It’s no secret that we like to win at C Spire. Our team members suit up every day to help our customers do the same. Whether that means expanding our 5G network, laying Gigabit fiber or working behind the scenes to make the customer experience first rate, striving to be the best is what we do. We have a long history of supporting students in the classroom by providing academic scholarships to Mississippi’s public universities and financing the groundbreaking Tech Movement technology educational initiative.
Over the years, we have also sought to align the passions we share with other Mississippians and Southerners. Athletics has proven an ideal common ground—if there’s one thing we can agree on, it’s that we all like to cheer on our sports teams. That’s part of why, over the past 30 years, we have invested $50 million in athletics at the high school, college, and professional levels. Let’s admit sports rivalries and the surrounding pageantries are simply fun. So, early in the 2010s before high school football was broadcast in any meaningful way, we partnered with FOX Sports South to bring some of our biggest high school football rivalries to a primetime audience with an NFL-worthy broadcast. Under the names “Bright Lights” and “Y’all vs. Us,” we aired rivalry games to 12.9 million households across the Southeast and produced a docuseries following two high school teams throughout a season.
Working with high school athletes has been rewarding in other ways, as well. At a time when it was not unusual for many top high school athletes to be ineligible to advance to play college sports, we created the Game Plan program to help prepare our top high school athletes to qualify. Our dedicated team members worked with athletes, families, and school guidance counselors to help enable student athletes to continue both their education and on-the-field excellence at the next level. If you’ve been watching college football this season, you’ll notice our visibility at the college level has never been greater. We’re proud to see the C Spire logo on the headsets of legendary coaches competing on a national stage every Saturday. It’s a nice bonus to support college programs across conferences and divisions, from the SEC to HBCUs, including Alabama, Alcorn State, Auburn, Delta State, Jackson State, Memphis, Mississippi State, Mississippi Valley State, Ole Miss, Southern Miss and UAB. We have also enjoyed our relationships with schools like South Alabama, Tennessee, and Vanderbilt, and hosting personalities like Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit, and the late Mike Leach at business events.
We’ve also been honored to see this support through by partnering with the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum on awards given to the top-performing college athletes in the state. For 25 years we have presented the C Spire Conerly Trophy to the best college football player, an esteemed group that counts star quarterbacks Eli Manning and Dak Prescott among its members. We have also lent our backing to the Ferriss Trophy, honoring the collegiate baseball player of the year; the Gillom Trophy, for the best women's college basketball player; and the Howell Trophy, for the best men's college basketball player. During this time, we have supported the Fellowship of Christian Athletes at the high school and collegiate level. The ministry work of FCA is making a difference in the lives of athletes on and off the field.
Sponsoring professional sports comes with some of the altruistic benefits of working with high school and college players. For example, our campaign against texting and driving in the 2010s starred all-SEC player Dexter McCluster, who by then was enjoying his seven-season NFL career. Golf and tennis tournaments benefiting children’s hospitals in Tennessee and Mississippi have also been part of the mix. The Cellular South Cup (pre-C Spire) hosted tennis stars in Memphis for world-class competition from athletes like Venus Williams, who won in 2007, and Maria Sharapova, who won in 2010. Since then, we’ve worked with professional clubs like the New Orleans Saints and Tennessee Titans football teams; the Memphis Grizzlies and New Orleans Pelicans basketball teams; the Nashville Predators ice hockey team; and the Nashville Soccer Club.
At C Spire, our push for daily wins for our customers and team members is a core tenet of everything we do. And we not only celebrate the wins, but also give back to our athletic programs so everyone has the opportunity to compete for the win.
By the way: we are sharing some of the greatest sports moments in our history at cspire.com/sports. Click through and relive all the joy sports have brought us over the years.
Hu Meena is CEO of C Spire in Ridgeland, Miss.