The city of Houston has been grabbing a lot of headlines recently, from the devastation of Hurricane Harvey to the sports world, where Texans owner Bob McNair landed in hot water after a distasteful comment he made in reference to his players being “inmates.”
In case you missed it, McNair, who was unaware of a reporter’s presence, made a terrible reference to the old idiom “the inmates are running the asylum” in reference to his players taking a knee during the national anthem. He replaced the word “asylum” with “prison” and chalked up another distasteful comment attributed to the already questionable moral standards of the NFL.
If that weren’t enough, Houston Astros first baseman Yuli Gurriel received a delayed suspension for making racist gestures towards L.A. Dodger Yu Darvish. Gurriel was caught pulling the corners of his eyes back and mouthing “chinito” at Darvish, a classless move that will cost him a huge chunk of his salary and a five-game suspension next season.
Amid all of this chaos, a bit of good news emerges for Houston fans: the Astros are in the World Series — and winning. There seems to be a recurring theme here; in the wake of a disaster or tragedy, we see entire cities rally around sports teams and overcome grim situations. Hurricane Harvey flooded and destroyed massive areas of Houston, leaving a total of 77 dead and thousands of homes and lives destroyed.
The amazing effort on the Astros part is reminiscent of the rallying cries of the New Orleans Saints after Hurricane Katrina, or the chilling speech given by the Boston Red Sox’ David “Big Papi” Ortiz after the Boston Marathon bombings, in which he uses some language that I cannot repeat here.
In Game 5 of the World Series, we witnessed one of the best games in recent memory. It was a back-and-forth battle in which both teams seemed like they’d be able to run away with it. We saw an ecstatic crowd lose their minds when Astro Alex Bregman cracked a line-drive single that scored the game-winning run.
Despite all of the controversy surrounding professional sports in Houston at the moment, I’m reminded of the positive moments. I remember seeing Texans star J.J. Watt at the forefront of Harvey relief efforts, raining about $37 million on the city. I then saw my good friend Chris Medve from the U.S. Navy, a recruiter in Texas, on the Jumbotron at Minute Maid Field as they honored veterans before the game.
All of this reminds me of the power a unified community can have, and sports really give people a common theme to rally behind in times of crisis. I may be a Washington Nationals fan (sigh…), but this week, I’m pulling for the Astros.