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PopsNson NCAA Tournament Trip

Popsnson at Cuse vs Gonzaga 2nd Round in Buffalo

 By Scott Mittleman

I grew up Syracuse Orangemen (now Orange) fan since I was 7yrs old. My first introduction to Syracuse was watching the 1987 National Championship game against Indiana.  From that point forward I bled orange and remember most big games since that time.  With my fandom in full force I dragged my dad into being part of my misery.  I also converted him into a Broncos fan the same year and signed him up for even more suffering that would now last from September all way through March.  Yes there is a theme of Orange and Blue for my favorite teams.

My Umass Beginning:

It was the spring of 1996 when I got accepted to Umass and that March both Syracuse and Umass were in the Final Four.  I was rooting for both teams but didn’t know who I would support in the title game if I had to pick.  Unfortunately Umass lost to Kentucky and the Cuse wound up losing a close game to a Kentucky team that had 7 future NBA players on it (Can you name all the players without looking them up?).   Than my freshmen year at Umass was the last time the Minutemen made the tournament and lost to a Larry Hughes St.Louis team.  Since then there hasn’t been much Umass basketball to root for come March and I’ve remained a huge Syracuse fan through the years. 

With that being said this past season by the Orange was a huge treat for me to follow and dream of another Final Four run. Knowing that it could be a special season I thought it would be the perfect time for my pops and I to see our first ever NCAA Tournament game.  So the wheels started spinning on getting myself from San Francisco to Buffalo where the Cuse was destined to be for their 1st and 2nd round games (I was solely basing this by Joe Lunardi’s projectios). 

Dad was a bit skeptical on the trip but I told him we had to do it and when else would the Cuse be a #1 seed.  So off we went, I bought our tickets right after the Cuse became ranked #1, reserved our hotel and booked myself a flight.  To help track our journey to Buffalo I decided to create a blog and report on the tourney and of course our sampling of Buffalo Wings or as they are called in Buffalo just wings.  If you want a father and son first hand look at the tourney and our fun experiences in Buffalo check out

Maybe next year Umass will finally get back in the tournament especially if it’s expanded to 96 teams, Go Umass!!

Jimmy Valvano’s Legacy

By, Scott Mittleman

Co Founder SF Fun Raisers

I’ve been writing about sports and non-profits teaming up to make a different and this week provides one of the greatest examples of that. December 2nd – December 8th is Jimmy V week on ESPN.

The passion and inspiration that it takes to succeed in anything is what made Jimmy Valvano a sports legend and a leader in the fight against Cancer. He knew that he couldn’t win the fight against cancer but started the V foundation before he died so that the future may hold a cure for cancer. At the 1993 Espy’s in his emotional acceptance speech for the Arthur Ashe Courage award he announced the creation of the V Foundation, by saying “We need money for research. It may not save my life. It may save my children’s lives. It may save someone you love.”

Like many non-profits the V Foundation started off extremely small and on a shoestring budget. It was Jimmy’s closest friends, family and ESPN that helped initiate the major impact it has had on cancer research over the last 15 years. The foundation has continued Jimmy V’s vision by running the organization with true passion and dedication that he started it with.

In past articles I’ve talked about the difficulties athletes face when starting their own non-profits. They can all look to the V foundation for how to get organized and generate the support needed to run a successful non-profit. One individual can make a huge difference by spreading their passion and than others will join the fight.

No matter what type of non-profit you choose to support we can all make a difference. However you lend your support goes a long way to spreading the idea of philanthropy and helping others. I hope my up-coming posts will get you in the mood to give back this holiday season.

Jimmy V ESPY Awards Speech

NFL and Obama Team Up

By, Scott Mittleman

Co Founder SF Fun Raisers

It’s almost Black Friday and the official start to the holiday shopping season. As much as this marks the official shopping start, non-profits are also preparing for their holiday rush. During the holidays people often feel the need to contribute more and think of those less fortunate.

Many people and organizations are dedicated year round to making sure that others are aware of the need to support non-profits. As mentioned last week the NFL does a great job in donating to charities and being an advocate for them. This Thanksgiving the NFL and President Barack Obama are teaming up to create a PSA for the NFL Play 60 program. Together the NFL Play 60 and President Obama’s United We Serve  campaign encourage us to volunteer our time in the community.

“Designed to tackle childhood obesity, NFL PLAY 60 brings together the NFL’s long-standing commitment to health and fitness with partner organizations. Since the program was launched in 2007, the NFL has committed $200 million to youth health and fitness through programming, grants, and media time for PSAs.”

In support of NFL PLAY 60, all Thanksgiving weekend games will raise awareness of the childhood obesity epidemic and showcase the NFL and its clubs’ commitment to help reverse this trend. Beginning on Thanksgiving Day and continuing throughout Weeks 12-14, teams will designate a home game as an ‘NFL PLAY 60’ game. Teams also will invite ‘NFL PLAY 60 youth ambassadors’ to run on-field and stand alongside players for the National Anthem.

During the holidays all of us tend to indulge a bit and make those new years resolutions to work out more and eat healthier. To avoid this constant struggle the NFL is helping kids learn early on how to achieve healthy habits for exercise while having fun. Don’t forget to get out there and help your community, the NFL and President Obama are doing it so should you!!

NFL Play 60 PSA with President Obama

Why NFL On-Field Disciplinary Fines Matter

By, Scott Mittleman

Co Founder SF Fun Raisers

Each week the NFL does it’s best to protect the leagues image along with safety on the field.  Issues such as uniform violations, late hits, and gestures by a player or coach that Roger Goodell deems improper can result in a fine. 

Last Sunday’s game between the Buffalo Bills and Tennessee Titans involved the only two remaining owners from the AFL, Ralph Wilson owner of the Bills and Bud Adams owner of the Titans, formerly the Houston Oilers.  These teams have had a long history between the greatest comeback in football history and the Music City Miracle!! View the links at the end of the post to relieve joy or suffering. 

After the Titans had won the game owner Bud Adams felt it necessary to show the Bills and owner Ralph Wilson exactly what he thought of their team with a gun slinging middle finger salute from his luxury box!!  Sure he was happy the Titans had now won 3 in a row after losing their fist six but was his middle finger shooting really necessary?  Regardless of why he did it or what anyone thinks about it his actions the NFL imposed $250,000 fine has benefits that many may not be aware of. 

Here is a tidbit of where the on-field disciplinary fines go “In addition, NFL Charities has traditionally donated funds to charitable causes from revenues generated by annual on-field disciplinary fines of players and coaches. On-field fine money has netted over$2 million per year for charity in each of the past four years. Each year, one-quarter of the fine money received by NFL Charities is donated to support former players in need through the NFL Player Association’s Players Assistance Trust (PAT). In the last fiscal year, that amount totaled more than $827,000. Other organizations that receive funds through NFL Charities from the player fine pool include the Partnership for Clean Competition, the Brian Piccolo Memorial Fund and the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Care Center”  

The Players Association’s Player Assistance Trust (PAT) just by name doesn’t really explain what a valuable non-profit it is.  Former NFL players are left with debilitating injuries due from the beating their bodies took while playing football. I could write about this topic non-stop but just wanted to point out that the NFL is not donating to some super rich retirement fund for ex-players living the good life. 

While the NFL continues to be referred to as the No Fun League, no one can question its support of non-profits through a multitude of programs.  In future posts I will explore these programs along with the players and teams making it all possible.

Bills Greatest Comback Ever

Music City Miracle

Bud Adams Flipping off  The Bills (Only open if you don’t mind his quick draw middle figer gestures)

Coach Lewis Impacts The Community

By, Scott Mittleman

Co-Founder SF Funraisers

It’s that time of the week again to look at sports and philanthropy working together.  This week, I will shed light on a coach’s community foundation devoting their efforts to numerous causes. 

Last week, I mentioned The Steve Patterson Award for Excellence in Sports Philanthropy and the Red Sox winning the team award for 2009.  The individual award for 2009 went to Cincinnati Bengals coach Marvin Lewis and the Marvin Lewis Community Foundation.   

The Marvin Lewis Community Foundation is not just something that Marvin Lewis considers a side project.  He devotes as much time and effort to the foundation as he does to coaching the Bengals.  The foundation has worked on many projects involving youth camps, after school learning and breast cancer prevention.  Despite a struggling economy and internal hardships with their executive director passing away, the foundation has still prospered. 

I know first hand the difficulty of running a non-profit while having a full time job.  People might think, ‘oh a football coach, that’s not a real job’ and of course Marvin Lewis should have a foundation.  The fact is it takes true dedication to run a foundation that consistently goes above and beyond to help the community.  Thanks to Marvin’s leadership and a wonderful staff, the Marvin Lewis Community Foundation continues to be a leader in sports philanthropy. 

Seeing how the Red Sox and The Marvin Lewis Community Foundation are making a difference inspires me to do even more for non-profits and bridge the relationship between sports and philanthropy. 

Read my posts each Wednesday for insight into how Sports can effect more than just a score!! 

Related Links:

Press Release

Radio Interview: The Front Row with Betsy Ross on NPR affiliate WVXU interviewed Greg Johnson and Carlette Patterson

Teams Making A Difference

By, Scott Mittleman

Co Founder SF FunRaisers                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               aisers

My first two articles I’ve touched on Athletes involvement in working with and creating a non-profit.  Sticking to the same non-profit theme, I would like to delve into how teams are also making a difference.

The Sports Philanthropy Project has teamed up with The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in creating The Steve Patterson Award for Excellence in Sports Philanthropy. 

About the Steve Patterson Award for Excellence in Sports Philanthropy

The Steve Patterson Award for Excellence in Sports Philanthropy is presented annually by The Sports Philanthropy Project (SPP) and The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The award acknowledges sports organizations and individual philanthropies that have demonstrated excellence, leadership, and a sustained commitment toward a mission that serves and improves the lives of others.

To keep all of New England reading my blog posts, I am happy to report that the Red Sox Foundation received the award for 2009.  Principal owner John Henry made the following statement about the team’s priorities following the purchase of the Red Sox in 2002.  “Immediately after we purchased the Red Sox in 2002, one of our biggest priorities was to create a foundation that will have a meaningful impact on the lives of people throughout New England who are facing some of the greatest challenges,”

When a teams ownership makes being a difference in the community a priority, this commitment trickles down to the players, the fans and the community in general.  It shows that the hometown team believes in where they are from and wants to help preserve valuable non-profit work. 

The Red Sox Foundation has not only donated time and money but is truly pioneering ways to fundraise, manage donor relationships, keeping volunteers, and generating in-kind opportunities. 

With the World Series nearing an end, most baseball fans are moving onto football season while The Red Sox Foundation continues to  make Boston a better city each day.  

Check me out next week to read about who won the individual honors for The Steve Patterson Award for Excellence in Sports Philanthropy

Related Links:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Press Release for Award

Featured on The Boston Business Journal Website

Video of Award Presentation

Listen to Red Sox Chairman Tom Werner’s interview during “Inside Pitch” with Casey Stern and Kevin Kennedy on the MLB Home Plate channel on SIRIUS XM Radio

Athletes Building Non-Profits

By, Scott Mittleman

An athlete with the best intentions of starting his or her own charity, may never receive the proper support to help get things off the ground.

Matthew Wade of Athletes Foundations discussed with me the current obstacles facing many athletes. It starts with their agent, who is not initially concerned with their clients work within the community. They want an athlete to be well liked and be a good citizen but not as concerned with them devoting their time and energy to building a non- profit. The need to involve the athlete in the community comes after something happens to possibly tarnish their image in the national media.

Athletes often don’t realize until later in their career that they want to be more involved in giving back. At this point, they aren’t sure about what resources to turn to or who to trust. From the start of their career, people are always hanging around athletes for selfish reasons and trying to reap both financial and social benefits.

Organizations such as Athlete Foundations are there to help steer an athlete through the process of starting a non-profit, organizing fundraising campaigns and just being the face of an organization. For companies to support and sponsor a non-profit run by an athlete, they want to see that athlete have an active role within the organization. They also want to see them investing their own money to help support the non-profit.

When an athlete dedicates themselves to their non-profit, it shows a true desire to support their cause and provides a legitimate base to build the non-profit. They need as much support and resources as possible to aid in this development.

I hope to offer a helping hand to both athletes and non-profits to benefit one another for a good cause. When a group of people work together for something beyond anything materialistic, only good things can happen.

 Thanks for reading and check out my articles each Wednesday.

For some great athlete charities check out:

Warrick Dunn Foundation:

Athletes for Hope:

View my current Non-profit SF Fun Raisers at

Future of Fantasy

Relay Insights: The Reality of Fantasy Sports Participation
The start of the 2009 NFL season also marks the start of fantasy football
season, which for some devoted fans is the highlight of their football
The Fantasy Sports Trade Association estimates that nearly 30 million
people are playing fantasy sports across North America ? scanning the
waiver wire, analyzing injury reports, watching six games at once and
cheering for fourth-quarter scores by teams down by 28 points.
Most marketers may assume fantasy participants are the stereotypical
18-24, beer-guzzling, jersey-wearing, single male, and this perception may
be causing many brands to miss out on what is actually a much broader and
passionate audience.
Based on research provided by our friends at Scarborough Sports Marketing,
marketers may want to take a deeper look at engaging more with fantasy
sports participants after all.
According to Scarborough, 83.9% of fantasy participants are male; however,
women have increasingly become more interested in fantasy sports, with a
36% increase since 2007 ? bringing females to 16.1% of participants in
2009. And though 84.2% are white, Hispanics have been the fastest growing
ethnic group, increasing 27% since 2007.
If those figures aren?t surprising enough, 37.4% of fantasy participants
have a household income over $100,000 (61% more likely than a member of
the general population = 161 index), 38% have a college degree (147
index), most own their own home (73.2%) and 59.2% of participants are
And while 50% of participants are ages 18-34 (164 index), the fastest
growing age demographic is the 60+ group who has increased 28% since 2007.

Meanwhile, what markets are the hotbeds for fantasy activity? The top 5
DMAs for fantasy sports participants (in order) might surprise you:
Milwaukee, St. Louis, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Cincinnati.
So, if you are evaluating if fantasy participants are an attractive
audience for your brand, consider ways to go beyond online ad units to
engage this audience. The power of fantasy sports is in the connections
within the thousands of communities who play. Create ways to help them get
together, interact and share statistics and information, and you can score
big for your brand.


Athletes and Nonprofits

First off, I would like to say that I am thrilled to take part in the Sports Biz Blog as a Umass Alumni. Each Wednesday I plan to post an article, where I hope to help enlighten others, as well as educate myself with current happenings taking place in sports.

Since leaving Umass, I’ve moved across the country to San Francisco, where I’ve had a career in nonprofit fundraising. My first few posts will deal with cause marketing and how athletes and the sports world can help make a big difference in benefitting nonprofits.

 Sports and nonprofits working together are not a new phenomenon. For years, athletes and leagues have been working closely with numerous nonprofits such as: The United Way, Boys and Girls Club, American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, and Habitat for Humanity, to name just a few of the hundreds that have received support.

 Many athletes have their own nonprofits and devote a lot of time to community service. For as much as athletes contribute, the ability for them to start their own organizations can be quite difficult.

 The reality is when an athlete wants to create his or her own nonprofit, they often run into many hurdles that prevent them from starting their own organization. Yes, it is easy to show up at events organized by their respective league or team, and lend their name to help generate attendees and donations. If an athlete wants his or her own organization, there is no one there to help with the actual game plan for success.

This led me to search out someone with knowledge of helping athletes start their own nonprofit. I found Matthew Wade, who runs Athlete Foundations in Seattle (, he has over a decade of experience working in sports and community relations. My next post I will go over my discussion with Matt about the current state of helping an athlete build their own nonprofit.


The Center for Spectator Sports Research (CSSR) at the University of Massachusetts Amherst is happy to announce that Sports Biz Buzz, a blog about sports business, will be back this year with number of changes. Graduate students in the Sports Management department will be taking charge to share their thoughts and start the debates over hot sports issues. Alongside student contributions, there will be contributions from our respected alumni who work in a variety of disciplines across the industry. Check it out at

As mentioned in its goals, The CSSR puts a huge emphasis on providing educational and training opportunities for its students. Through contributing to the blog, students will be able to publish their opinions and lead the discussion on topics about which they are passionate. Another aim of the blog is to establish a medium where alumni and students can discuss different topics and have a chance to connect with each other.

Having mentioned alumni and graduate students, the blog is of course welcome to contributions by professors, other students and business leaders. We are looking forward to developing the blog as much as possible in the future and hope that through your enriching contributions it will prove valuable to all.