More than 40 executives and athletes from professional and Olympic sports — including eight Princeton alumni — came to campus Dec. 5 for the third annual Princeton Sports Symposium, a six-hour event designed to bring students together with experts in the field.
Mark Shapiro ’89, executive vice president and general manager of the Cleveland Indians, headlined the opening session, a discussion with Shaprio and his father, sports agent and lawyer Ronald Shapiro, led by Sports Illustrated baseball writer Tom Verducci.
The panelists answered questions, including a few about the fate of pro sports in the current economy. All agreed that sports teams are not recession-proof, with declining ticket sales and sponsorships already affecting most franchises. The younger Shapiro, who is at Major League Baseball’s winter meetings this week, predicted shorter free-agent contracts this year, in response to the economy.
Each speaker talked about his path to the business of sport. Verducci broke in as a three-month intern at Newsday, while the elder Shapiro negotiated his first baseball contract for Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson a few months after helping Robinson navigate a sticky situation involving a tax shelter.
Mark Shapiro loved baseball, but did not know exactly how to turn it into a career. “My father counseled me not to get involved in the front office of baseball, so like a typical 22-year-old, I defied him,” he said. After sending letters to every team in baseball, he took a job with the only team that offered one — the last-place Indians — and over the last 18 years, he ascended the ranks, helping to build Cleveland into a playoff team and frequent contender.
As the session ended, Verducci jokingly urged Indians fans to come forward and suggest off-season trades. Shapiro smiled and replied, “I get a lot of free advice. I could always use a little more.”
Teams wrap toys for local kids
What could bring hundreds of Princeton athletes together to sit Indian style on the Frist Campus Center floor? Group yoga class?
Think again. Dec. 3 marked Athletes in Action’s ninth annual Teams and Toys event. More than 50 campus groups, including all of Princeton’s varsity teams and several club teams, sororities, and dance groups, bought and wrapped holiday gifts for more than 180 underprivileged children who participate in Princeton’s Community House projects.
Katie Cox, a senior captain of the women’s lacrosse team, called the event a “great way to kick-off the holiday season as a team.” This year, the women’s lacrosse team was asked to buy gifts for a family of five girls. While shopping for their presents, the team “tried to imagine what we would have liked at their ages.” It seems that the men’s lacrosse team followed the same logic, buying armloads of basketballs, dartboards, movies, and DVDs.
The Teams and Toys event has become a vital part of Athletes in Action (AIA), one of Princeton’s Christian ministry groups. Farrell Harding ’10, who heads the group, explains that “AIA looks at this event as a way to serve God by giving back to our community and campus.” But AIA does not discriminate, Harding said. Whether moved by religious devotion or just the spirit of giving back, all are welcome to lend a hand. By Sarah Harrison ’09
Above, the women’s lacrosse team wraps toys Dec. 3. (Photo by Sarah Harrison ’09)
U.S. cannot let up on foreign aid, panelists say
The United States must continue to provide humanitarian aid to developing countries despite the economic crisis at home, four panelists argued Dec. 2 at Robertson Hall.
The panel, entitled “What are American Obligations to Financing Poverty Relief and Global Health in Economic Hard Times?,” featured Woodrow Wilson School professor and former World Bank researcher Jeff Hammer, ethicist and professor Peter Singer, politics professor Charles Beitz, and president and founder of Orphans International Worldwide (OIWW) Jim Luce.
Hammer admitted that he was “a little puzzled” by the panel’s title, as it gave the misguided impression that foreign aid is a major part of the current U.S. budget. In actuality, Hammer noted, the U.S. government budgeted only $16 billion — about 0.5 percent of the national budget — for humanitarian aid in 2008.
“We spent more on Citibank last weekend,” he added.
Singer stressed the potential impact of individuals on humanitarian aid, arguing that “we shouldn’t just be relying on governments to do something about these issues.” Luce, who founded OIWW after witnessing the dire conditions of orphaned children in Indonesia, spoke to Singer’s point, saying he felt he had a “personal obligation” to help.
While Beitz agreed with Singer and Luce, he stressed the role of the U.S. government, saying that “to neglect the potential of rich countries’ governments is a mistake.” By Sarah Harrison ’09