COLORADO, August 30, 2016 – San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick made news this week for his refusal to stand during the national anthem at a preseason game. He was protesting recent high-profile incidents of police brutality and racial injustice.
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder,” Kaepernick explained later.
Matt Vasilogambros, senior associate editor for The Atlantic, asked whether other NFL athletes might follow Kaepernick’s example. He reports that Philadelphia Eagles rookie linebacker Myke Tavarres said Monday he plans to sit during the national anthem in a preseason game later this week, telling ESPN that “Racial injustice is too important to ignore.”
Vasilogambros conjectured, “This is a risky move by Tavarres, who is fighting for one of the limited spots of the team . . . he hasn’t signed any major contract or endorsement deal. Kaepernick, on the other hand, has a six-year, $114 million contract.”
While some pro athletes, like Kaepernick, choose to use their celebrity status to take controversial political stands, others take action, with many pros quietly using their elite status as a platform for giving back to others.
A 2014 listing of the top 25 most charitable athletes, reveals professional athletes that don’t sit down and protest; they stand up and make a difference. These athletes, cognizant of their own good fortune choose to help the less fortunate either through their own organizations, or in ardent support of other charities.
A partial listing of these athletes charitable work follows:
25. Carmelo Anthony
Working through his own Carmelo Anthony Foundation, he provides programs and help for disadvantaged youths.
24. Eli Manning
23. Larry Fitzgerald
22. Tiger Woods
21. Nnamdi Asomugha
Through his Asomugha College Tour for Scholars, he takes youths on college tours, all expenses paid, and helps orphans and widows in Nigeria through his Orphans and Widows in Ned Foundation.
20. Charles Tillman
When Tillman’s daughter was diagnosed with a rare heart disease and received a heart transplant, Tillman founded the Charles Tillman Cornerstone Foundation to help other sick children in Chicago.
19. Tim Tebow
Tebow has the Tim Tebow Foundation which is attempting to build a hospital in the Philippines in partnership with CURE International.
18. Clayton Kershaw
Kershaw established Kershaw’s Challenge, “Striking out to Serve,” after he visited Africa during a Christian mission.
17. Serena Williams
Williams supports numerous charitable organizations including the Common Ground Foundation, Build African Schools, the Elton John AIDS Foundation, the Eva Longoria Foundation, and Hearts of Gold. She is a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador.
16. Derek Jeter
Jeter has supported Soles4Souls, Stand Up To Cancer, and the Entertainment Industry Foundation. He established the Turn 2 Foundation to help youths avoid drug and alcohol addiction and to reward academic achievement.
15. Lance Armstrong
14. Andy Roddick
Roddick founded the Andy Roddick Foundation which helps children who experience neglect, abuse or illness. He’s supported the Bryan Bros. Foundation, City Harvest, the Willow Foundation, and the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation.
13. LeBron James
James is behind the LeBron James Family Foundation helping youths through education; Wheels for Education; and the LeBron Advisory Board. He’s also supported the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, the Gabrielle’s Angel Foundation, the Children’s Defense Fund, and After-School All-Stars.
12. Albert Pujols
Pujols is the founder and chairman of The Pujols Family Foundation, an organization that helps individuals with Down syndrome, individuals living with disabilities or life threatening disabilities and families and children living in poverty in the Dominican Republic.
11. Michael Phelps
Using his $1 million bonus from the Beijing Olympics, Phelps invested it in the Michael Phelps Foundation, which promotes active lifestyles in children.
10. Brett Favre
In 2010, Favre combined his Brett Favre Fourward Foundation with his wife’s charity to create the Favre 4 Hope Foundation. The foundation has donated over $3 million to charities in Wisconsin and Favre’s native Mississippi.
9. Roger Federer
Federer has supported the Elton John AIDS Foundation, the Mines Advisory Group, the Small Steps Project, and the Humpty Dumpty Foundation. The Roger Federer Foundation fosters education and sports in locations where little funding is available. He is a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador.
8. Jeff Gordon
He established the Jeff Gordon Foundation to support children with cancer. He also established a Children’s Hospital in North Carolina. He’s supported the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Partners in Health, Soles4Souls, Athletes for Hope and the American Association of Retired Persons.
7. Andre Agassi
His Andre Agassi Foundation for Education seeks to provide educational and recreational opportunities for at-risk youths. He helped found Athletes for Hope and has contributed to Hearts of Gold, Jeff Gordon Children’s Foundation, the Small Steps Project, The Miami Project, the Tony Hawk Foundation, and Education Africa.
6. Tom Brady
Brady has supported the Entertainment Industry Foundation, KaBOOM!, the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, and Best Buddies International.
7. Alex Smith
Smith established the Alex Smith Foundation to help foster teens succeed due to scholarships. He has lobbied for changes to the child-welfare system, and partnered with Cornerstones of Care in Kansas City. His foundation was cited by the Boston Globe for giving 91% to its causes.
6. Peyton Manning
Manning established the PeyBack Foundation to help youths at risk. PeyBack has given over $10 million in a variety of programs.
3. David Beckham
Beckham established the Victoria and David Beckham Charitable Trust and Total Giving and was a founding member of the Malaria No More UK Leadership Council. He is a UNICEF ambassador and supports Help for Heroes, the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, Sport Relief, and the Red Cross among the at least 19 charitable groups the Beckham support.
2. Drew Brees
Brees established the Dream Foundation to rebuild schools and athletic facilities in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.
1. Dikembe Mutombo
Motombo founded the Dikembe Mutombo Foundation in 1997, an organization that seeks to provide help to individuals in his native nation, the Democratic Republic of Congo. He has also supported the Make-A-Wish Foundation, HOPE Worldwide, FACE Africa, the ONE Campaign, Right to Play, and UNICEF. He was also recognized as a Special Olympics Global Ambassador in 2012.
One of the biggest accomplishments of his Foundation was the construction of the Biamba Marie Mutombo Hospital in Kinasha, the Congolese capital and Mutombo’s hometown.
The foregoing brief list doesn’t even scratch the surface of charitable deeds done every day by our nation’s finest athletes. These are the individuals who deserve our respect, our attention and media coverage.