You may or may not think of your MLS team much beyond how well or badly they did in their last game, who was injured, what time the next game kicks off, or the price of stadium beer.
But there’s a lot MLS clubs do to not only connect with but also benefit their communities. There’s a lot of speculation about what MLS needs to do in order to spread and thrive in USA. Community involvement and interaction might be a less spectacular and slower way for the league to grow than digging up the money to import star foreign players and their egos, but it has to be a longer lasting and more secure foundation.
For example, last week through the Bay Area All-Star Scholarship program Santa Clara High School senior Damont Hardnett got a treat during a fourth period class when the Earthquakes presented him with a $3,000 donation toward college fees. Hardnett is the Earthquakes’ third recipient of the award. The award recognizes him for maintaining a 3.67 cumulative GPA, while excelling at various sports, being President of the Black Student Union, and ASB Athletic Commissioner in his Leadership class. Hardnett also accumulated over 200 voluntary community service hours, all while working a part-time job. That’s some work rate!
Since 2012, the San Jose Earthquakes have joined the other Bay Area sports franchises; the Golden State Warriors, Oakland Athletics, Oakland Raiders, San Francisco 49ers, San Francisco Giants and the San Jose Sharks, each selects one recipient to earn the prestigious college scholarship in hopes to promote goals of higher education in Bay Area classrooms.
The Quakes also have a deal with a major national bank to provide a donation in the amount of $250 for every Earthquakes goal scored in the regular season, home and away. The money is donated to local youth soccer and athletic department programs. In 2013 the 33 goals scored raised $8,250.
Other community programs provide fitness incentives, free youth and adult 4v4 tournaments, and free soccer clinics around the Bay Area.
Spread the love, grow the game. The communities are the fans.