One of the greatest qualities of professional sports teams is their ability to reach millions of fans on the local, national, and international levels. While this opens up many opportunities for sponsorship, ticket sales, and promotional activities, these teams are also able to harness their resources to make a lasting impact in the surrounding community. The Cleveland Indians, my favorite Major League Baseball team, currently operate multiple initiatives centered around the motive of spreading goodwill throughout Cleveland and the state of Ohio in general.
One of the primary outreach programs of the Indians organization is known as Tribe Scholars. This is a brand new education program in which the Cleveland Indians partner with teachers and principals of inner-city schools to promote youth education. Students in grades 6-8 who exhibit grade improvements or high marks in English/Language Arts classes and maintain a strong attendance record are offered promotional items and tickets to a game on Tribe Scholars Day, while participating schools will also receive visits from players and Slider the mascot.
A primary focus of the Indians’ community service efforts include improving the quality of youth baseball in the city of Cleveland, through programs such as Indians Youth Baseball and Fields for the Future. Indians Youth Baseball offers multiple options for young ballplayers in the Cleveland community to improve their abilities and exposure to the team through youth baseball camps, advanced development camps, and the “Progressive Field of Dreams Experience” where children are treated to a behind-the-scenes tour of Progressive Field, a game of catch on the field with their parent or guardian, and a Q & A autograph session with a current Indians player or coach. Fields for the Future occurs through a partnership with the city and Business Volunteers Unlimited to fully renovate youth baseball fields in Cleveland. Each year, one heavily-used field in poor condition is selected to receive a complete makeover. Upgrades include re-grading the field, building a pitcher’s mound, constructing benches, painting bleachers, and putting up brand new fencing. Marc Bona, an author for cleveland.com, offers details and photographs from the 2015 Fields for the Future site in the 2015 season in this article.
The Cleveland Indians support a number of additional community initiatives as well, including those supporting service, sustainability, heath, and fitness. One of the more popular service programs is known as the Lindor Smile Squad, which provides children with disabilities the opportunities to compete state-wide in Miracle League baseball. The Indians began a partnership with this organization at the start of the 2016 season, and is led by Indians all-star shortstop Francisco Lindor as the primary player ambassador. Miracle League helps build special facilities to meet the needs of these players, and during each homestand one Miracle League family will be selected during batting practice to take part in a unique Progressive Field experience. The facility has also offered recycling areas since its inception in 1994, therefore serving as an example of a sustainability program that helps reduce pollution and achieve a cleaner ecosystem. TeamSmile is a model of a major health and fitness program made possible by a partnership between the Indians, local dentists, and P&G that aims to issue dental services for 350 children enrolled in the Boys & Girls Club of Cleveland.