Do NBA players really make a difference in their community?

In the course of watching the NBA playoffs, I’ve seen a lot of commercials about how NBA stars are active in their communities. While this might be good PR, do we know anything about whether these efforts have any effect? Perhaps the NBA doesn’t care as long as they portray the image that they desire…but I suspect many of these occasional forays into the neighborhood are just that.

I suppose people could cite particular athletes that are active in the community. They do exist. But on the whole, do these professional sports leagues really care about structural inequalities and the average citizen’s daily fate? Perhaps a more foundational question is to even ask whether they should even as the commercials try to suggest that they do.

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