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Why I Play

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It was an honor to be interviewed by CNN about fighting human trafficking through Free2Play. It went on CNN International. It went global. Now people in other countries can see that ball players are involved in fighting human trafficking. When you’re able to reach millions of people with one interview, then you’re making a big dent. It’s not the local news!

It all started when CNN contacted Dave Batstone at Not For Sale to discuss human trafficking. He told them about Free2Play, and how we’re trying to get more athletes involved in enlisting people in the fight against human trafficking.

Athletes are great mentors for this issue. We’ve been able to accomplish our dreams, but that started with being allowed to dream in the first place. Slavery kills the ability to dream.

Kids are being sold into situations where they have no dreams. Someone’s telling them, “Don’t bother to dream, because you’re going to do what I tell you to do. It’s going to wreck your life. But you are not a human being to me. You are basically a business to me. You’re a toy to me. You’re an object to my desire. You’re an object to my greed.”

CNN asked Dave, “Who is involved in Free2Play?” He said, “We have Jeremy from the Giants.” And they said, “Oh, a World Series champion is helping with the fight of human trafficking!” And he said, “Yes, and we have Matt Holliday, and Jeremy’s trying to get some other guys.” And so CNN came to spring training and talked to me about why I’m a Free2Play athlete.

We also discussed the groundwork for a Free2Play team. The idea is to create a kind of fantasy team. We’ll get nine players from nine positions, or close to it, to join Free2Play. Each player makes his pledge. (For example, this season I’ve pledged $250.00 a strikeout and $250.00 a hold, and Matt Holliday has pledged $500.00 a homer.) At the end of every day, CNN will publish the team’s total pledges based on what they did on the field.

And then the fans can join us. They can pick the players they like and make matching pledges. For example, fans can pick me and Matt, and pledge 50 cents for a strikeout and a dollar for a homer. CNN will track the Not For Sale team: what the team did, how much the players donated, how much the fans matched. It’s a fun way to raise funds to help with the fight against human trafficking.

Sometimes the mentality is, “Well you’re a baseball player. You’ve got the money. You’re on TV. You’re doing things most people can’t do. I know there’s a problem, but I’ll let you take care of it.” We don’t want people to think that way, because nothing can ever get done that way. One man can’t do anything. Now we can say, “No, why don’t you help us.” Now we can say, “No, we need your help. We can’t do this without you. Please help us in this fight.” And then, when fans check the stats and say, “Jeremy just struck out a guy,” they’ll know that it means that together we gave $250.00 plus all our other pledges to a campaign that’s going to help free children from slavery. Fans can connect and help fight with us.

When fans, and especially kids, see that there are ball players out there fighting for other people’s freedom, they’ll realize that we don’t play baseball just to make all this money and take care of our families. Obviously that is part of why we play, but they’ll see we have another reason too. We have a purpose behind every goal that we set for ourselves. Why do I play? I play so that others can be free to play.

You don’t have to wait for the fantasy team. You can match my pledge with any amount you want right now! Sign up at Free2Play. See you Friday, when I start a new series on my REACH campaign.

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