The Arizona Diamondbacks
(March 2008)

Believe it or not, all ethics-related professional sports stories aren’t about dog-fighting quarterbacks, steroid-using pitchers, point-shaving basketball refs, cheating football coaches and the fans and sportswriters who will torture logic and decency making excuses for them. No, there are good ethics stories out there in the wide world of sports, and one of the best is the good will and generosity of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The Diamondbacks realized that many of their fans can’t afford to get good seats at major league baseball games, which now tend to cost as much as tickets to a Broadway musical. So it announced that it would give free season tickets to a select group of needy fans, based on team loyalty and hardship. The team accepted applications, and then decided on seven of these applicants for 2008 season tickets, including field box seats to all 81 home games, two preseason exhibitions, and parking passes.

A struggling family of seven was one of the winners. The parents had asked for two season tickets to rotate among the kids. They got seven full season tickets, one for everybody. One award went a man shot down by an infamous serial sniper in 2006, in response to an entreaty by his brother and cousin. The Diamondbacks awarded season tickets to all three.

Another went to a grandmother who had raised two grandkids by herself. A neighbor nominated her, explaining that she had used baseball to teach her grandchildren math. The Diamondbacks gave the woman three season tickets, so she could see games with her now-grown charges.

Mary Lou and Charles Tichenor had been season ticket holders since 1998, seldom missing a game. Then Mrs. Tichenor got muscular dystrophy, and the bills and pills became over-whelming. They had to give up their tickets. Now they can go to games again.

Sure, the program has become a public relations bonanza for the Diamondbacks, but no team had done anything like this before, and now other teams, including other sports, are instituting their own programs. Like so many ways we can be kind, considerate and generous to one another, this didn’t cost much. It just required that an organization make an effort to be nice, because it could, and because it seemed like the right thing to do. Organizations don’t do that enough. Very few of us do. That’s one of the ways Ethics Heroes contribute to society.

They remind us of what we might be able to do.

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