s website. A representative from Wilson could not immediately be reached;
• Braun’s deal with Muscle Milk was not renewed last year;
• Braun’s name is still on a restaurant, Ryan Braun’s Graffito, in Milwaukee. Omar Shaikh, co-owner and president of the SURG Restaurant Group, which owns the establishment, said he could not comment on the status of the relationship with Braun.
Braun isn’t the first Nike-wearing sports figure cast off by the company. Nike dropped track coach Trevor Graham due to his association with PEDs in 2006 and Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick the following year amid his funding of a dogfighting ring.
For what it’s worth, Nike re-signed Vick four years later when he returned to the NFL after serving 21 months in prison. Most recently, in May of this year, Nike cut ties with cyclist Lance Armstrong after he admitted to using PEDs.
New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez could avert a potential lifetime ban from Major League Baseball if he accepts a suspension that would prohibit him from playing until 2015, one baseball official with knowledge of the investigation told USA TODAY Sports.
The official was unauthorized to speak publicly about the situation since the talks are private.
It remains to be seen whether Rodriguez and his team of attorneys will soften their stance of no negotiations and accept a ban that would result in a 217-game penalty — if implemented Friday — and a loss of $34.5 million in salary. Rodriguez would still be due $61 million in from 2015-2017, as well as a possible $30 million in bonuses — if he averts a lifetime suspension.
At this point, Rodriguez is intent on playing this season. The Yankees announced Thursday night that he’s scheduled to play in rehab games Friday and Saturday night at Class AA Trenton (N.J.). He could be activated next week when the Yankees play against the White Sox in Chicago — if not suspended.