Ten Million Watt

by Rich on September 4, 2017

Fredric. Opal. Andrew. Ivan. Hugo. Erin. Katrina. Harvey. Such normal sounding names. So nonthreatening. And yet each represents hundreds of lives lost and millions of people affected. Untold billions of dollars and decades to recover. That’s what those names represent.

The world of sports was not immune from the battering the gulf region of Texas has been enduring for the last week. NFL, MLB and NCAA games have all been affected. Some have been moved, some canceled. Who knows how many high school games have been touched. But that’s not what I want to focus on today.

For the last year or more, we have been inundated with images and messages that reflect only a small portion of who we are as a people. Fringe elements from disparate groups have monopolized what we see and hear virtually every day. Practically every hour. If you watch the news, read a paper (hopefully!), or engage in social media, you would be forgiven for believing that this country is hopelessly mad and that everyone has lost their minds and that we might as well just give up on this whole experiment that is America.

I have watched, as we all have, the truly unfathomable images coming out of Texas. My head cannot get around visions of interstates that have turned into rivers. My brain cannot grasp the sheer scale of the destruction. And my mind cannot comprehend the magnitude of the loss.

But here’s the thing… when push comes to shove in this land of the free and home of the brave, something amazing happens. The free and the brave hold hands, pull together, and take care of what matters. And thankfully, sports has been a big part of that. And that is something that my heart can fathom.

He’s certainly not alone, but JJ Watt and his relief fund efforts are a prime example. Watt started with what seemed to me to be a fairly high yet obtainable goal of half a million dollars to go towards relief efforts. As of this writing he is well over ten million dollars. That’s nothing short of miraculous. Others in the sports and entertainment industries have led similar efforts, but JJ (who plays for the Texans in Houston) has been one of the most passionate. And he’s done it with a webcam and a website. That money represents real, tangible help for those who have lost everything.

Guess what else is real and tangible… not drowning. And the hundreds of fishermen and women from all over the southeast have descended on Harvey with everything from flat bottomed john boats to $200,000 competition bass boats. Many of these people had no plan other than to help save total strangers from that very fate.

And what warms my heart, amidst all the tragedy, is that right now, nobody cares who is helping who. There is no name calling. There is no finger pointing. There is no vitriol. There is only neighbor helping neighbor. Human helping human. People sacrificing and giving because they see others in need.

Look, I know that an event that refocuses us as a people, and reveals our true selves, isn’t going to cure our nation’s ills. I’ve been around too long. I’ve seen too much. But I also know that appealing to our better natures can help us, as a people, to put things in focus so we can go back to doing things like enjoying our sports again.

And maybe then, when the waters recede and rebuilding begins, words like Harvey won’t be so threatening any more.


{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Catherine Perkins September 4, 2017 at 11:28 am

I hate that it takes this kind of natural disaster but you are right, at this point – at least we get to witness the best of who we are. Most Americans care about the common good, and are selfless in their ability to step up and step in when the need arises. Thank you for the reminders.

And for children of all ages, this quote from Fred Rogers: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.”


Mom September 5, 2017 at 7:57 am

I have expressed these very same sentiments (not as well, of course) to several friends. How wonderful to remember that we are not all people filled with hate and animosity that we see on our newscast. We are also the people you describe reaching out and helping our fellow Americans in this disaster. Good job in pointing that out son. 🙂 And daughter. 🙂


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