Controversy erupted today over ESPN’s decision to give away an hour of primetime programming to announce which NBA team LeBron James will join.
The sports network will donate proceeds from advertising sponsorships of the announcement show to Boys & Girls Clubs of America, a charity long supported by James. “Many in the media world are decrying the event,” reported The Chronicle of Philanthropy, “saying that it hurts ESPN’s journalistic credibility.”
The article went on to quote author and sportswriter Mitch Albom, who said, “You want to give to charity, quietly write a check. Don’t get a network to do it for you so it gets to pump its shows and you get to shower yourself in international coverage—while calling it philanthropy.”
My take is that while this act of goodwill by ESPN may qualify more as strategic marketing than philanthropy, at least a nonprofit is benefiting from all the hoopla, which clearly was going to happen anyway.
What do you think? Is the donation to the Boys & Girls Clubs truly philanthropic? Is ESPN less credible because of this decision? Or should we all just be happy that a nonprofit is benefiting? Tell us what you think below.