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Shaming athletes and team owners for the amount of money they donate to charity isn’t cool

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It shouldn’t be about how much an athlete or team owner donates relative to his or her wealth, it should be about the fact that they donated, period.

NFL Pro Bowl Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

A number of years ago, Saints quarterback Drew Brees faced public scrutiny (perhaps for the first time in his entire life) when a story emerged that he only tipped $3 on a $74 takeout order. Around that same time, Penguins star center Sidney Crosby felt the wrath of the people (perhaps for the first time in his entire life anywhere outside of the City of Philadelphia) when it was learned that he was rushed to the front of the line during a trip to the DMV so as not to create a mob scene with fans.

I couldn’t help but notice the irony.

On one hand, people were angry with Brees, a wealthy athlete, for not tipping more than what was required under the circumstances (it was a takeout order, after all). And on the other hand, they were angry that Crosby was getting preferential treatment based on his celebrity status.

And that brings me to today’s topic: People who shame athletes, team owners and other celebrities of wealth for the amount of money they donate to specific charities.

This has always been a thing, but it’s become a bigger thing now with the Coronavirus impacting so many lives and celebrity-type people stepping up to help their cause financially.

Anytime a story is published about a team or person’s charitable donation, it’s not uncommon for someone to take to social media or a comments section and say something along the lines of, “That’s like me donating $5. Just sayin’.”

The implication, of course, is that the extremely wealthy team or person could have given so much more. Therefore, why admire the effort?

Long-time Pittsburgh sports scribe, Bob Smizik did just that recently, when it was announced that the Pittsburgh Pirates had donated $50,000 to The Greater Pittsburgh Food Bank, an amount that will reportedly help feed 110,000 people.

That’s a good thing, right? Especially now, with the pandemic affecting the livelihoods of thousands of people in the Western Pennsylvania area.

Not according to Smizik, who took to Twitter to say this about the Buccos’ donation:

“How about Pirates making public their $50,000 food bank contrib. That’s an organization worth $1 billion owned by a man who is reported to be a billionaire. That’s like someone making $100,000 a year contributing $5. Why the need to publicize charity? Shameless”

And you thought I was kidding with the $5 reference.

Anyway, that’s certainly a great example of someone worrying more about the amount a person donated in relation to his or her wealth and less about how much the donation will actually help people.

Maybe the Pirates could have given more. So what? I’ve been known to give homeless people money—$2, $3, whatever I have on me. Could I give more? Sure, but that doesn’t mean the money I do hand out isn’t helping the people who get it.

What do we want from wealthy athletes, team owners and celebrities? Do we want them to donate so much of their wealth, they have a brief moment of buyer’s remorse, where they contemplate their financial future, like Michael Scott in the moments after he purchased a condo in a Season 2 episode of The Office?

Do we want the amount to sting them even just a little? Is that more important than the actual sum and who it helps?

As for Brees in 2020? He did draw universal praise for the $5 million he and his wife donated for Louisiana Coronavirus relief efforts (at least in the comments section of the Pro Football Talk article that discusses the story). Speaking of that comments section, I wanted to leave you with a PFT user’s quote from the comments section of that story because I think it perfectly sums up everything I’ve just said:

“Good for him. While he is considered very wealthy being a millionaire, the fact that he donated 5 million says alot. Especially considering he is no where near as whealthy as these owners or even other celebrities as Kyle Jenner who only donated a 1/5 of that but yet they are billionaires.”