Sports still inspire in times of need

With the long and exhausting drive that has been the NFL protests, many sports fans are left disgusted and annoyed that politics are taking a major plot point in these young seasons. However, people are not focusing on what they should be focusing on: the good stuff, the stuff Disney makes dramatic, heartwarming, blockbuster, Christmas day movies about. Sports for close knit markets are bringing people together with passion and love for their neighbors like it always has.

First, after Hurricane Harvey, the miraculous story of how JJ Watt helped bring his city from the brinks of becoming Atlantis with generous donations that far exceeded expectations.

It started as a $200,000 goal for his foundation, the JJ Watt Foundation. Soon, after publications about the star defensive lineman’s efforts on websites like ESPN, Bleacher Report and being plastered all over social media, profits went through the roof.

Sports fans alike all joined in financially to help prevent any more devastation caused by the behemoth hurricane. After a short stint, Watt eventually raised above $37 million.

Donations still kept coming in after the deadline, along with JJ stressing every minute on what to do to not completely waste the millions of dollars he was benefitted with. Watt’s social media soon blew up after he posted videos and pictures of the warehouse filled with supplies for the citizens who are still trapped and/or homeless after the devastation.

He has taken the emotion from the week of Hurricane Harvey and transferred it into his play. The Texans have been better than anyone thought possible this year, with the offensive play of Deshaun Watson and their defense.

Watt has been transformed from a leader of this team, to a leader of the city. His pre-game week one introduction was electrifying. The fans showered him with cheers like never seen before in modern sports. The electricity was only matched by sticking a fork into the power outlet.

Now the Texans are first in their division, but with Watt’s injury, who knows how long that will last. For the final part of the second half of the second quarter, all the Sunday Night football crew could focus on was Watt getting driven off to the hospital by the ambulance. So much so that their was more aerial footage of the ambulance’s path to the ER than there was aerial footage of the actual game.

On the other side of the sports world, the newest sports franchise is the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights, a city that also suffered an atrocious attack. The largest mass shooting in modern American history has left a giant crater in the city.

With many citizens of the city losing friends and family to the attack, the Golden Knights took their great advantage of being the only major sports team in the city by using their influence to affect patrons for the greater good.

On ESPN Sportscenter’s coverage of their opening night, Vegas’s general manager said, “This will be tough for all of us. We will have to postpone the celebration to game two or three.”

Vegas did the right thing, by covering the entire arena with “#vegasstrong.” Not only that, but the players skated out with first responders from the disaster, one of the classiest moves from sports since the 9/11 attacks.

The Golden Knights attacked this problem head on. They not only embraced the fallen victims and their families, but offered tremendous support to all those worried by the past events. What I’m trying to get at is that sports have the great ability to join humanity in increasingly incredible ways. They join people like no other.

In a country where anything from kneeling to healthcare can spark an angry debate that can turn extremely ugly, sports are the only thing of its sort that can join people in a athletically officiated matrimony. A matrimony that joins humans in the worst of times, when we need it most.

People often say something along the lines of “losing faith in humanity,” which is sometimes true. But in the end, humanity will make up for itself; sports are often the vehicle for that change. From the natural disasters, to terrorist attacks, sports have the strange ability to join people when it seems like people are unjoinable.

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