Extraordinary times call for extraordinary deeds.
With each passing day of the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S. and abroad, we’ve seen men and women we cheer for as athletes give us an even greater reason to cheer for them: their humanity.
On Thursday, we saw two superstars in their respective sports take steps that will have an impact far beyond what they’ll ever do as athletes.
Drew and Brittany Brees
First, Drew Brees and his wife Brittany announced they’re donating $5 million to the state of Louisiana, an incredible gift that shows again the love the New Orleans Saints quarterback and his family have for their adopted home state.
“There’s so many people in need right now,” Brees told ABC’s Robin Roberts on Friday. “ ... I think for Brittany and I the most important thing was about fulfilling some of their most basic needs and mainly being able to feed those families and to feed those kids of healthcare workers who are on the frontlines right now and are having to drop their kids off at daycare as they go to work to save lives.
“We want them to know their kids are taken care of. We want seniors to know they’re taken care of. ... We’re all going to get through this together.”
Their money will go to Second Harvest Food Bank and other organizations and businesses with the goal of delivering 10,000 meals per day “for as long as it takes.”
Stephen Curry and Dr. Fauci
Later Thursday, Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry hosted an Instagram Live chat with Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Fauci thankfully hasn’t been media-shy during this pandemic, but Curry almost certainly brought Fauci to a much younger demographic, the kids and Gen-Z crowd who aren’t usually tuning into the nightly news or reading newspapers.
Early on, we saw reports of college kids defiantly still going on spring break, and there were videos of foolish young people licking toilets on TikTok. By putting Fauci in front of people who might be inclined to believe the virus won’t affect them, Curry did an incredible service. They got information, not sensationalism, and clear answers as to why COVID-19 is so dangerous — that it is more harmful than the flu, and why precautions like social distancing are critical.
“I think we all can take some of the information we're going to hear and pass it to our inner circles,” Curry told his audience at the start of the interview. “Information is power.”
The viewership grew to nearly 50,000 and included former President Barack Obama. Curry has nearly 30 million Instagram followers, meaning even more could watch the recording of the interview in the coming days.
“There's a dichotomy between people who are frightened to death and people who don't even believe it,” Fauci said. “It's not convenient to lock yourself in, it's not convenient for you [Curry] to not be playing basketball ... but we're going through a time when we have to pull together as a country to not get intimidated and do the kinds of things that can put an end to it.”
Curry and his wife Ayesha had already announced they’re helping to provide 1 million meals to children in Oakland, California, so they continue to get meals while schools are closed, but the interview with Fauci is just as important.
Leading by example
There’s plenty to grumble about in terms of what isn’t being done in these scary times. But looking at what is being done, at all the ways big and small that athletes aren’t “staying in their lanes” as they’re so often derisively told and helping people is heartening.
So many athletes are from humble beginnings and know what it’s like to not know where your next meal is coming from, or saw parents string together multiple jobs to keep a roof over their family’s head. Even for those who didn’t grow up in such uncertain circumstances, many believe that to whom much is given, much is expected.
And now in these extraordinary times, they’re stepping up with incredible deeds.
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