MLB Hands Out Rounds of Grants

Major League Baseball (MLB) has been considered America’s pastime for well over a hundred years. At this point in American life for over a century, the start of May, the league is just getting into full swing, about 30 games into a season of 160 games. However, back in early March, MLB decided to cancel all of their spring training and spring games altogether, with news shortly following that they would indefinitely cancel the entire 2020 season due to Covid-19 concerns. Though they’ve still been active as a league, just recently announcing that they would be awarding grant money to 10 separate organizations.

To be clear, the novel coronavirus didn’t suddenly urge MLB to be generous. This was actually planned by the organization last year, in conjunction with their Players’ Union (MLBPA), to hand out grand money to a range of nonprofits dealing in mental health, domestic violence, underprivileged children, and more. The grant money would total over $3 million before it’s done. The pandemic just upped the time table here for the release of the money.

Each nonprofit chosen will receive $500,000 in grant money. While it doesn’t seem like a lot from a league that’s worth billions of dollars, it’s important to understand that this is operational money that’s coming directly out of people’s pockets, so it’s not as if there’s some large community contract pot within such a sporting organization that’s just overflowing with money. This money is responsible only due to the generosity of individuals involved in MLB who are chipping in to fill the coffers.

Some of the 10 recipients of the money include: The House of Ruth; the Houston Area Women’s Center; Sanctuary for Families, Jeanne Geiger Crisis Center, Lutheran Settlement House, and more.

One very important thing to note here is that this decision was thought up and executed by the MLBPA. The Players’ Association has for years fought for larger contracts and more rights within the MLB as players. It’s a very large step for the union to come together to do charitable works in any organization. It is certainly not a requirement, and at this point in the big-money world of sports, most do not even expect it. So the MLBPA is doing something very good and selfless here. It’s not a ploy to sell tickets; they’re not even playing baseball, and may not play again until next year. It’s to help people suffering in the communities these players still call home.

Billion Dollar Leagues Giving Back

There’s not exactly a long history of leagues themselves giving back to the communities in which they operate. Now, of course, one can look at the MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL and other big leagues and find dozens and dozens of wealthy individual players who have their own charities and who do their own community works. However, when it comes to leagues as a brand, especially the players’ unions within these leagues, it’s exceedingly rare that they ever push for anything other than union-based rights and privileges for their players. So this is something that we don’t always see, and likely will not see too much of from other leagues.

In other words, don’t expect to see a string of major sporting leagues just giving back as brands. The trend of rich athletes doing a lot of good will likely continue, especially in these tough times, but leagues don’t generally donate on the level that one could call it social engineering or effecting change.

One good thing that will come out of these grants is that it will ironically take some of the pressure off of the MLB to make a decision on their season. What a lot of people don’t understand is that there are hundreds of thousands of people out there who are invested as season ticket holders for their favorite teams. And in markets like LA, Boston and New York, they’re paying a ridiculous amount of money for this privilege. No word has been released yet on if those people have been refunded their money, or even if they’re seeking refunds. It could very well be that they’re hoping to hold onto those tickets in the expectation the season will eventually start.

Though as long as the MLB is involved in the charity world, their name stays out of sporting news, which means far fewer rabid fans attempting to pressure the league into starting. For right now, the MLB is busy trying to help needful organizations, and that’s a good thing.

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