Alabama shows support for Hurricane Harvey victims

TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 09: Quarterback Jalen Hurts
TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 09: Quarterback Jalen Hurts /

Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Jalen Hurts says that he is playing for the victims of Hurricane Harvey, while the team has seen this kind of destruction before.

Alex Byington of The Decatur Daily reported that, while Hurts has tried to keep it out of his mind to focus on Saturday’s season opener, “the Channelview (Texas) native couldn’t completely avoid the reality of what was happening back home.” Hurts said, “(There’s) a lot of stuff going down there, but I’m praying for them and keeping them in my prayers […] I’ll definitely be playing for them Saturday.”

What a task that must be: playing one’s heart out for the family so that they have something positive to cling to in their time of need. While Hurts’ father stated that “his family’s home has managed to stay relatively dry and free of damage and still has electricity,” many of their close friends and neighbors cannot say the same.

These would be people whom Jalen grew up with, who were a community that helped mould him into the cool, calm, and collected starting quarterback for one of the most successful football teams in college history. Hurts cannot be there  in person to help with the efforts to relieve the flooding or rebuild people’s lives from the devastation just yet. Instead, he must wait to come back home and concentrate on the one thing that he can do: show that his talents were worth the time that everyone at home took with him as a young boy.

Other members of the Crimson Tide are also affected by this natural disaster, as reported in Byington’s article, and this natural disaster is one that Alabama understands all too well.

in 2011, a tornado ripped through Alabama, destroying everything in its path including many families forever. John Talty of wrote in a reflection piece in April of 2016 that the storm changed people, especially Alabama’s head coach Nick Saban: “Terry Saban told people it was the first time her husband stopped thinking about football since he started playing when he was 11-years old.”

Sports psychologist Dr. Kevin Elko said, “the experience continues to reverberate with the Alabama head coach. That day forever changed Saban and made him into more of a ‘we’ guy.” That attitude and leadership translated into the coach and his team building 17 houses. “Alabama football players were active around town, helping out in any way they could, whether that was repairing roofs or carrying away debris.” Lars Anderson, author of The Storm and the Tide, wrote specifically about what Saban himself did, including rushing out into the public with some players to provide victims with liquid refreshment, when it would have been easier and safer to wait for victims to come to the shelters for support.

Now in 2017, Saban is still at it. Saban told the media that “the team has reached out to the families of players that might be affected and offered their assistance, but none seemed to express any significant need. ‘If anybody is having any issues and we can be of any assistance to them, we’ve certainly let them know that we’re here to try and help in any way that we can […] We want our players to feel comfortable that their families are not in any danger or in harm’s way.'”

Judging by Saban’s actions in 2011, it’s not just talk. Many people express themselves by showing sympathy for all victims during a crisis, but not many actually get their hands dirty or lead a movement to help those in need. Saban has already done both. Hurts and the rest of the Alabama players, whether they have family in the Houston area or not, can use Saban as their example of how to stay focused on what is important.

The Crimson Tide football team took care of the victims in Tuscaloosa first before continuing their inspiring message by concentrating on winning a national championship in the 2011 season. In this situation, the plan is the same. Anyone needing help will receive it from the players, the coaching staff, and the school if requested, because human life comes first before football. Other than that, the only thing that the team can do is show each of their family members and friends that hard work does pay off on and off the field.

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Hurts and the other players cannot show their support by beating Florida State this Saturday. No matter what some Tide fans may say, it’s not like God (or whatever deity one believes in) wants a team to win and a team to lose a football game. It doesn’t work that way. In this scenario, however, the famous ‘Process’ from Saban’s ideology fits perfectly with this moral conundrum: it’s all about the next play. Do the job right to the best of one’s abilities and one will find honor there. Hurts and the rest of the team will try to show the honor that they have in their hearts for their loved ones and the rest of the hurricane victims by demonstrating the respect that they have for the game they love most on every play.

Leadership is by example, whether by a helping hand or by a light that shows us the way.