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Should Chance the Rapper become a White Sox team ambassador?

by Mark Fordon

Last year in the NBA Finals, the Toronto Raptors made history. They defeated the dynasty that was the Golden State Warriors in six games for the franchise’s first ever NBA championship. Now, you may be asking yourself, what on earth does this have to do with the Chicago White Sox? Let me explain that to you.

Way back in 2013, the Raptors made a deal with Drake for him to become the team’s official brand ambassador. Since then, the franchise has not only seen its popularity rise thanks to fans of the rapper, but also due to fans around the entire music community. This has benefitted the Raptors greatly in terms of putting the team and the city of Toronto on the map off the court.

Looking ahead a few years later, Chance the Rapper and the White Sox seemed to be an unstoppable duo in 2016. The rapper, who was born on the South Side, threw out the first pitch on Opening Day and then proceeded to collaborate with the organization and New Era to design three limited edition White Sox hats. The only piece missing between the two parties that year? A deal to make Chance an official ambassador.

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Chance The Rapper posing in a commercial for the White Sox, showing off one of three hats he designed in part of a collaboration with the team and New Era. (Photo: Chicago White Sox)

As you may recall, Chance also released his album “Coloring Book” that same year. It has been rumored that he was planning on wearing a White Sox hat on the cover of that album but reconsidered when he was never offered his deal as the team ambassador. Thus, he created his famous “3” hat and wore that on the cover instead. Chance wearing a Sox hat would have created major publicity for the organization that they certainly missed out on. The album turned out to be a huge success and was ranked third by Rolling Stones, second by Complex and Esquire, and first by Variance on their respective album of the year rankings. Oh yeah, and it won the 2017 Grammy for “Best Rap Album.”

But that was 2016. The White Sox were entering a rebuild and were focused on creating depth within their minor league system for a future period of sustained success.

Now, we are in 2020. The White Sox are clearly an organization on the rise, and this prior free agency only proved that players want to come to the South Side. With the signings of Yasmani Grandal, Dallas Keuchel, Edwin Encarnacion, and Steve Cishek, the Sox have proven they are ready to trade in their “rebuilding” status for “contending.”

The players look to have a great bond between one another, free agents are buying into what Rick Hahn is building, and White Sox baseball is undoubtedly trending upwards. What better way to add on to that fun than adding a world renowned celebrity as the official brand ambassador?

Adding someone like Chance The Rapper to the White Sox family would be a huge get for the organization. It would bring in more fans and help the team in taking that next step to becoming a worldwide brand, similar to their neighbors on the North Side. Baseball has been trying to gauge a younger audience with the “Let The Kids Play” movement. Specifically, the White Sox have adopted a “Change The Game” slogan, even better. We all know that the NBA is the most popular sports league in the world, so if an NBA franchise like the Raptors aren’t afraid to sign Drake as their ambassador, why should the White Sox hesitate to bring aboard Chance the Rapper? The White Sox learned from previous methods from organizations around baseball such as the Astros and the Cubs when it came to their rebuilding efforts. Why not take a page out of Raptors General Manager, Masai Ujiri’s book? After all, Toronto won a trophy in the end, and it would be foolish to question the methods of an organization with such success.

Rapper, Drake, court-side hugging Raptors mascot after a Game 3 Eastern Conference Finals Raptors victory. (Photo: Shutterstock)

You may be thinking, “who cares about a brand ambassador?” Well, here’s why that matters more than you think. First off, if the White Sox were ever going to pull off a move like this, now is the perfect time. As the South Siders shift into contention mode, a figure such as Chance will bring eyes from outside of the baseball world, onto the club. This means more media coverage, more fans to fill up the stadium, and most importantly, more money in Jerry Reinsdorf’s pocket. To put it in perspective, the Toronto Raptors have 3.0 million Instagram followers, while the White Sox have a mere 382,000. This isn’t even half of the Cubs 1.5 million. Good news for the Sox, there’s somebody out there with 11.1 million, and he’s right down the street. Yup, it’s Chance. He would bring a multitude of followers to the White Sox social media pages, which to you, might not sound like much, but social media is where the White Sox do an awful lot of promoting content as well as selling tickets, and trying to build their fanbase overall.

Back in 2016, when Chance was originally spending time around the organization, an article was written by Phil Mushnick of the New York Post. I believe that this article very well could’ve prompted the White Sox to end their negotiations in the original brand ambassador deal. Mushnick not only heavily criticized Chance and the White Sox, but also the city of Chicago in its entirety. In his article he states, “Chance, who often wears a White Sox cap, was selected to throw out the first pitch in this year’s White Sox home opener. Beyond that — and far below — Chance records and sells pro forma, no-upside, can’t-expect-better-from-us, women-denigrating, blood-on-the-breeze rap.” While Phil does make a valid argument that some of Chance’s lyrics may not always be kid friendly, I find that many of his statements from the article are completely inaccurate and frankly, flat out disrespectful. It is truly disappointing that this article may have had something to do with Chance not receiving the brand ambassador position, as clearly Phil has not kept up to date with Chance The Rapper’s charity, Social Works. Or maybe the $1 million he donated out of his pocket to the Chicago Public School System, getting the Chicago Bulls to match his donation, thus prompting another personal donation of $100,000.

Chance The Rapper at Wescott Elementary School in Chicago, presenting his donation of $1 million to the Chicago Public School system. (Photo: Chicago Tribune)

The bottom line is, Chancelor Bennett is a great person, and he would make for a fantastic face of the brand for the Chicago White Sox organization. Whether it be helping out his community, or making outstanding content via singing, rapping, or acting, Chance is an outstanding influence on our city and has a strong love for Chicago. He grew up just blocks away from 35th and Shields, and has an undeniably strong bond with the South Side of Chicago. He would be a perfect fit for a brand ambassador role to help establish a turning point for White Sox baseball, as we transition into the new decade. There’s no question that Chance The Rapper will be cheering on the White Sox in October these next few years. The question is will he be an active part of it?

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Featured Photo: Chicago White Sox/Twitter

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Sam Rosem
Sam Rosem

I like the idea it’d be a real smart move for the White Sox to make Chance a team ambassador and grow the fanbase especially among younger fans. As a loyal long-tenured Raptors fan myself I’ve seen a ton of growth in the Raptors branding of the franchise since 2013 that has coincide with winning and an NBA Championship last year. Some people are just into the sports side of things but we gotta remember sports is a business as well and making Drake a team ambassador is one of the smartest business moves in all of sports in the… Read more »

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