Chicago’s five major pro sports teams are once again joining forces to try to help those most affected by the city’s gun violence.
The Chicago Sports Alliance — formed by White Sox and Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts, Bears chairman George McCaskey, Blackhawks chairman Rocky Wirtz and Bulls president/COO Michael Reinsdorf — renewed its $1 million pledge to support grants for mentorship programs and organizations fighting gun violence.
“I don’t think the sports teams have ever come together like this — here or anywhere else,” Ricketts said Friday.
Ricketts was compelled to join the alliance because he thinks it’s important to bring more attention to one of the biggest problems the city faces.
Asked if Chicago’s violent reputation was a driving force in the Chicago Sports Alliance, Ricketts said: “First and foremost, it’s really a concern for the typically young men in those neighborhoods. But it does reflect poorly on our city.
“When you talk about Chicago around the world, people think of violence. And that’s not the way we want to represent ourselves. Anything we can do to help the people who are trapped in that cycle of violence and change the image of the city is something we should try to do.”
The alliance’s $1 million donation will be split among the University of Chicago Crime Lab, which develops crime-reduction strategies; Choose to Change, a youth-therapy and mentorship program that partners with Youth Advocate Programs; and the Rapid Employment and Development Initiative, a transitional job training program.
While the alliance’s $1 million pledge, which comes out to only $200,000 per team, is just a sliver compared to what each of the franchises is worth, Jerry Reinsdorf said the group’s main goal is to signal a call to action.
“The idea of getting everyone together is to attract other people,” Jerry Reinsdorf said. “All these teams individually do a lot. What we’re doing as a group, as an alliance, financially, it isn’t a lot of money. But it’s a symbol, and the idea is to try to bring other businesses out to get involved.”
And it seems to be working. In the last year, the alliance inspired Ken Griffin, founder of Citadel, to donate $10 million to the University of Chicago Crime Lab.
“If people want to do good, they’ll find a way to do good,” Jerry Reinsdorf said.