The Chicago Sports Alliance has committed to continuing a partnership among the city’s five major professional sports teams, dedicating itself to take action against violence in the region. This marks the second consecutive year the alliance has come together to spearhead community activism and social justice efforts in the Greater Chicago area.
Violence in Chicago continues to be a serious problem, drawing major attention from Chicago White Sox chairman, Jerry Reinsdorf. Over the past couple years, Reinsdorf has galvanized influential sports executives, including Chicago Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts, Blackhawks chairman Rocky Wirtz, Bears chairman George H. McCaskey and Bulls president and chief operating officer Michael Reinsdorf, to come up with innovative strategies for tackling gun violence.
With a goal of preventing crime in one of the world's most violent cities, where there are 480 deaths from gun violence this year, the alliance has renewed a $1 million donation to support organizations working to address the issue. These organizations include the University of Chicago Crime Lab, a research center that evaluates crime-reduction strategies; Choose to Change, a community-based program that focuses on violence prevention for at-risk youth; and Rapid Employment and Development Initiative (READI), an 18-month transitional work development training program that involves cognitive behavioral therapy.
In an effort to promote effective crime prevention methods and increase awareness regarding violence in the city, the Chicago Sports Alliance recently chaired panel discussions at a luncheon for local civic, corporate and philanthropic leaders around Chicago. Held at MB Ice Arena on November 16, the alliance hosted guests from multiple stakeholder organizations, including Jens Ludwig, the University of Chicago Crime Lab director; Chicago police superintendent Eddie T. Johnson; Chris Sutton, Choose to Change program director; and Eddie Bocanegra, READI Chicago senior director.
To shed light on past initiatives and educate the public on how they can get involved, executives also discussed current and past philanthropic efforts of Chicago players surrounding gun violence, ranging from former Bears' running back Matt Forte to Jimmy Butler and Michael Jordan during their time with the Bulls to the Cubs' Kyle Schwarber and Jason Heyward to Tim Anderson and Jose Abreu of the White Sox.
"It's an honor to be working with other teams," Ricketts stated. “Those are guys whom I've looked up to and respected for a long time. It's just the ability to get more attention to what is probably the biggest problem our city is facing.”
All five Chicago sports teams are committed to continuing their efforts to build a safer Chicago and will continue to support organizations that devote themselves to a similar mission. They are committed to engaging the larger Chicago sports community as well, encouraging fans and spectators to follow in their favorite team’s footsteps. You can find more information about the Chicago Sports Alliance here.