The evening of October 28, 2012 will forever be remembered for two distinct memories that many will never forget. As the San Francisco Giants were celebrating their four game World Series sweep of the Detroit Tigers in Comerica Park, the Northeast was frightfully preparing for the onslaught and carnage of an epic storm that would devastate neighborhoods and towns across three states. At the same moment that Sergio Romo had struck out Miguel Cabrera to end this year’s Fall Classic, howling winds began to whip through the region as the genesis of Hurricane Sandy began to destroy homes and claim innocent casualties on its path towards utter destruction.
In the midst of the recent unimaginable adversities due to Hurricane Sandy, sports weren’t even an afterthought to the thousands of families without homes, electricity or heat. However, in times of horrific tragedy, sports have a way of instantaneously stepping to the forefront and making a concerted effort to provide support and comfort. Without hesitation, several sports leagues, franchises, players associations, executives and athletes have demonstrated extraordinary leadership and social responsibility. The acts of profound kindness by the sports industry serve as an impetus for others to get involved and to help people who are in dire need of love and support.
For instance, we have seen Major League Baseball deliver warm weather clothing, non-perishable food and supplies to Far Rockaway, one of the communities ravaged by Hurricane Sandy. The New York Yankees have made a $500,000 donation to the American Red Cross to compliment their collection of food, jackets, diapers and blankets last week and then shuttling the supplies to the devastated areas. The New York Mets made a $100,000 donation to the New York Daily News’ disaster relief fund as well as team Chief Operating Officer Jeff Wilpon personally donating $25,000 to the fund. The New York Knicks have been actively volunteering in Staten Island and delivering boxes of food and supplies to people in Brooklyn on top of donations to the Mayor’s Fund and American Red Cross. Even the Oakland Athletics have started a Hurricane Sandy relief fund that will go to theSalvation Army and the Humane Society of the United States. The aforementioned examples are just a small sample of the sports industry’s proactive approach to aiding in the recovery from Hurricane Sandy.
Leadership in crisis situations doesn’t always have to come in the form of a president, governor, mayor or other elected official. It comes from the thousands of volunteers who give of themselves for the benefit of others. These remarkable individuals have served as an inspiration to many in the sports industry and the positive response has been overwhelming. Besides repainting a Boys and Girls Club in Hoboken, CC Sabathia was also on hand last week helping Joe Girardi and Joba Chamberlain supporting the Yankees’ efforts in addressing the needs of the community. Robinson Cano, John Franco and Carl Banks were spreading the message of raising money for theStephen Stiller Tunnel to Towers Foundation and its Hurricane Sandy donations. Carmelo Anthony was delivering food and supplies to families in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn. Even the Yankees’ clubhouse manager Lou Cucuzza, Jr. was putting packages together filled with Gatorade and toiletries.
It is a common occurrence that during a catastrophe or natural disaster, we see both the best and worst in human beings. Demonstrations of selflessness, compassion and love are exhibited through works of charity and volunteerism. However, we also see morally bankrupt people prey on the vulnerable, desperate and those who just want to lend a helping hand. Looting, misappropriating donations or the establishment of fictitious charities are the deviant behaviors of a few that normally cast a shadow over numerous extraordinary acts of kindness.
Thankfully, the National Football League, Major League Baseball, National Basketball Association and the three corresponding players associations strategically contributed a combined $3 million to relief efforts. Instead of establishing a charity from scratch and dealing with bureaucracy and potential controversies regarding distribution, funds were directed towards theAmerican Red Cross, The Salvation Army, Feeding America, New York Caresand Jersey Cares. Besides the overtly generous donations, the three sports leagues and players associations are educating sports fans on how they can effectively donate and who they can trust. By partnering with universally respected and trusted organizations that specialize in crisis management, people can donate with assurance and confidence.
As families utilize the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (F.E.M.A.)recovery centers and have the Army National Guard patrolling the neighborhoods, we cannot become complacent and assume that all is well. The recovery from Hurricane Sandy will be long, expensive and emotional. While certain neighborhoods have received extensive coverage in the media chronicling the unimaginable devastation, we cannot forget the hundreds of neighborhoods from the Jersey Shore through Connecticut that still lack electricity, warm water, gasoline and other necessities of life. With the holiday season upon us, it is imperative that we focus on rebuilding, restoring community pride and getting necessities into the hands of the people who need them. The sports industry has enthusiastically supported all of the efforts to date and you hope that zeal doesn’t wane anytime soon. In times of crisis, sports can act as the glue for society that brings us all together. On this occasion, the sports industry is educating people on the importance of donating to trustworthy organizations and how to truly help those who are in great need.