A Look Behind This Week's Column: Charity and Basketball

So in something I'd like to do a bit more frequently, I'm going to use The Chronicle's Sports Blog to give you, my dear readers, a deeper look at my weekly column and also the chance to ask me questions or sound off on what might be on your mind.

In today's Chronicle, I wrote "Making more of a statement," a column that started out with a simple question—how much of the ticket sales from Duke's game in the 2K Sports Classic go to Coaches vs. Cancer?—but ended up exposing what I believe to be a bigger issue surrounding philanthropy and Duke Basketball. Before I continue, I just want to say that I hope I made it abundantly clear that Coach K is very, very generous and is so vital to the Durham community. From nationally renowned charities such as the Jimmy V Foundation to smaller, local charities such as The Rory David Deutsch Foundation (which a grand total of five people outside of the suburbs of Chicago probably know about), Krzyzewski has made more of an impact than he likely would ever admit. The point of my column was not to repudiate any of these things. The point was that for a coach and a program that has put such an emphasis on philanthropy and of producing good people, not just good basketball players (sorry I couldn't find an old link to the American Express commercial), I found it hard to believe that no one I talked to at Duke could tell me anything about how much money from the 2K Sports Classic games went to charity nor could they give me a good idea of the aggregate work done by Coach K and the Duke program.

I understand the value in doing good things for the community just for the sake of doing good things, but when you are as high-profile a program as Duke, I think it's important to keep track of what is being done. If the program does not give money to charity and instead sells tickets and memorabilia for auctions, then have some sort of ballpark figure to paint the picture of just how great an impact you are making.

Because part of the responsibility—and I think, the beauty—of being such a prominent program, is that you can draw attention to the issues and organizations you are supporting. And I think Coach K would agree.

Every year, the Sports Editor of The Chronicle gets an hour-long sitdown interview with Krzyzewski. I remember distinctly Coach K telling me that he would like to see more stories about all the good work his team does in the community. A year and a half later, though, I went to write that story, and no one I talked to, including people who, in my opinion, should be well-versed in this material, could give me the talking points about Duke's philanthropic contributions. Moreover, the person who took the most time to tell me how important and incredible Coach K's charitable efforts are—who called me after business hours and talked to me for a half hour because it was just that important to him that I understood the difference Krzyzewski makes—wasn't even employed by Duke. I honestly think Coach K places a high importance on charity, I just wish the people around him did a better job of being able to share that with everyone else. It would be good for the program and good for the organizations they choose to support.

Now it's your turn. What do you think? Post your comments or questions below, or e-mail them to mhs6@duke.edu, and I will try to get back to you to the best of my humble ability.


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