Sports Heroes and Private Action for the Common Good: Philanthropy Lesson (11th)

9, 10, 11, 12

The learners will define philanthropy and determine how being philanthropic affects the public good as exemplified in the lives of famous people who have acted for the public good.

Lesson Rating 
PrintOne Class Period with optional extender

The learner will:

  • define philanthropy and identify the benefits, of being philanthropic, for the common good.
  • identify philanthropic actions and their impact.

Access to the Internet to research sports heroes with philanthropic causes

Student printouts of handouts:

  •  Sports Heroes Analysis Chart
  • Matching Game
  • The Match Game: Philanthropist Stories


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Write Jackie Robinson, Arthur Ashe, and Jackie Joyner-Kerseeon the chalkboard. Ask learners if they know who these individuals are. What is their sport? (baseball, tennis andtrack) Why is each well known? (They excelled in their sports and were excellent athletes.) What do they have in common? (various answers possible-they were great achievers in their sport; two were famous long ago; they broke racial barriers) Explain to the learners that they will be learning something else about these celebrity athletes that they probably do not know.

  2. Day One:

    Have the learners recall or learn the definition of philanthropy (the giving of one's time, talent or treasure and taking action for the common good) and philanthropist (one who performs philanthropy or acts philanthropically).

  3. Ask the learners to suggest examples of philanthropic people, organizations and/or philanthropic actions. Encourage them to share from their own experiences. (These examples might include Martin Luther King, Jr., Salvation Army, Red Cross blood donors, Habitat for Humanity, soup kitchen volunteers, school and youth group service projects, civic participation through advocacy for improving communities.) Discuss how these examples of philanthropic people, actions and organizations have benefited the community, state, nation or world, enhancing the common good?

  4. Hold a class discussion on the question: Is being philanthropic part of responsible citizenship?

  5. Explain that they are going to learn about the responsible citizenship and philanthropic acts of Jackie Robinson, Arthur Ashe and Jackie Joyner-Kersee. Distribute Sports Heroes Analysis Chart handout.

  6. Divide the class into groups of three to five learners and assign each group one of the athletes listed on the chart. Using Derek Jeter as an example, show learners how to fill in the chart for their athlete:

    • Hero: Derek Jeter
    • Sports Achievement: NY Yankees Shortstop 
    • Philanthropic Achievements: Jeter began the Turn-2 Foundation  
    • Impact: Children avoid drug addiction early 
  7. Have each group research their sports hero, filling in the information on the chart. The information may be gathered as a research project on the Internet or in the library.

  8. Optional Day Two:

  9. As a whole class, share the information from the chart completed on the previous day. Ask the students how the information was new or surprising to them.

  10. Distribute The Matching Game “Game Board”  and tell the learners that they are going to play “The Match Game.” In this game the people listed on the ‘game board’ are famous philanthropists. The challenge is for the learners to see how much they might already know about the philanthropists listed on the game board. Randomly, read each philanthropist story (Handout Six) and give the learners time to find the name of the philanthropist that they think the story most represents and have them place an “x” that box. The first learners to ‘”x”-out four across or five down /or five on an angle “wins” the match game. Verify the correct responses by having the learner call out the names of the people they have ‘x’-ed to be sure that the names match the stories that were read. Playing this game a few times will give the learners more opportunities to learn about the philanthropists and their contributions to the public good.

  11. Reflection: Ask the learners to state the possible the impact of the philanthropists in the “Match Game” game and how that has enhanced the common good. Have the learners draw comparisons between the three sports heroes and the other famous people they learned about in the “Match Game.”


The learners will be assessed based upon their classroom participation, discussion, and involvement in their small groups. (If appropriate, a peer assessment of small group participation may also be considered.)

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Define philanthropy to include giving and sharing; volunteering; and private individual action intended for the common good. Explain how a volunteer individual/group can act for the common good.
      2. Benchmark HS.2 Identify and discuss examples of philanthropy and charity in modern culture.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 02. Diverse Cultures
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Analyze philanthropic traditions of diverse cultural groups and their contributions to civil society.
      2. Benchmark HS.7 Identify and give examples of the important roles women and minorities have played in the civil society sector in history.
    2. Standard PCS 03. Philanthropy and Economics
      1. Benchmark HS.4 Give examples of how civil society sector giving by individuals and corporations can impact communities.
  3. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Define and give examples of motivations for giving and serving.