Josh Gondelman lives in New York City and writes for HBO’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. But Gondelman still identifies with his Boston-area roots and proudly roots for Boston sports teams, including the New England Patriots. Well, perhaps not as proudly in the two weeks leading up to Super Bowl LI.
Because the Patriots owner, coach and star quarterback all have been touted by President Trump as his good friends, and none of them have gone out of their way to dismiss that.
So Gondelman felt conflicted. “Because of Tom Brady’s garbage politics,” Gondelman decided to divert his energies into more worthy efforts; namely, donating money to the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund. One hundred dollars for every Pats touchdown; $50 for every Pats field goal. He posted his intentions on Twitter on Feb. 2, three days before Super Bowl Sunday. He encouraged others to join him, writing on Twitter: “If you have political Patriots fan ambivalence, maybe pledge a little money to a good cause when they score using the hashtag:
A civic-minded friend of his, Emma Sandoe, helped organize the hashtag effort.
Gondelman told me today: “I didn’t even know if other people felt the same way I did, so I was trying to both see if there was anyone who related to my personal dilemma and help figure out how that group of people (no matter how small) could work together to turn that frustration or ambivalence into something positive.”
Donations big and small from Patriots fans and even Falcons fans joined the cause.
They’ve so far tallied more than $70,000 from self-reported contributions, spread out among organizations including (in bold should you feel emboldened to donate now):
- American Civil Liberties Union
- Planned Parenthood
- NAACP Legal Defense Fund
- National Immigration Law Center
- Southern Poverty Law Center
- International Rescue Committee
- Anti-Defamation League
- Innocence Project
- National Parks Service
- Sierra Club
- Council on American-Islamic Relations
- Save the Children
- The Humane Society
- Trevor Project
— Legal Defense Fund (@NAACP_LDF) February 6, 2017
— ACLU National (@ACLU) February 6, 2017
As well as a number of local non-profit organizations, such as Rosie’s Place, a Boston organization that supports homeless women.
— Rosie's Place (@RosiesPlace) February 6, 2017
Full disclosure: I’m a Patriots fan myself (who watched on a different TV when the Falcons took a 28-3 lead, so suffice it to say superstitions still work), and I made contributions to the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, Southern Poverty Law Center, National Civil Rights Museum, and Mother Jones magazine.
Writer/director Joss Whedon put his money where his activism is, assembling his Avengers appropriately to slay political vampires:
@joshgondelman I think I'm at $2700 (ACLU bound) but I missed bits and I suck at math
— Joss Whedon (@joss) February 6, 2017
— elan gale (@theyearofelan) February 6, 2017
Elan Gale, producer on The Bachelor, was one of many who followed suit.
#AGoodGame fundraising made the cover of the Boston Metro paper, and into Boston Mayor Marty Walsh’s interview with Trevor Noah on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show.
I’d be surprised if Gondelman’s boss doesn’t also mention it in some form or fashion when Last Week Tonight with John Oliver returns from HBO hiatus on Sunday.
Seeing how successful #AGoodGame went in such a short period of time, though, what’s next for Gondelman?
He told me: “I’m mostly inspired and heartened by how many people want to make a difference and feel like a part of something. So I don’t have any specific direction, but this week has given me a little sliver of hope to hang onto and an inspiration to keep trying to be a better citizen and learn from the people who are working really hard to help and make change.”
Me, too, Josh. Me, too.