When it came time to draft a quarterback in the HAHA’s Hospitality Heroes fantasy football league, Municipal Brew Works co-owner Jim Goodman drafted Cincinnati Bengals QB Joe Burrow.
Then, to a chorus of boos and several dirty looks, he donned his Pittsburgh Steelers jersey and joked he’d make the Cincinnati superstar sit on his team’s bench. But Goodman said he actually won’t bench Burrow on his fantasy team.
This new fantasy football league is presented by the Hamilton Amusement and Hospitality Association, or HAHA, and Tyler McCleary, a co-founding member, said it was an idea that came together “fairly quickly” as the 2023 NFL season approached.
Fantasy sports is a multi-billion dollar industry that’s been around for decades, and fantasy football is the most popular, with tens of millions of people playing. Brody Ruihley, assistant professor of Sport Leadership and Management at Miami University, said in a podcast interview a few years ago, “We see different things as to why people compete.”
For this 12-team league founded just a couple of weeks ago, their motivation was to help their community. And as Brad Reid, with Nicc & Norm’s Tavern, told the Journal-News, “Why not (participate)? It’s for charity.”
The league is organized in a charity-take-all format, where the winning team will see their organization take all the winnings: $1,200, as the entry fee is $100 per team.
But to drum up awareness for these various organizations and raise extra funds for the non-winning teams, the businesses will do various things at their establishments. That could be a dine-to-donate at bars and restaurants, having organizations come in to speak, hanging flyers and posters, and just having conversations with patrons.
Municipal Brew Works is playing for Companions on a Journey. They have an established relationship with proceeds from their Woltermelon Blonde beer going to the agency, a grief support social service organization. But they’ll do more as the season unfolds.
“We definitely want to create exposure for what they do because it could be the elderly, it could be children, it could be survivors of tragedy, it could be those who struggle with mental health (that they help),” Goodman said during the draft at The Casual Pint on Sunday. “These folks come in during people’s worst situation and help people get their lives back on track.”
Reid said he and owner Nicc & Norm’s owner Nicc Meece had just established their own charity, Grateful Bikers, and will support various children’s causes. They’re still discussing how they want to spend the money, but one project will help pay off school lunch accounts in arrears.
“We’re trying to build awareness of that first,” said Reid, but said they’ll be collecting additional donations.
Patrick Stansell, with Billy Yanks, said their charity will be Butler County Success, another organization that supports children.
“It’s important for us that every kid has the path they need and backing toward a bright future,” he said, adding Billy Yanks will leverage their social media accounts to help further the awareness.
Matt Nash, the general manager at the Courtyard by Marriott, said they chose Animal Friends Humane Society because “we have a hotel full of pet lovers,” and will encourage donations from guests and employees, “so whether if we win or whether we lose, we’ll still have something to donate at the end of the season.”
Tyler McCleary, the commissioner of the league and general manager at Tano Bistro, will support HYPE, a nonprofit operated by Shaquila “Pastor Shaq” Mathews that empowers local youth through leadership and volunteerism.
“Pastor Shaq’s done a lot of good around the city, and I want to help her out,” he said, adding he may have Mathews in at the restaurant to help raise awareness about her charity.
One of the establishments had to drop from the league, but McCleary’s wife, Kate, took over that team and will be supporting Inspiration Studios. Awareness and additional donation efforts supporting Inspiration Studios will also be done at Tano Bistro.
HAHA’s Hospitality Heroes fantasy football league
The Casual Pint- supporting YMCA Central
Pour House - supporting Hamilton Community Foundation
Basil 1791 0 supporting 17 Strong
Wings on Brookwood - supporting Boys & Girls Club
Billy Yanks - supporting Butler County Success
Municipal Brew Works - supporting Companions on a Journey
Chick ‘N Cone - supporting West Side Little League
Nicc & Norms - supporting Grateful Bikers
Tano Bistro - supporting HYPE
Pinball Garage - supporting Big Brothers Big Sisters Butler County
Courtyard by Marriott Hamilton - supporting Animal Friends Humane Society
Inspiration Studios is also being represented by a team