This article was originally published through the Win-Win-Win Substack
I have lived in and around Baltimore almost my entire life. From K-12, I went to seven different schools. Introducing myself and my story is not a new thing for me.
I am Eric Dorsey: the half-Black, half-Argentine sports fanatic from Baltimore.
This is not just a story about my diversity. However, acting as if my background and experiences have not shaped who I am today and the dreams I have for the future would be a lie.
“You are the whitest black kid I know.”
I heard this phrase many times in my life. It's a stereotype I have been trying to dismiss for what feels like my whole life. I was the biracial friend that parents were not afraid of. Still, I felt out of place as my parents dropped me off in my friends’ neighborhoods.
I was too dark for the white kids and too light for the black kids.
Yet, both groups let me in. Both groups accepted me. And at the same time, I felt that both groups rejected me.
I had to learn to look above whether I was being accepted or not and just take what was in front of me.
(2 year old me working on my soccer form)
I went to Stevenson University and got my Bachelor’s in Accounting. I always knew that the CPA path wasn’t for me. Nothing at all against my CPA friends, I just knew I was going to do something different.
While at Stevenson, I was a 2-year captain for the Men’s Soccer team. Anyone around that program knows what players had to overcome to keep the program alive. Three coaches in four years forced a group of us young adults to step into leadership positions that presented challenges that honestly really sucked back then, but today I am grateful for.
(Stevenson University Men’s Soccer Game - September 2017)
While working as a staff accountant at a CPA firm, I pursued my Masters in Sports Industry Management at Georgetown University's School of Continuing Studies. Going to Georgetown allowed me to go from the accountant wanting to be in sports to an event operator and partnership liaison.
In March 2019, I became President of the AIM Sports Conference, a student-led networking and learning event. I was able to talk with high-level leaders from across the sports and entertainment industry, with the purpose of building partnerships and creating opportunities for mentorships.
For the February 2020 conference, my team and I were able to secure 100+ attendees and over 15 partnerships with sports and entertainment businesses.
Other experiences like the 2019 MLB World Series and working on the 2020 seasons for the Baltimore Orioles, DC United, and the DC Defenders provided me with a variety of opportunities to learn event operations and personnel management.
(2020 AIM Sports Conference Team - February 2020)
Everything happens for a reason. I am proud of my background and believe that all of my experiences have led to my purpose in creating Baltimore United during my capstone project at Georgetown.
People from all walks of life consider themselves to be from Baltimore. There is a pride in this city that can bring people together. Whether inside the city limits, or in the suburbs, the influence of "Charm City" spreads far beyond just the city/county line.
We see and hear Baltimore in the news in negative ways constantly. From murders to government scandals, the constant bombardment is starting to create a disconnect in the unity among city residents.
I have always wanted to find a way to get everyone on the same page and facing the same direction towards finding and implementing solutions to some of our biggest challenges. So, I created the idea of Baltimore United. I wanted to show off how this city has the personnel and strength to get things done.
(Business of Sports Panel: AIM Sports Conference - February 2020)
The big idea at the core of Baltimore United is bringing together sports franchises, nonprofits, businesses, government, and communities in true partnership. Much easier said than done, but the potential impact of a unified effort could be life changing for so many people.
Across Baltimore, there are already groups of people using the influence of sports on society to help push everyone in a positive direction.
There are a variety of individuals in Baltimore who drive positive change through sports. Individuals like Van Brooks, Torrey Smith, and 2019 NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year Calais Campbell are just a few names in the city ready to take action.
The influence of sports is evident when the city comes together and rallies around an inspiring figure like Mo Gaba. Every Ravens game, when I see MO in the Baltimore end zone, I remember how strong the bond between the city and its fans is.
(2020 Baltimore Ravens End Zone)
Baltimore is also home to a variety of impactful social movements. In 2015, the city had a negative spotlight on it for the riots which occurred in the aftermath of Freddie Gray’s death. However, there were many powerful collaborations and ideas that came out of 2015. As I marched in the streets of Baltimore in 2020, I spoke with people and heard conversations about how groups of young adults were able to organize this march to achieve the goal of speaking with Baltimore Police Commissioner, Michael Harrison.
There are so many willing and able drivers of positive change in and around Baltimore. The biggest issue they face is staying relevant in the news.
Our news feeds seem to only amplify negativity. So, to me, shedding a light on these positive opportunities coming out of the city is important for the growth and development of the next generation.
Creating a city-wide community of like-minded individuals and organizations takes time. It requires multiple outreach phases and will develop with the inclusion of new members.
As I begin to build Baltimore United, I am grateful for the support and guidance from professionals like John Balkam, author of 3-Win Sponsorship and founder of Third Win Group.
I read 3-Win during initial research for my project. For the year that we have known each other, John and I have constantly discussed the implementation of the 3-Win methodology in sports, business, and community impact. We recognized the potential of and the ideal timing for a group-effort initiative like Baltimore United to grow and drive real change.
So, after a COVID-19 related layoff from my previous employer, I started to re-evaluate what Baltimore United meant to me and how I could make it a reality.
Baltimore United will provide a platform for changemakers in Charm City to collaborate and act on strategies that expand the social impact of organizations and increase educational opportunities provided to communities throughout Baltimore.
Baltimore United will be a facilitator for a collaborative effort of leaders focused on embracing the influence of sports business on society and its ability to be a catalyst for change.
I plan to get this started by doing what I have done for my entire life. Talking, listening, and learning from people.
I have gathered a large group of nonprofits and targeted their operations in my research, and I am compiling people’s stories about their growth, failures, and achievements. I questioned what they do well, what they struggle with, and who they want to help.
I started to find a lot of similar answers:
No matter an organization's size or brand, resources are always scarce.
Leaders across industries are constantly unsure of what they can do to create a real impact.
Everyone wants to align with consumer goals and social justice issues, but at what cost and in what way?
As I listen to more and more people, I started creating a “map” of city support and connecting people’s stories.
Now, I want to tell these stories.
People from all over the city are making an impact, and deserve a place for their story to be told.
Baltimore United will be that place.
I have been developing my writing through this Win-Win-Win community and my weekly posts, Last Week’s Wins. Win-Win-Win focuses on providing purpose-driven and thoughtful business strategies for sports and entertainment professionals.
A United Journey will be published alongside Last Week’s Wins to share stories about organizations and individuals focused on driving change through sports business and collaboration. I want to spread the message and increase awareness of how people got to where they are and where they want to go in the future.
The series of published writings will go into detail about organizations focused on youth development, sustainability, and positive changes in the Baltimore community with an emphasis on using sports to achieve those goals.
(2019 MLB World Series WePlayLoud Initiative - October 2019)
In my mind, the biggest barrier to activism is awareness.
Awareness increases potential growth opportunities, and Baltimore United will facilitate the partnerships, relationships, and initiatives that occur as a result of this increased awareness.
Baltimore United will develop over time. Like most things in life right now, adaptability will be critical to success. However, I will stay firm in my goal of creating a place for people to work together in positive ways.
Thank you for reading and spreading the message of a movement in Baltimore. This will take time. But our first step is forward and it is now.
Please visit https://www.baltimoreunited.org/ and join the movement today!