As a former Houstonian, I can attest to the unique personality and spirit the people of Houston, and for that matter most Texans, share. They believe they are special and unique, and indeed they are, and despite what Politico may want you to believe they are special and unique in a good way.
Soon the flood waters, cameras, reporters, and politicians brought on by Hurricane Harvey will recede. This is when they will need that character of theirs the most. Having had the opportunity to tour New Orleans several months after Katrina, I was astonished to see acres of neighborhoods and business complexes shuttered for good, as the rising water table made repairs unfeasible and they became total tear downs. Many parts of the Texas Gulf Coast will face this same problem, and they are in for a long haul.
From Colin Kaepernick taking a knee, to the NCAA using its muscle to attack traditional values, to political correctness demanding name changes to sports teams and venues, as a sports executive I have used this space to lament the sad and fast-growing trend of the politicization of sports.
With this is mind, I thought it only fair to point out some of the good things the sports world has done in light of Hurricane Harvey and give credit where it is due. The world of professional sports has risen to the occasion admirably, and has done so rather quickly. The Houston Astros have pledged $4 million to help, which doesn’t include that the Astros and Major League Baseball donated all parking, concessions and ticket revenue from the Astros home games that were displaced and had to be played in Tampa Bay. Up the road a bit the Texas Rangers have pledged $1 million to the cause.
Several Major Leagues players have stepped up to the plate as well. A growing list, including players Jay Bruce, Mike Trout, Scott Kazmir, Matt Carpenter and others, have made generous donations out of their own pockets.
In football, the Houston Texans have pledged $1 million with the NFL announcing it would match this contribution. NFL owners Robert Kraft of the New England Patriots and Amy Adams of the Tennessee Titans (formerly the Houston Oilers) have each pledged $1 million as well.
Like their Major League Baseball counterparts NFL players are out front trying to help also. Most people are aware of J.J. Watt’s fundraising efforts where his current goal is to raise $4 million, while other players such as Leonard Fournette and Ezekiel Elliott are also making sizable contributions.
In the NBA, Houston Rockets owner Les Alexander, who announced prior to the hurricane that he was selling the team, has pledged $10 million, and in hockey the NHL is donating $200,000.
Now some cynics reading this are at this point grumbling about how this is just a drop in the bucket to billionaire owners and millionaire players, to whom this is nothing more than a tax write off. Even if you believe that to be true, at least take a moment to be grateful for our freedoms and free markets that can produce such wealth to afford us the resources to recover, reinvest and move forward unlike so many parts of the world. And while we’re giving thanks for freedoms, let us not forget our freedom of religion. When all the reporters left Mississippi and Louisiana after Katrina, how many countless faith-based groups and people of faith uprooted their lives to do God’s work building houses and serving meals for years after the storm? No doubt these same groups and people now have Houston in their sights and hearts.
With the NFL and college football kicking off and Major League pennant races heating up, this is an exciting time of year for sports. And yes, for sure, this week there will be some ignorant football players taking a knee during the national anthem, and a multimillionaire ballplayer who won’t run out a routine ground ball. Despite this, take time to remember that most of the players and people associated with big time sports are decent people and not that different from people like you and me who are just looking for a way to help.
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