Sunday, December 22, 2013

Coaching Athletes to be Social Sector Leaders

Today's Chicago Tribune sports section included a feature showing how nearly half of 79 charities started by Chicago athletes in the past decade "were dissolved, no longer are operating, or have shown no signs of recent activity."

Between 2008 and 2011 the lead coordinator of the Cabrini Connections tutor/mentor program was a former Northwestern University football player. I encouraged him to write blog articles comparing the tutor/mentor program and support infrastructure to the organizational structure of successful football teams. Here's one of those articles.

I've posted a series of articles on this blog, showing how athletes and other celebrities could use their visibility to educate others on ways to make high quality tutor/mentor programs available in more places. Below is an article created a few years ago to illustrate how athletes can go beyond supporting a single program, to supporting the growth of many high quality programs in an entire city.

Tips for Athletes Using Visibility to Support Youth Mentoring by Daniel F. Bassill

This process needs to be coached, starting when future stars are in middle school and high school. It can be part of formal service learning, or part of the sports team structure itself. Here are some concepts that need to be taught:

How can you transfer knowledge of the work and discipline needed to become great at any profession? Sports stars know how hard they worked to achieve their dreams. How can they support organizations that pass on these habits to youth, who will be stars in many professions, not just sports.

How can you transfer knowledge of what it takes to build and sustain a successful sports franchise to what it takes to build and sustain a successful social benefit organization? What are all the things that need to be happening if non-school youth serving organization are to be available in all places where kids need extra help moving from birth to work?

What are the roles and responsibilities of successful people? It does not matter if they are athletes, or hedge fund managers. How can they learn to use their visibility, and their wealth, to engage fans in this conversation and to build a system that provides a consistent flow of talent, dollars and other needed resources (including ideas) to all of the places in a geographic region where such help is needed?

As you celebrate the holidays and begin to make your New Year's Resolutions, I encourage you to think of how you could take a role in coaching this process so that in a few years a story by the Tribune might talk about the impact athletes have been making, rather the bad results that have come from good intentions.

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