Sports Provides Hope for Houston and Other Disaster Relief Efforts
Following the devastation in Houston from Hurricane Harvey, many athletes, organizations and league’s have pledged help.
Updated: Sept. 8, 2017 • 4:59 PM ET
J.J. Watt has raised a substantial amount of money for Houston relief efforts.
Often times, one of the biggest criticisms of professional sports is that the athletes are paid way too much. Many critics of professional sports cite that players are often far too valued and paid far too excessively to play a game. And to be fair, they may have a point.
Perhaps the skills of professional athletes aren’t important enough to warrant such prodigious salaries. But what many of these critics fail to realize is just how vital these players are to their communities and the important role they play.
In light of Hurricane Harvey, we’ve been shown just how impactful the influence players can have. J.J. Watt of the Houston Texans started a fundraiser for the relief effort in Houston that has since raised nearly $30 million, including a $1 million donation from Tennessee Titans owner Amy Adams Strunk.
Strunk isn’t the only NFL owner that has contributed to the relief effort. The Texans, Dallas Cowboys, Detroit Lions, New York Jets, Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Detroit Lions, Atlanta Falcons, New England Patriots and New York Giants have all pledged $1 million to the relief effort, according to NFL.com.
Houston Rockets owner Leslie Alexander, who is waiting for approval for the recent sale of the team, has given back to the people of Houston in the sum of $10 million for the relief effort, according to the Houston Chronicle.
Aside Watt’s efforts, a $1 million donation from Houston Rockets superstar James Harden and other contributions from Houston related sports figures, professional athletes, organizations and owners outside of the NFL and Houston are making remarkable contributions. Stars like Mike Trout, Dikembe Mutombo, Alex Rodriguez, John Wall, Bradley Beal, Steph Curry and other players, owners, teams and leagues have made significant donations, according to Sports Illustrated. The contributions that these players and organizations have made have gone a long way to helping people in need.
Money for relief efforts is important, but there’s something else that sports provides people that they need in times of turmoil: something to rally behind. In the wake of Katrina’s devastation of the Gulf Coast back in 2005, the people of New Orleans turned to the Superdome for solace, literally.
While the stadium provided shelter to those who had nowhere else to go, it was under the banner of the Saints that the people of New Orleans rallied behind. Five years later, those people continued to rally behind their Saints and were rewarded with an astounding victory in Super Bowl 44, giving the city their first-ever Super Bowl win and hope during the process of rebuilding their city.
Players have always given back to their communities. Former Houston Texans wideout Andre Johnson has held an annual toy drive for the children of Houston for roughly a decade. Last year, Johnson spent $20,000 on toys for children in need during Christmas.
Larry Fitzgerald of the Arizona Cardinals is one of the most charitable athletes in professional sports. His First Down Fund gives “significant gifts — in time, money and resources - to numerous organizations across the country.” Fitzgerald has also spent time in Africa to raise awareness of drought and famine, going as far as helping dig irrigation projects.
Many players have founded charities and organized events, the impact of which have been invaluable, not to mention offering significant contributions and personal expenses to foundations and causes. So it’s true that they might be paid too much for the job they do. But athletes also give back to their communities in ways that many of us can’t; not just in monetary terms, but in the form of hope and an escape.
Sports have always played a pivotal role in their communities and will continue to do so.