|The partnership between basketball and business can go a long way in helping communities in need. Euroleague’s One Team program is a great, fresh example of such powerful synergy and was the central topic of this season’s annual Euroleague Basketball Symposium held at Kadir Has University in Istanbul. One Team turned to Founding Patron, Turkish Airlines, and Founding Club Anadolu Efes to help prepare a series of panels with some well-known speakers from the world of sports as well as from Turkish and international business and academia. They shared their ideas on the symposium topic, "Good business can be GOOD business," which stressed the importance of dedication to social responsibility, and discussed the role of sports in society, responsible investing and challenges in business sponsorship.
“Sport, sponsorship and the emergence of social responsibility in the business of sport is a pretty important aspect of our industry. The core issue for brands and commercial partners is how are they engaged and why are they engaged”, said Mr. Jordi Bertomeu, Euroleague President & CEO in welcoming the panelists. “Our current economic climate has created two dynamics. The first is a more focused criteria for commercial and brands, and the second is the context of their investment. Sport offers many things. A showcase and a highly effective channel of communication and marketing, but it is also important what happens off the field of play. The passion of fans and engagement of communities. Social responsibility is now an established criteria for corporations when they consider investing in sports. In this context, we believe in a new vision for a new environment: putting our social value at the center of our business.”
The role of sport in Society has changed in a way that sport has become one of the important tools in making social changes. As such an important thing in so many people’s lives, many organizations have been using sports to engage with their communities. "Sport has the universal language and no one can deny it. It is a model and a powerful tool for cohesion, integration and combining societies”, said Mr. Melih Gurel, National Director Special Olympics in Turkey. He strongly believes sport can be used as a tool for social change because no other industry offers such high level interaction on all levels. Mr. Emir Guney, the Director of Sports Studies Research Center at Kadir Has University and one of the organizers of the event, sees sports as the most important thing in many people’s lives, and that is why sports can be good business. The perception that sport is just business is not what Mr. Hakan Aydınol of the Galatasaray Basketball Club Marketing Department would agree with. “Sport is more than business. Social responsibility projects are more and more important. It is more and more obvious that the role of sport is both growing and changing.”
The synergy of sport and business produces good results when trying to reach out to the community. “It is vital for sponsorships to have exposure to communities. It makes sponsorships much more valuable,” said Rowena Luscombe, Managing Director of Duara Consulting and a One Team advisor. She explained how creating CSR project is important for corporations as research has shown they get recognized in the communities for doing the projects. “People take what they do with their business and look for ways through sports to reach out to different groups to increase their presence.” Still, the only way the companies will continue to invest in their communities is if they get a return on that investment and if they see clear benefits of what they are doing. Melissa Pine, Sr. Manager Sponsorship Marketing & Special Events at the WTA believes that corporations want to get involved because sport has the ability to reach people. “Sport offers massive opportunities to organizations. You would be hard pressed to find another industry that really touches people as much as sport. The passion it instills in people, how it inspires people.”
One of the companies that recognizes that and is one of great investors in sports worldwide is Turkish Airlines. Their Deputy General Manager Mr. Faruk Cizmecioglu explained the importance of responsible investment for their company.
“It is very important for Turkish Airlines to be responsible, not only for Turkey but in the entire world because our slogan is ‘Globally Yours’. The desire of human beings is to feel important, and sporting activities give people who participate the feeling of being important. Kids, young people, or adults build self-confidence by participating in sports, and that is the case in all countries. This matches our values at Turkish Airlines, we promote any kind of sport activity; we promote these kinds of values in life.”
The latest examples of successful partnership between basketball and business is the One Team project where Euroleague Basketball, Turkish Airlines and Euroleague clubs have all come together in an attempt to help communities. One Team is about using basketball to help against the entire arena of exclusions that are present in societies, and Mr. Cizmecioglu explained Turkish Airlines’ involvement in the project.
“Sport has no relation with race, no relation with religion no relation with any type of social ranking in society. At Turkish Airlines, we would like to work with sporting activities to interact with people and communities. It is a mutual way of communication with people. Also, physical activity is important in life and we would like to encourage people to participate in sporting activities. We fly to more than 200 destinations around the world, and we are a kind of bridge between cultures and enable people to interact with each other,” Mr. Cizmecioglu said. “We like to work with sport clubs and to make people understand team play, leadership, honesty, respect for each other and all other values consistent with universal principles. We like to combine all these principles together and to communicate with people, and with the One Team project, we try to help young people to take part in activities and to get in touch with famous basketball players and coaches.”
Michael Richardson, the lead Education Officer at Tigers Sport, Education Trust and a One Team coach agrees that sport can be used in many different ways to bring people and communities together. But he stressed it is not just by playing game, but by giving direct benefit to that community and addressing a specific need of a community through sports. One Team is a good example of it. “This project is an opportunity to bring communities together under one banner to face different social problems and through the power of basketball, with players and the clubs, like we could see Thursday when players from different clubs came together for the benefit of other people.”
One of the partners for the One Team project in Istanbul is the Turkish Basketball Federation, and their Secretary General Mr. Ali Ozsoy pledged that this organization will continue to give back to the community.
“Basketball has the power to change people’s lives. At the Turkish Basketball Federation, we focus on three topics where we believe we can make difference - mental and discipline acts, women’s empowerment and cultural understanding. In the last 20 years, we have worked really hard to become one of the strongest federations in the world. We have succeeded and it is time for us to impact this in our sport.”