Cleveland’s teams push for meaningful wins, lasting change

CLEVELAND (AP) — The Indians, Browns and Cavaliers are used to being judged by their win-loss records. These days they’re eyeing more meaningful victories.

The city’s professional sports franchises, which partnered in a unique alliance in August to address social and economic injustices across Northeast Ohio, are initially focusing their efforts on voting, law enforcement relations and education.

To this point, there’s been mostly dialogue to spread awareness and identify other problem areas along with a few initiatives, including an early voting campaign and regular meetings with local and state law enforcement organizations.

There’s been some action. There’s a need for more.

“We want to make an impact,” Indians President of Baseball Operations Chris Antonetti said. “We want to make sustainable impact.”

On Wenesday, Antonetti, Browns General Manager Andrew Berry and Cavaliers GM Koby Altman provided a progress report on some of the teams’ goals and agendas.

During an online discussion, Altman stressed how it’s essential for the teams — and players — to utilize their powerful platforms.

“You have to take a risk,” Altman said. “We’re going to put ourselves out there and we’re going to measure ourselves and we’re going to measure ourselves with success. In each of those pillars, show the wins and losses.

”We’re taking the responsibility. We’re putting ourselves out there. We’re going to have continued investment into these spaces. It’s on us to deliver and we’re excited about the challenge.”

One area identified by the teams in needing immediate attention is underserved communities lacking internet capabilities. That inability to connect can inhibit learning in school and stunt economic growth.

Earlier this week, Cavs coach J.B. Bickerstaff and his wife, Nikki, donated iPads and a full year of internet service to select Cleveland-area high school seniors. The small gesture is the kind of thing the alliance hopes motivates others to activism.

“We want to make an impact, and we want to make a sustainable impact,” Antonetti said. “So when you fast forward two or three years from now and look back and say, Wow, this group made an impact in these areas in the Cleveland community. We did it by bringing people together, by connecting people and having conversations and committing resources.

“We didn’t just intend to act, but there’s action and sustained action.”

Berry, one of only two Black GMs in the NFL, feels Cleveland’s teams — and sports organizations across the country — share a responsibility to do more to make a difference.

“Sports is embedded in the fabric of our society,” he said. “We just carry such a huge platform and such visibility and have so many resources that for something that matters beyond the court or the white lines or baseball diamonds, if we can’t be leaders in the space or significant contributors, I really feel like it’s a shame on us.”

Added Antonetti: “We have to be a force for positive change because standings on the sidelines isn’t OK.”

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