Our Sports Superstars and Their Non-Profit Scams

Hey, don't be cynical! Yes, this is the A-Rod family, and that's the Font of Human Kindness behind them!

Hey, don’t be cynical! Yes, this is the A-Rod family, and that’s the Font of Human Kindness behind them!

Pro athletes who receive insanely high salaries for their unique talents and awe-inspiring achievements often deflect the public jealousy, envy, resentment and criticism their riches inspire by launching charitable foundations aimed at providing assistance and comfort to poor children, disaster victims, orphans, kids with dread diseases, puppies, and anything else that will produce a collective, “Awww! He’s really a good guy!” Some of these athletes really are good guys, like former tennis star Andre Agassi, a true philanthropist, whose Foundation raised and handed out millions while he was playing and continues to do so. Agassi also frequently led all pro athletes in money donated to charity, and he had no scandals that he was trying to make people forget. He’s third on the list now. The first two: Tiger Woods and Lance Armstrong.

Other stars, however, are a different story. The Boston Globe just published an article about superstar athlete foundations that through mismanagement, inattention, greed or the apathy of the athlete are little more than public relations shells that meet none of the ethical and financial standards the non-profit sector demands of genuine charities. Take, for example, the foundation started by New York Yankees mega-star third baseman Alex Rodriguez, now healing from a serious hip operation and embroiled in a performance enhancing drug controversy that puts his career in jeopardy. In 2006, A-Rod had another scandal to deal with, as he was named as a member of an illegal poker club. “Why not turn it around and raise some money for the children?” Rodriguez said in an interview at the time. Hey, why not? So he started the A-Rod Family Foundation and hosted a celebrity poker tournament to raise money for those adorable kids. The event helped the foundation raise $403,862, and, according to IRS records, it gave exactly $5,090 to charitable causes, a little more than 1%.  The rest? I don’t know—perhaps it went to the A-Rod family, as the foundation’s name suggests.

The non-profit sector regards any foundation that gives less than about 70% of its proceeds to charity is misusing its funds, and less than 2% easily qualifies as fraud, if it was intentional. The A-Rod Family Foundation was stripped of its non-profit status after its miserable performance in its first year of existence.

Alex Rodriguez made $21,680,727 in 2006.

A-Rod was paid $29,000,000 in 2012.

The Globe said he could not be reached for comment.


Pointer: NBC Sports

Facts: Boston Globe

Graphic: Daily Caller

4 thoughts on “Our Sports Superstars and Their Non-Profit Scams

  1. There’s fiscal irresponsibility and then there’s fiscal irresponsibility coupled with a general lack of ethics so severe that general opinion in the group you’re allegedly set up to benefit is that you’re a genocidal hate group. Having dealt with the latter sort for years (and having multiple invitations to their fundraising events un-replied-to in my inbox at the moment), I find it rather difficult to get emotionally worked up about mere fiscal irresponsibility.

    And, of course, it’s nothing new — and some of the tales I could tell you about people having uncharitable motives in forming charities…

    Oh, don’t get me wrong here. I’m emphatically not defending these people. It’s just… I am so *sick* and *tired* of dealing with — and reading about — this shit.

    We need better oversight. We need organizations dedicated to holding people — and charities — accountable. We need… actual ethics.

    And, honestly, that’s the gist of this blog, isn’t it?

  2. What’s equally sad is that some pro athletes actually do a great job in the philanthropy space. For example, former NFLer Warrick Dunn has an amazing foundation that does great work for single parent families. Reputable foundation, great ethics and fully transparent with their financials.

    But there are many athletes who have a foundation solely for the tax benefits and/or the publicity. That’s pro sports in general though – they think that just by raising money and giving it away that they’re tied to the community and solving problems. But the reality is that model is broken. If you just give money away and don’t go back to see where it was used and what the impact was, then it was a waste – other than the fact that you made yourself look like a hero by raising the money and giving it away. Pro sports is in need of a “line change” when it comes to working with charities.

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