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More Than A Game: Football and Hurricane Florence

September 21, 2018

I was one of the lucky ones…  

 

About a week before Hurricane Florence made landfall along the North Carolina coast on September 14, sophisticated computer models indicated that an alternate scenario for the menacing storm could be a more northern trajectory - right through my home town.

 

Many of us panicked locally.  Experts were predicting the size, scope and damaging potential for Florence to be one for the record books.  Not only was it going to hit hard as a major hurricane, but it was going to churn for days at a plodding pace, furthering its deadly impact with flooding.

 

Several people in my area were evacuated, including some in my neighborhood whose properties were too close to the water.  My house is situated one flood zone away from those who had to pack up and ship out.  

 

So, my husband and I put together evacuation kits and readied ourselves for the moment we might have to go.  We tried to figure out a safe place we could get away from the storm, but we couldn’t come up with anything.  Our family that lives points west were in the path of Florence as well.  Ultimately, we had no idea where we would go.

 

And, then, as Florence approached, the original guess as to where forecasters thought she would land was realized.  She went further south away from us and devastated the Carolinas instead.  What was predicted for anyone in Florence’s direct path came true: Dozens dead, a million people without power, massive flooding, catastrophic storm surges and property damage estimated in the billions of dollars.     

 

For us, on the northeast side of the hurricane, we only experienced some wind and a little rain.  My neighbors and I breathed a sigh of relief.  But, all the while we knew that the bullet we dodged had collided with our friends to the south.  While it is rare for a major hurricane to impact my area, it could still happen and it almost did…

 

Once I knew we were in the clear of Florence, I went to the storage room on the first floor of our house where we put our evacuation kits.  It felt surreal to unpack what I thought were the most precious items I couldn’t live without. 

 

My evacuation checklist had been:

  • Pet supplies;

  • Mac and iPad;

  • Cell phone/recharging cords;

  • Pillow;

  • A bag of non-perishable food; 

  • Toothbrush and toothpaste;

  • Soap & shampoo;

  • Mascara;

  • A couple days’ worth of clothes; and

  • My 49ers Jersey?

 

When I opened my evacuation suitcase and pulled out the top that I religiously wear when the Niners play - I smiled to myself.  Of all the things I could have taken in the event of a disaster… 

 

 

It made me think of the other sports fans who had to pack evacuation bags, too.  I bet that someone put in a ball cap they had since they were a kid, or snuck in a football signed by their favorite player, or simply squeezed in a team jersey worn every Sunday like mine.  All put next to their hair brushes and photos of their family that can’t be replaced.

 

Funny how sports work like that.  Fans have a relationship with the teams they love.  We often see them as extensions of ourselves.  They are part of our identity.  Their successes are our own.  When our team doesn’t play well, we feel as though we’ve lost.  

 

This psychology of being a sports fan is like a religion.  It’s more than just a game to us.  Even when a natural disaster is hoisted upon us, we’re not about to let Mother Nature destroy our team’s jersey, dammit.  

 

The 49ers are a part of me since childhood and will be ‘til the day I die.  I covet that Sunday jersey.  And, I plan to take it with me wherever I go and continue to wear it whenever San Francisco plays.  Hopefully, that includes Sunday, February 3, 2019… 

EDITORS NOTE: Millions of people have been affected by Hurricane Florence. People have lost their homes, possessions, pets, and their livelihood. If you or someone you know has been affected or if you would like to help your fellow man, please donate to the Red Cross. Every little bit helps.

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