No Holds Bard: Reframing Sports Nonprofits

There have been some disturbing news stories of late, discussing the problems that exist with many professional athletes’ individual foundations and nonprofit charitable organizations. These stories began a few months ago with an in-depth report by the Boston Globe, and continued recently with an Outside the Lines special on Since then, many people have come forward with harsh criticisms of these athletes. The words “selfish” and “inconsiderate” were probably thrown around much more than appropriate, and I worry that many of these athletes’ motives have been unjustifiably questioned.

This is not a sympathy piece to defend these foundations and nonprofits. Any organization that has been created to finance costs that go beyond their charitable goals should be criticized and condemned. They waste resources and embellish an athlete’s public image at the sake of helping those in need. However, my concern is that people misunderstand or underestimate the difficulty of running a successful nonprofit or foundation today. Success in the nonprofit world can be as tough and complex as any industry, especially if the personnel are unable to devote the necessary resources to the organization.

Many foundations and nonprofits, like the U.S. Soccer Foundation, have thrived  because they have carefully and thoughtfully crafted specific goals and then diligently worked towards achieving those goals. Additionally, through my work and interactions with other nonprofit organizations, I have found that one secret to the success of a nonprofit or foundation lies in how they mobilize every sector of the world they touch – government, business, and the public – to be a force for social change. In other words, greatness may have more to do with how nonprofits and foundations work outside the boundaries of their organizations than with how they manage day-to-day internal operations. Unfortunately, it seems that many of the nonprofit organizations that have recently been called into question suffer from problems such as having an inadequate board of directors, spending a disproportionate amount  of money on unnecessary expenses, or failing to hire a qualified staff.

It is easy to point fingers and accuse any failed nonprofit of being fraudulent or dishonest, but that may unjustly oversimplify the issue. These organizations and the people who found or lead them want to solve many of the biggest problems plaguing our world; this is the rule and not the exception. The fear, however, is that the necessary time and resources are not being utilized to solve these problems. The unfortunate truth is that many of the people running these organizations lack the knowledge and/or experience to raise money and spend it wisely, to advocate confidently and clearly, and to organize and execute effective programs.

From my personal experience, I have seen how the U.S. Soccer Foundation works tirelessly to enhance, assist, and grow the sport of soccer in the United States. Its success, along with many other nonprofit organizations, is a testament to the hard work of its leadership and staff, its effective board of directors, and its attentive and focused vision. Achieving success in this field cannot be overstated, and changing the discussion from failures to the accomplishments in the field of sports nonprofit organizations and foundations is the first step in leading others towards similar achievement.


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  • adidas


    adidas, the Foundation’s Safe Places to Play – Mini-Pitch Partner, supports providing children in underserved communities with safe play spaces nationwide. adidas strives to be the globally leading and most popular sporting goods brand. Dedicated to innovation,  adidas embraces creativity and seeks to be socially responsible in all facets of its brand. For more information, please visit

  • CHA


    CHA Sports, the Foundation’s Supplier for Soccer Facility Design and Planning Services, provides community partners with expertise in soccer facility design. CHA Sport’s full service approach allows the company to build world-class projects without breaking budgets. For more information, please visit

  • The DICK'S Sporting Goods Foundation

    The DICK'S Sporting Goods Foundation

    DICK’S Sporting Goods and The DICK’S Sporting Goods Foundation believe that participation in sports makes people better. Since 2014, DICK’S and The DICK’S Foundation have pledged more than $100 million to support youth sports teams and leagues in need.  Through our Sports Matter initiative we strive to increase awareness for underfunded youth athletics nationwide and provide much-needed support through equipment, uniform and monetary donations. For more information on Sports Matter, visit

  • Kwik Goal

    Kwik Goal

    Kwik Goal, the Foundation’s Official Supplier for goals, seating, boundary equipment, training equipment and coaching accessories, will be supporting a variety of Foundation programs and initiatives including: Soccer for Success, National Training and the Safe Places to Play program. Over thirty years ago, Kwik Goal was founded on the revolutionary concept of providing transportable goals for coaches at all age levels. Since that time, Kwik Goal has continued to focus on helping coaches and soccer programs create safe and dynamic learning environments by supplying high quality, safety tested soccer goals, field equipment and training equipment to the domestic and international market. For more information, please visit



    MLS WORKS, Major League Soccer’s community outreach initiative, is dedicated to addressing important social issues and serves as a platform for both League and club philanthropic programs. MLS WORKS seeks to establish Major League Soccer as a leader for improving the lives of people through sport. MLS WORKS is committed to improving the communities where we live and play our games by executing national programs and legacy projects, charitable giving campaigns, and undertaking various initiatives in underserved communities.

  • Musco


    As a proud corporate partner of the U.S. Soccer Foundation, Musco is dedicated to helping the major charitable arm of American soccer create new opportunities through high-quality sports lighting. Their Total Light Control—TLC for LED™ technology is engineered as a system with lighting, structural, and electrical components designed to work together for streamlined installation and long-term reliability. TLC for LED delivers superior field lighting while eliminating glare and spill from impacting surrounding neighborhoods. And Musco’s long-term warranty covering parts and labor means U.S. Soccer Foundation partners don’t have to handle any maintenance on their system, or pay for it, for 25 years. Visit to learn more about the grant program and application process.

  • SCORE Sports

    SCORE Sports

    SCORE Sports, the preferred provider of shin guards to the Foundation’s Soccer for Success program, is a family-owned and operated business specializing in sports equipment, uniforms and apparel. SCORE is an industry leader and has been involved in the sports community for over 40 years. SCORE outfits athletes with high-quality uniforms that SCORE develops, designs and manufactures in the U.S. SCORE takes pride in working with various non-profit groups and causes to give back to athletes who may need some extra support to play the game they love. SCORE is environmentally cautious with the materials it uses for its products and does its part in minimizing our environmental footprint. SCORE proudly offers a wide variety of products to provide customers with a one-stop shop for all your soccer needs. For more information, please visit

  •, the Foundation’s National Partner for Soccer Equipment and Uniforms, was founded in 1984 to provide high quality soccer gear at reasonable prices through its nationally circulated catalog. embodies a passion for the game that extends to the people who play, coach and support soccer. For more information, please visit




  • Target


    Target announced a national partnership with Safe Places to Play in 2017, along with a $6 million commitment to build 100 new soccer play spaces with the U.S. Soccer Foundation by 2020. This is the latest initiative in the Minneapolis-based retailer’s multi-dimensional approach to the sport of soccer, bringing the game to more kids and families across the country, and unlocking access and increasing involvement at all levels.

  • TGI Worldwide

    TGI Worldwide

    TGI Worldwide, the Foundation’s National Partner for Visual Branding (Signage, Event Décor, Pageantry, Sponsorship Activation), Perimeter Field Board Systems, Creative Services and Event Operations is proud to support a variety of initiatives and programs throughout the United States. Headquartered in the U.S., TGI is an internationally recognized sports marketing company delivering high profile Visual Branding, Live Event Management, LED, and cutting edge Digital Sports Applications to enrich the experience at major events and deliver commercial impact for sponsors and partners. The company has a 20-year history in providing its various solutions for many top-tier domestic and international events, organizations, teams and companies, with proven success and turn-key solutions across 1000+ events, 160+ cities and 50+ countries globally.

    For more information on our services, please visit or contact Mike Squire at / Phone: 312-371-5852.

  • World Soccer Shop

    World Soccer Shop

    Launched in 2001, World Soccer Shop is an online soccer retailer based in Birmingham, Alabama. It carries one of the world’s widest selections of officially-licensed products from the sport’s top brands and teams. World Soccer Shop is passionate about soccer and endeavors to spread the beautiful game around the world, especially to those in areas of need. For more information, please visit


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