Milton Freidman’s article regarding the corporation’s social responsibility has been the most intriguing article I’ve read in this class all semester. I agree with it on many levels, but also keep finding good arguments against it, as we have discussed in class. I decided to dig a little deeper on Google Scholar, seeing which articles, specifically about sports, had cited Friedman. 367 articles had popped up as articles about or including sports that had also cited Freidman, but many past the first page only mentioned sports in passing and was not going to be useful. The second article that was listed was unavailable to view, so I clicked on a link that gave me related articles. After browsing for a few minutes, I came upon an article from the Journal of Business Ethics published by Hela Sheth and Kathy Babiak, called “Beyond the Game: Perceptions and Practices of Corporate Social Responsibility in the Professional Sport Industry.” This was perfect, and it even cited both Friedman and Freeman.
The article examines the growing importance of corporate social responsibility, or CSR, and explains that it is being included as a necessary function in businesses to gain a strategic advantage, and/or portray a CEO and other top managers’ values to be altruistic, among other advantages for the corporation. This sets the stage for talking about sports, and how little research has been done regarding CSR and sports. However, due to somewhat recent events and changes in the industry, CSR could be imperative to the success of professional sports leagues. For instance, the article talks about the National Basketball Association (NBA), and one of its programs, NBA Cares. NBA Cares is an initiative launched with the commitment of donating $100 million to various organizations helping lesser privileged children and their families. With the NBA having just come out of a lockout, there is a lot of talk about NBA players getting paid to much, as NBA owners are arguing that their teams are failing to make a profit. When our country is in the midst of an economic downturn and NBA players are making as much as $30 million a year (where the league minimum is somewhere near $400,000), public relations for the NBA could be a disaster. But programs such as NBA Cares is a way to help out many of the families who are avid fans of the NBA. Many poorer communities in the US tend to be fans of the NBA and its players, as many players come from modest backgrounds. Here is one of many of the commercials the NBA has run for NBA Cares:
The article also included information about CSR and other sports leagues, and proved to be very helpful when looking at business ethics and sports. I am considering writing my final paper on issues having to do with CSR and sports, and narrowing it to a certain league may make sense. Looking at NBA Cares as an example, I’m going to focus in the next week or so on commercials or other marketing schemes that highlight professional sports CSR examples, more closely looking at the NFL, the MLB, and the NHL – other prominent professional sports leagues in the US.