The money flowing into professional sports these days can only be described as astronomical.
While the highest paid player in the National Football League made $51-million (U.S.) this year, average salaries are still hefty at $2.7-million.
Salaries are higher in other sports leagues, with the National Basketball Association leading the way with more than $6.5-million in the 2017-18 season, and Major League Baseball not far behind at $4.47-million. Though the National Hockey League lags the others, its athletes aren't exactly paupers either, pulling in an average of $4-million.
With sporting incomes at historic highs, players are left to ponder what to do with their disposable income. One way to build their brands and do some good at the same time is through philanthropy.
Former Montreal Canadiens star P.K. Subban, for instance, captured headlines – and plaudits – for his $10-million donation to the Montreal Children's Hospital two years ago, an amount that the hospital called "the biggest philanthropic commitment by a sports figure in Canadian history."
The all-star defenceman, now with the Nashville Predators, is far from the only Canadian sports figure making waves in the philanthropic arena. Here are five other individuals who have been happy to help out.
Daniel and Henrik Sedin
The heart and soul of the Vancouver Canucks since they were drafted second and third overall, respectively, in 1999, the all-star forwards have immersed themselves in the community.
In their 18 years in British Columbia, the Swedish twins have supported more than 50 charities, including the Canucks for Kids Fund, the Canuck Place Children's Hospice and the B.C. Children's Hospital, to which they made a $1.5-million donation in 2010.
The pair followed that up by establishing the Sedin Family Foundation in 2014 to address the needs of families and children. The foundation has worked with social service agencies, community groups and schools to make a difference, including giving out yearly gifts to programs that revolve around children's education and health.
A PGA Tour regular since 2011, the Brantford, Ont., golfer has earned more than $9-million in his career, but he has been more than happy to dip into his own pocket to help a cause that's close to his heart.
Both his grandmother and great-grandmother passed away from Alzheimer's disease, and other family members have been affected by dementia and related diseases, so he established the David Hearn Foundation in 2015.
"When I got in the position to start giving back and I was on the PGA Tour, I decided that was the most natural fit for me. And because I had seen how it had impacted our family and other families around us, I felt like that was something that I could really do, something small," Mr. Hearn says.
The 38-year-old estimates the foundation has raised between $400,000 and $500,000 so far, and he has made personal contributions as well. The foundation's marquee event is a charity golf tournament held every summer after the RBC Canadian Open. The foundation also rewards young golfers who are giving back to their communities with bursaries.
Unlike other professional sports leagues, the PGA Tour is a non-profit organization. Each week that he and fellow golfers play on tour, Mr. Hearn says, local charities benefit from those events. The tour as a whole donated $166-million to charity in 2016, and since 1938 it has given more than $2.4-billion to charitable causes.
"It's one of the things the PGA Tour is very proud of – that we donate more money through the PGA Tour to charity than every other professional sport combined," Mr. Hearn says.
The former Toronto Raptors point guard was traded to the Indiana Pacers over the summer, but the Pickering, Ont., native is still involved with philanthropic causes in this country.
Mr. Joseph recently teamed up with Isthmus, a Canadian charity that is trying to end childhood hunger with a weekend program that sends children home on Friday evenings with a backpack of food. He has also previously been involved with the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto; he brought the NBA championship trophy there after he won it with the San Antonio Spurs in 2014.
Mr. Joseph, who is making $7.6-million with Indiana this year, says that giving back and donating money to causes is the least he can do. "With the platform that we're given as basketball players and a very fortunate place that we're put in, we definitely should feel a responsibility to give back," he says.
He donates to Isthmus – where $120 can fund the program for a child for a year – and other causes. "You've got to put your money where your mouth is, right?"
A lot of players take their philanthropic work seriously, says Randy Osei, the chief executive officer for Rozaay Management, which has worked with NBA stars such as Aaron Gordon, George Hill and Giannis Antetokounmpo on a book and sneaker drive to fund a humanitarian trip to Ghana next year.
"Philanthropic work is very important as it helps to build your brand while you're making money and showing that your care about your community, or community back home, whatever it is," he says.
As a Canadian Football League player coming off his rookie season, the Edmonton Eskimos receiver might not command as large a salary as other pro athletes, but the 23-year-old does his part for others, both in Alberta and in his native London, Ont.
After becoming involved in football as a child through the youth sports charity KidSport, he has continued working with the organization, playing sports with some of the children there.
He also helps out with Edmonton's Boys and Girls Clubs Big Brothers Big Sisters. As part of that work, he was involved with Santa Clothes, an initiative with the Rotary Club of Edmonton West that involved taking 100 kids from five inner-city schools on a $400-per-person shopping spree at Old Navy.
"If you have any sort of influence on anybody, if you're not going to do it yourself, how can you expect somebody else to take a step toward making [the world] a better place?" he says. "It seems like a no-brainer."