Events like the recent tornado in the suburbs of Oklahoma City show the insignificance of sports in the grand scheme of things.
Events like the recent tornado in the suburbs of Oklahoma City also show the significance of sports in the grand scheme of things when it come to returning to normal following a tragedy.
While nothing can instantly make everything better for those who have lost loved ones, a lifetime of possessions, and are trying to rebuild their lives while wondering why the same area would get hit by devastating twisters roughly a decade apart, the presence of sports can have a soothing effect while also serving to bring resources to the recovery that may not have been there otherwise.
Today across the country college baseball teams will start their conference tournaments to determine who makes it to the College World Series.
In the Houston area that means the Southland Conference and Conference USA will be holding tournaments at Star Tex Field in Sugar Land and Reckling Park at Rice University respectively.
Another tournament for the Big 12 was also slated to start today in Oklahoma City. The stadium hosting the tournament, which is also home to the Houston Astros Triple-A affiliate, is about 10 miles from the devastation area.
With such close proximity to the devastation tourney directors were faced with deciding whether to go on with the tournament, or to cancel it altogether. In the end they decided to delay the start of the tournament by a day to add time to recover.
In situations like this there will always be those who say the tournament should have been cancelled in light of the tragic events and to hold the tournament is being insensitive to the victims.
I do not share that opinion.
During an active event where resources were stretched to the point where holding the tournament would become a strain to the cities hosting them then of course I would say to cancel the tournament; but this is not the case.
Public officials from the governor down to the mayor have expressed a desire for the Big 12 Tournament to continue as planned so it is not like the Conference officials are proceeding without the blessing of the proper authorities.
Stories are already reaching the media of teams chipping in to help the victims of the storms. Were the tournament cancelled those teams would not still be there to help.
One such example is the University of West Virginia baseball team going to Walmart and buying items to distribute to the victims. There are likely many other gestures that are being done by teams that are not being publicized.
In addition to the efforts of the universities taking part in the tournament, it is likely that donations will be taken at the ballpark as well to help the victims. There is also a very strong likelihood that portions of the ticket sales will go towards the victims. While many people may want to donate, a collection box at the ballpark gives them an easy way to do that. It is the same way that the annual Salvation Army Red Kettle Campaign does so well.
None of these things could happen if the tournament was cancelled so the value of the show going on becomes evident.
I believe that by and large people want to help out in times of trouble but many may not know how. By making it as easy as possible for them, they are able to contribute.
In the spirit of making it easy to contribute to the relief effort, people can make an automatic $10 donation to the Red Cross by texting REDCROSS to 90999 or the Salvation Army by texting STORM to 80888 . While by in no means are these the only organizations collecting they are certainly two places to start.
It will likely take years for the areas hit by the tornado to recover but as they have shown from the time of the Dust Bowl to today the people of the Midwest are a resilient people and ones that can recover from adversity stronger than before.
Stories of heroic actions by teachers shielding their students with their bodies as the storm tore through their school, to pets being reunited with their owners, show some of that never say die attitude and willingness to help others in their darkest moments. Sadly there were lives lost in the storm but early warning systems provided a critical 16 minutes to allow those that could to seek shelter. Few can argue that the 16 minute warning saved lives that would have been lost with less notice of the approaching tornado.
Personally I would rather face hurricanes than tornadoes. At least with hurricanes there are usually days if not weeks to prepare for the impact. Tornadoes do not offer that luxury and are a major reason why as much as I love the suburbs of Dallas, and even picked out a loft overlooking a ballpark that I thought would be fun to live in, I do not think I could ever live there due to it being part of Tornado Alley.
I have definitely gone through my share of hurricanes and have seen first hand the devastation that they can cause but it is nothing compared to what a tornado can bring. I hope to never have to face a tornado head on but if I ever do I will know that sports will be there as a calming factor as I rebuild from the devastation.
So let the games go on as the recovery from the tornado takes place and know that the rebuilding will still be going on long after the stadium lights dim but the people of Oklahoma will recover as they have many times before. After all, it takes a certain kind of person to live in a zone where on any given day everything they know can be turned upside down in an instant.
And while they are adversaries in the annual Red River Shootout between the University of Texas Longhorns and the University of Oklahoma Sooners, there are definitely times to put football partisanship aside and just be one human being helping another. And this is one of those times.
Now if you’ll excuse me I am off to get ready for the Conference USA Tournament at Rice University but first I have a donation to text.
Copyright 2013 R. Anderson