Do Sports Matter During Natural Disasters?

In the midst of the continued aftermath of Hurricane Harvey in Texas, I saw this on ESPN yesterday:

I’ve written about sports and related media sometimes forgetting that they’re just a form of entertainment. They bring a lot of people joy and meaning, but in the end, sports are no different than movies, TV shows, music, and board games. They serve to entertain.

Do the people of Houston care at all right now about whether or not their baseball team wins or loses? I highly doubt it.

I wondered the same thing after Hurricane Katrina. There were so many times when I heard announcers say that the city of New Orleans really needed the team to win for them in those tough times. While I certainly don’t think it hurts to have something to cheer for in the midst of an intense hardship, in a way it seems insensitive to correlate the two.

The people in Houston don’t need their baseball team to win. They need food. They need shelter. They need the waters to recede.

That said, I’ve been fortunate to not have my life upended by a natural disaster, so maybe a win by my local team really would make a huge difference. If you’ve been through something like that, what do you think? Did you mind sports media talking about the impact of your local team in this way?


2 Responses to “Do Sports Matter During Natural Disasters?”

  1. Maybe to some. But I agree with you. Taking care of my family is number 1. I’d care less if my team won. Sports is a time of leisure. I’d feel better knowing there is help for my family. I’d feel better knowing the community is there to help in time of need.

  2. Nik Stein says:

    A win by their team doesn’t actually do any good for anyone other than the players and owners. Taking a couple of hours along with your fellow victims, volunteers, citizens, etc. to watch a game is a small taste of normal and perhaps the only normal you’ll experience in a number of months to years.

    They have food in route, they have supplies in route, they have volunteers in route, all of these are also there already. They’re going to be mucking out their houses/buildings for a few weeks. They’re going to be rebuilding homes and businesses for years. A little enjoyment of something normal goes a very long way to recharge the soul.

    Baton Rouge and the surrounding area flooded really bad almost exactly a year ago (8/12/16). Everyone had plenty of help from the community starting from the rescuers coined The Cajun Navy (who went to Houston to perform rescues) to strangers helping strangers demo their houses, to strangers dropping off supplies to neighborhoods, to strangers driving up and down streets giving out hot plate lunches at meal times (not red cross, individuals). Everyone had at least 1 extra family staying at their house if not more, some complete strangers. We had people from all over the country sending in supplies or bringing in grill rigs and trucks to cook food for everyone. I literally mean everyone. A lot of that help came from Houston and Texas in general. It was a natural disaster that wiped out 1/2 to 3/4 of the houses in the city and surrounding areas.

    About a month later the LSU Football season started. That was really the 1st time the city felt normal. As messed up as it was, as bad as it smelled, as depressed as everyone was, the city went back to normal for game day. Everyone wore whatever LSU clothes they had salvaged. Everyone tailgated at the stadium. Those who didn’t tailgate had normal game days with food, friends and drinks at their houses or friends houses (most of which were missing at least the bottom 4 feet of sheetrock). People that hadn’t had a reason to smile in the past month stood up and cheered for their team. Unfortunately, we lost that game but it gave people something different to be pissed off about and a topic of conversation other than “Did you flood?”

    They’re going to be OK and they’re going to have lots of help from their neighbors, the people of Louisiana, and the rest of the country. The one thing nobody can help or do for them is make them feel normal. Watching a silly game and cheering for your team can do that.

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