Date of Award


Degree Name

PhD Leadership Studies

Dissertation Committee

Hans Peter Schmitz, PhD, Chairperson; Zachary Green, PhD, Committee Member; Leslie Nixon, PhD, Committee Member


Black Philanthropy, Philanthropy, Sports, Football, Generosity


The term philanthropist typically conjures up images of older, wealthy White males. When taking account of a more diverse population, the term generosity provides a more inclusive framework to understanding the experiences of those marginalized from the study and practice of philanthropy. Using an interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) approach, this qualitative investigation explored one of several groups of individuals engaging in acts of generosity and brought the Black athlete experience into academic and philanthropic conversations. This research provided knowledge from real-life experiences of current and former Black NFL Players (BNPs) to inform various stakeholders who seek to support their activities. To date, the generosity of this group has rarely been the subject of investigation among mainstream philanthropy scholarship.

Coates (2015, p. 13) stated, “In accepting both the chaos of history and the fact of my total end I was free to truly consider how I wish to live—specifically, how do I live free in this Black body.” Some Black NFL players (BNP) have chosen to live their lives as servant–leaders, shaping their identities as those who care for the well-being of others and are not defined by football or societal expectations. BNP are more than the hypermasculine images seen on the football field. Using Bronfenbrenner’s (1977/2005) bioecological system as a conceptual framework, the study centered the BNPs’ voices and experiences and explored how individual and organizational interactions with and around them have impacted their philanthropic development.

Findings from this study documented the importance of role models and exposure to resources throughout the philanthropic development process as was apparent in the eight participants’ experiences. It was essential for a Black man to see other Black men achieving the level of success they aspire to achieve. The general consensus among the participants was that the support provided by the NFL and various stakeholders could be better tailored to their needs with regard to developing a philanthropic persona. If players can better position themselves financially while in the League, they will have a better chance of sustaining their acts of generosity. For the participants, generosity was a learned behavior fostered by individuals and institutions.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access


Leadership Studies