Basketball Community Response to Houston is How We Should Always Act

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The human race’s greatest fear as a species should be the day when we begin to feel indifference towards one another; lose the very thing that makes us human.

For all the horrible, soul shattering things Hurricane Harvey has left in its wake in Houston and around South Texas, once the flooding ends and the clean-up effort begins, it should leave at least one positive harbinger in its absence: a glimmer of hope.

With thousands without refuge, while some are dead and others still missing, the tragic events over the last few days painted a picture of what a country can do for itself when it is clear our own are under siege … and it is too abominable to ignore.

Texas is currently in that state of tragedy, and it has been horrifically unsettling.

Of course, there’s those who want to use the string of events (still) unfolding caused by Hurricane Harvey to push numerous agendas, but those people can be politely put in a box, marked with a red, hatred-filled stamp, and sent to the land of discontent. Those people will always and forever be without hope.

Don’t let those monsters be the rule of thumb. Even if it is blind idealism or wishful thinking which makes many believe it, for the instances this is not true, they are the exception. Not during all harsh times, naturally.

The sad, putrid human condition doesn’t allow for empathy to be spread across nuanced calamities. Those with policy on the line or belief systems at stake, it is never shocking to see some use awful events and use it for gain and/or to keep the powerless from obtaining any.

In one with such little polarizing political pandering possible, or an inability to relate to understanding one’s life upending in an instant, a person has to be a special kind of awful to look at Texas and see anything other than heartbreak.

Sympathy, empathy, outward showing of emotion. That is the normal. If only for this single tribulation.

The basketball community put hope on a god damn pedestal this week, after Houston Cougars head coach Kelvin Sampson put out a call for help.

This wasn’t a cry. It wasn’t a man begging for some well-wishes, nor was it some hack on Twitter looking to use devastation as a plea for more attention. No.

Sampson simply asked for people to remove themselves from their own daily lives, look to the happenings in Houston and throughout Texas, and be able to offer the only thing that matters during a time like this – tangible materials that could actually help another person.

It was the opposite of the usual social media “thoughts and prayers” gambit. Some of those are well-meaning, others not so much, but either way, those who turn to their Twitter machine to provide their thoughts on events happening around the world – in 140 characters or less – aren’t making a meaningful impact. Not directly, at least.

Hand-to-hand, drinkable, eatable, and wearable things. They help, directly.

The people in Texas; they need direct help.

“I have so many of my friends in the coaching profession text and call offering prayers and thoughts for All Houstonians,” Sampson tweeted. “They all ask what we can do to help. Well I came up with something. Both men’s and women’s (high school), junior college), every level of college D1, D2, D3 and NAIA … if you can please send 20 of your schools t-shirts and 10 pairs of shoes.”

A cynical person can remain jaded and claim this nothing but a hollow call for help from a person who won’t have any skin taken off his back by the request, yet the sentiment can and should not be ignored. When people need help, in any variety and shape or form, others should be around to provide it if possible.

Apparently, it was possible. It was very possible. And Sampson’s call-to-action reached beyond those he asked to donate much needed supplies. From Division I-III, to random guy on the street, all the way to non-college basketball fan, Sampson’s use of his platform has resulted in real results for the people of Houston.

This is good. Our celebration of it, however, is slightly less ideal.

The instant reaction may be to label Sampson a hero. And to a degree, maybe he is. But his response is how we as a society need to be all the time and not just when tragedy strikes. People shouldn’t need to be praised for doing the most basic actions; the natural, normal action — though such behavior isn’t normal (enough) anymore.

Outliers are outliers. Exceptions are not the rule. And yet, it shouldn’t take something of this scale to feel for others. Furthermore, the scale of a tragedy should not be what we deem warrants our attention, time and meaningful help.

That’s not to downplay the righteous action Kelvin Sampson has taken while his city lays in ruin. He did what should be done; what needed to be done.

It shouldn’t take tragedy of this proportion for people to look at each other, have the despair be obvious and forced upon them to the point they have no other action than to take it. It should be. It should just be.

You can be, without being a part of a basketball program, right here:

Guy V Lewis Development Center
3480 Cullen Blvd
Houston, TX 77204