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The Aspirational Bowl

The Chick-Fil-A Bowl: it’s the bowl all other bowl games should aspire to be.  Not only is it a success in terms of ticket sales and local economic impact, but it also ranks first amongst bowls in charitable giving each and every year.

The Chick-Fil-A Bowl consistently makes charitable donations totaling around $1.2 million.  While other bowls may include complimentary tickets in their donation calculation, the Chick-Fil-A Bowl does not.  That money is spent giving back to SEC and ACC schools, supporting Winshape Homes (a Chick-Fil-A charity) and funding the Play It Smart program in Atlanta Public Schools, amongst other things.

The Chick-Fil-A Bowl Challenge is an annual golf tournament that had an overall charitable impact of $571,000 this year.  Of that, $415,000 represented the scholarship purse to the twelve participating SEC and ACC schools, with the rest going to charities unrelated to the universities, namely Chick-Fil-A’s Winshape Homes.  The Chick-Fil-A Bowl’s VP of Communications, Matt Garvey, tells me the coaches that play in this tournament take it very seriously.  They recruit their partner, who is a celebrity alumnus of the university.  If that partner doesn’t measure up, they have no qualms in finding a new one for the next year.

Another way the Chick-Fil-A Bowl supports the colleges in the SEC and ACC is by providing endowed scholarships to the participating schools each year.  For each appearance a school makes in the bowl game, a $100,000 scholarship is endowed at the school, which is perpetual in duration.*

Perhaps the biggest impact made by the Chick-Fil-A Bowl, however, is its involvement in the Play It Smart program.  Run by the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame, Inc., Play It Smart’s mission is to “”to promote the power of amateur football in developing the qualities of leadership, sportsmanship, competitive zeal and the drive for academic excellence in America’s young people.”  The program accomplishes this by giving program participants an “academic coach.”  More than a tutor, this person goes through training to be a mentor, advocate and counselor to the student.  They help the student set goals, prepare for SATs and ACTs, apply for colleges and much more.

Since 2007, the Chick-Fil-A Bowl has spent $200,000 a year to ensure that the Play It Smart program is in each of the high schools in the Atlanta Public Schools system.  And now they’ve found a way to link this program to the colleges that participate in their bowl.  Any student who completes the Play It Smart program in Atlanta Public Schools and then chooses a school that has received an endowed scholarship as a result of participation in the bowl is now guaranteed to be a recipient of the scholarship when they attend that school.  What an amazing way to give back to the community and involve the schools that participate in the bowl!

*If you’re looking at the Chick-Fil-A Bowl’s tax returns, you’ll only see half of that amount. Mr. Garvey tells me that Chick-Fil-A provides the other half of each scholarship because of its strong desire to be part of giving back to the schools.

This article offers the personal observations of Kristi Dosh, and does not represent the views of her law firm or its clients.  Any information contained herein does not constitute legal advice. Consult your own attorney for legal advice on these matters.

About Kristi Dosh

Kristi A. Dosh is the founder of BusinessofCollegeSports.com and has served as a sports business analyst and contributor for outlets such as Forbes, ESPN, SportsBusiness Journal, Bleacher Report, SB Nation and more. She is also the author of a book on the business of college football, Saturday Millionaires. Kristi is a sought-after consultant and speaker on topics related to the business of college sports and a former practicing attorney. Click to learn more
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