Yahoo Sports, Big League Impact launch charitable partnership for Fantasy Football

CC Sabathia (center) hosts his fantasy draft on Yahoo as part of the Big League Impact initiative. (Yahoo)

With the 2018 Fantasy Football season just around the corner, Yahoo Sports and Big League Impact have announced a first-of-its-kind partnership that adds a charitable dynamic to the world’s most popular fantasy sports platform.

The collaboration mixes the worlds of baseball and Fantasy Football — a popular pastime of Major League Baseball players — through a unique weekly charity league that follows a DFS salary cap format. Each week, a player and his cause, beginning with the Yankees’ CC Sabathia in Week 1, is featured. Fans enter by buying into the weekly featured fantasy league to win prizes like signed baseballs, jerseys, and other unique items that the player will personally offer. Yahoo will then donate 100% of those proceeds towards that player’s initiative. 

“This is an extraordinary opportunity for fans to learn about what star players are already doing off the field to create impact, and to engage in charitable giving alongside them,” said Raymond St. Martin, Big League Impact’s executive director.

Big League Impact, founded in 2013 by St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright, is a player-led organization whose athletes from veteran ballplayers like Sabathia and San Francisco Giants outfielder Hunter Pence to rising stars like Mets pitcher Steven Matz, Diamondbacks shortstop Nick Ahmed and Reds catcher Tucker Barnhart — personally host events and competitions to raise money for causes they care about to benefit those in need in the US and around the world.

“Running a charity golf tournament or fundraising gala started feeling monotonous,” said Wainwright. “Big League Impact began as a crazy idea I brainstormed with teammates and coaches during hundreds of sessions shagging baseballs in the outfield during batting practice over a few big league seasons.

“Since we knew that everyone was already playing Fantasy Football, fans and players alike, why not put the two together to create an experience that was unlike anything else out there? What started five years ago with four players in one city, St. Louis, has spread to 11 cities with over 100 players participating in our fantasy competitions. As a result, we’ve raised over $2.5 million to support over 45 charities.”

Big League Impact’s athletes’ 2018 initiatives include serving one million meals in the Bay Area to address child hunger (Pence), building and funding operations for a secondary school in Haiti (Kyle Gibson, Brian Dozier, Logan Morrison, and Zach Duke), building and restoring women’s refuge centers for sex-trafficking survivors (Miles Mikolas and Steven Souza Jr.), providing clean water for 8,000 people in Uganda (Austin Hedges), creating a scholarship fund for the children of fallen first responders (Steven Matz), providing food and clothing for the children of Syrian refugees (Dee Gordon), and helping decrease the infant mortality rate in Ohio and Indiana (Barnhart). In the Dominican Republic, players are working to restore nine communities by building sustainable farms, water irrigation, clean water systems, and baseball fields (Michael Wacha, Dan Straily, Luke Weaver, Ahmed, Jack Flaherty, Mike Mayers, Sam Tuivailala, and Tyler Lyons).

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The organization takes a portion of dollars raised from each of its markets and combines those funds to apply towards one project each year: The Big League Impact Global Initiative. This year’s project is a collaboration with Water Mission to provide clean drinking water for 3,000 people and sanitation for 300 in Haiti.

“The money raised from the Global Initiative from 2013 supported a sanitation project in Honduras,” said Water Mission’s Scott Linebrink, himself a 12-year MLB pitcher. “We drastically improved the living conditions for thousands of people through the constructions of latrines.”

The players also each host their own season-long leagues, all of which will be hosted on Yahoo Fantasy, that kick off with live VIP draft events across the country. Sabathia started the tour in New York on Friday, followed by the Mets’ Matz, who brings Jacob deGrom and Doc Gooden to Citi Field (8/22). The rest of the events include Minneapolis and Arizona (8/25), San Diego (8/28), Cincinnati and San Francisco (8/29), and St. Louis (8/31). Proceeds from these events go towards each player’s campaign, and fans can purchase tickets at BigLeagueImpact.org.

“Like all fantasy football fans, the baseball players love to draft, they love being in leagues, competing, and sharing that experience with fellow fantasy fans who share the same passion,” said St. Martin. “Participating in something meaningful, whether it’s for $5 or $25,000, they’re able to be a part of the story of what these players accomplishing in their efforts off the field.”

“It’s exciting for us to partner with Yahoo Sports and their incredible Fantasy platform and fanbase,” said Wainwright. “Our ultimate goal is have the greatest reach to do the most good in the world. This partnership means that together, we have a chance to positively impact communities and people in a way that we haven’t even comprehended until now.”

Yahoo Sports general manager Geoff Reiss is equally excited about the partnership.

“We are proud that Big League Impact has chosen Yahoo Sports as a means to make a bigger impact on the causes that are most important to them,” said Reiss. “We all love playing Yahoo Fantasy Football; the idea that we can benefit others while doing so is incredibly exciting.”

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