One of the clichés that have proved to be the hardest to scratch in the world of sport is that which portrays most sportsmen as selfish people and, in particular, the most precocious athletes involved in sports in which earnings are particularly important, such as spoiled young people, unable to understand the difficulties of those who have not had the good fortune to be equally well paid. Yet, in stark contrast to this stereotype, there is a fairly evident link between sport and solidarity initiatives for the benefit of the most diverse causes: charity initiatives have a leading role in the world of sport, both professional and amateur.
Starting from the sport most transversally in the world, football, it is immediately evident that the number of people involved and the number of solidarity initiatives are two quantities that grow in parallel. In recent months, some of the most prominent clubs in the Italian league have made donations or organized fundraising: Inter has raised a sum to be donated to the Sacco hospital in Milan from the president, players and even fans; Rome organized a fundraiser for the benefit of the Spallanzani hospital; Juventus also organized a fundraiser for the benefit of the Piedmont region.
Many footballers, likewise, showed off for the same reason: Insigne, Bonucci, Zaza, Ibrahimovic, Florenzi, even Ilicic who donated the ball he took home to the Bergamo hospital thanks to the quatern placed on the scoresheet in the match against Valencia on March 10th, are just some of the names that have distinguished themselves in recent months for donations. But going back in time, and going beyond the Italian borders, there are countless initiatives of solidarity in the world of football.
Javier Zanetti has been active since 2001 with his Pupi foundation, which operates in the sector of the integral protection of the rights of children and adolescents. The Cannavaro Ferrara foundation, created by the Cannavaro brothers together with Ciro Ferrara, is responsible for raising funds for the Neapolitan associations that deal with youth problems. these are just some of the names that have stood out in recent months for donations.
If football provides an enormous amount of examples, however, other sports are no less well-known only because they are somehow “obscured” by football itself. We can then take the example of one of the most well-known recent faces in wrestling, John Cena, author of a large donation for first aid workers and several times for the Make-A-Wish foundation. Another character who has strongly linked his name to charitable initiatives is Barry Greenstein, a poker player who, among other peers, has distinguished himself for donations such as to deserve him.
In the world of tennis Serena Williams recently appeared topless in a video clip for associations against breast cancer, and is the owner of an association that deals with building schools in disadvantaged places in the world.
LeBron James, one of the prominent faces of the American NBA, founded an association to support families in need, mainly dealing with education and housing functional to the same in his hometown in Ohio.
Former South Korean figure skater Yu-Na Kim, UNICEF ambassador since 2010, has repeatedly called for interventions to protect minors involved in the Syrian conflict, and in 2013 she made a donation to the Philippines hit by Typhoon Hayian, a gesture now habitual for her.
The list could go on and on, but the central point is to consider how, in the most diverse sports, athletes are involved in solidarity initiatives. Because? One might think for cynical reasons and for advertising purposes; but this would not explain events such as, for example, the huge number of amateur sports activities that are a showcase for charitable initiatives, even in the smallest realities.
It is therefore fair to conclude that the stereotype that sees sportsmen disconnected from everyday reality is a myth to be dispelled, noting that some of the most heartfelt initiatives of solidarity come from the world of sport.