Charity has gotten tangled into a controversy over ESPN’s decision to give an hour of its programming schedule on Thursday to LeBron James, the NBA star who used the network’s airwaves to announce that he will jion the Miami Heat next season.
As part of the deal, ESPN agreed to donate the proceeds of all of the advertising sales for the show to Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
Many in the media world are decrying the event, saying that it hurts ESPN’s journalistic credibility.
Mitch Albom, who is also the author of Tuesdays With Morrie, is especially critical of the decision.
And Mr. Albom writes on a Detroit Free Press blog that the donation only adds to the absurdity of the event.
“A prime-time event? To announce a free-agent signing? And don’t point out that some proceeds go to charity. You want to give to charity, quietly write a check. Don’t get a network to do it for you so it gets to pump its shows and you get to shower yourself in international coverage—while calling it philanthropy.
“The NBA has embarrassed itself here. The media have embarrassed themselves. And a guy who calls himself ‘King’ may be beyond embarrassment, which is truly embarrassing.”
What do you think? Is the donation to the Boys & Girls Clubs truly philanthropic? How should the organization respond to the controversy?