OPINION: The community investment from Drew Brees is five times the amount donated last week by Gayle Benson, the owner of the New Orleans Saints (and Pelicans of the NBA), through her community assistance fund
Bulls of the Week
At 41 years of age, New Orleans Saints’ quarterback Drew Brees is one of North America’s leading athlete philanthropists. His Brees Dream Foundation is the most active, athlete-led charity in Louisiana and, ever since Hurricane Katrina, has been one of the most meaningful in the world.
That leadership position shined brightly again this week when Brees and wife Brittany announced a US$5 million commitment to deliver more than 10,000 meals per day throughout the state of Louisiana to children, seniors and families in need during the COVID-19 crisis.
They pledged to do so in partnership with Second Harvest Food Bank and a half dozen other restaurants and delivery partners — several of which are investment or ownership properties of Brees — for “as long as it takes.” He also opened the door to further contributions as required in 2021 and beyond.
The community investment from Brees is five times the amount donated last week by Gayle Benson, the owner of the New Orleans Saints (and Pelicans of the NBA), through her community assistance fund. It also dwarfs the largest personal donation made toward pandemic relief by an NFL owner, which is the US$2.65 million from Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper.
The Saints, purchased by the late Tom Benson for US$70.2 million in 1985, are valued by Forbes Magazine today at US$2.275-billion, which makes up just over two-thirds of Gayle Benson’s estimated personal net worth of US$3.1 billion. Brees, who re-signed last week to a two-year, US$50 million extension with the Saints and whose head coach Sean Payton is infected with the novel coronavirus, has a net worth estimated to be somewhere around US$120 million.
Yet no one had a greater impact on the business of sport on the world stage this past week than Hockey Hall of Fame inductee Hayley Wickenheiser.
Wickenheiser — a four-time Olympic gold medallist in women’s hockey and a summer Olympian as part of Canada’s softball team in 2000 — emerged in recent weeks as an ardent critic of the International Olympic Committee and the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games for keeping athletes around the world in a state of limbo.
By placing the focus on athlete and public safety after COVID-19, Wickenheiser’s common sense advocacy was a factor in the Canadian Olympic Committee being the first to withdraw from Tokyo 2020, which in turn caused the IOC and Japan to announce a one-year postponement of the Summer Games.
That means that two of the world’s four largest events — the Summer Olympics and UEFA European Cup — have been moved back by one year as the COVID-19 outbreak continues to play havoc with professional, varsity, junior and youth sports at the community level.
Bears of the Week
They ultimately did the right thing, but this was still a bad week for the IOC and Japanese Olympic organizers.
One day after the COC and Australian Olympic Committees pulled out of Tokyo 2020, the IOC still insisted it would take another four weeks before rendering a final decision on whether the Summer Games would continue.
Within 24 hours, they had been postponed indefinitely and then postponed by exactly one year. It made the IOC look tone deaf to the concerns of athletes and national Olympic committees and sport federations around the world.
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