Tropical Storms and Pro Sports
The Effect of Hurricanes on MLB and the NFL
Through the years, America's Atlantic coast has been periodically devastated by powerful hurricanes. We all remember Katrina back in 2005 and the damage it caused the city of New Orleans, and just recently Harvey and its impact on Houston. And now we brace for Irma, which is projected to sweep through Miami and up into Florida.
The destruction wrought by these tropical storms is felt through all aspects of society, and professional sports aren't spared. Both the NFL and MLB, as well as other sporting leagues, have seen major disruptions to their functioning when massive hurricanes make landfall. And these leagues are often a powerful source of charity and giving to the communities devastated in the wake of the storms.
Katrina and New Orleans
Katrina caused unbelievable damage to the city of New Orleans, and that included the Superdome, home of the Saints. The Saints ended up having to play their entire 2005-2006 season away from home as the city began the long, painful process of rebuilding. New Orleans eventually reopened the repaired Superdome in time for the 2006-2007 season.
In the wake of Katrina, the Saints played a vital, symbolic role in New Orleans getting back on its feet, culminating in a 2009 Superbowl championship.
Harvey and Houston
Harvey hasn't caused quite the same level of destruction as Katrina, but its impact is nevertheless quite severe, as both the Texans and the Astros have been forced to reschedule games, with the Texans moving their last preseason games and the Astros shifting regular season games to the stadiums of their scheduled opponents.
The damages to either of their home stadiums are far less severe than the damage the Superdome sustained from Katrina, and the Texans are scheduled to play their week 1 home opener as originally planned. The Astros, for their part, have already managed to play home games in Houston in early September.
One story of particular note in the aftermath of Harvey is the effort of J.J. Watt to raise money for victims of the hurricane. The Texans' superstar defensive lineman, acting on his own, took to social media to solicit donations for Harvey aid. His original goal was to raise $200,000. He quickly raised 1 million, then 2 million, then 10 million. As of now, Watt has raised a staggering $27,000,000, with more than 160,000 people donating.
In addition to Watt's individual efforts, a number of sports franchises made sizeable donations to Harvey relief.
Irma and the State of Florida
Now, Florida braces for Irma's impact, as the storm has already decimated many islands in the Caribbean. Both MLB and the NFL have rescheduled games in anticipation of the storm, with the game between Tampa Bay and Miami being rescheduled from week 1 to week 11.
In baseball, it remains to be seen how much, if at all, games will need to be rescheduled. The Marlins are fortunate enough to be on a road trip until September 15th, but the city of Miami may be in no shape to host baseball when that time comes. Meanwhile, the Rays are hosting the Yankees on Monday, and those games are imperiled and might have to be played at a neutral site.
It's quite likely that NFL and MLB teams will contribute to the rebuilding process after Irma, as they've done with Harvey and previous disasters.