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US Teams and Leagues show unity for communities hit by Hurricane Harvey

This week, teams and leagues from across the United States have been flocking to offer their support to the many families and communities torn apart by the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey in southern Texas. The NFL Foundation and NBA Cares are among the organizations to pledge donations to those affected by the catastrophic flooding, as well as teams based across the state.

The reaction by professional sport in the US is a further demonstration of the important role that teams, leagues, players and executives can play in galvanising society during periods of strife. Using their global platform to raise funds and support, and even using facilities and stadia as makeshift shelters or places to collect donations is making a huge difference.

The Houston Texans, with the help of their star player JJ Watt, have managed to raise over $10 million for the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund but that figure is still expected to rise over the coming weeks. Watt said he has been “inspired by the humanity” he has seen in the aftermath of the tragedy, and that he is “eager to start rebuilding Houston” as soon as possible.

The Houston Rockets’ owner Leslie Alexander is also giving a staggering donation of $10 million to the relief fund set up by the Mayor of Houston, Sylvester Turner. The NBA and NBAPA have also joined a $1 million pledge to the cause, focusing their money on American Red Cross and other non-profit organizations working in the Greater Houston area.

MLS side, the Houston Dynamos, have been using their BBVA Compass Stadium as a collection site for private donations to the families left stranded. Volunteers at the ground are sorting through baby supplies, medical equipment, toiletries, clothing and various other items that have been donated.

In addition, the Houston Dynamo and Houston Dash have announced that the organization, along with Major League Soccer, MLS WORKS and MLS Clubs, will donate at least $1 million to the American Red Cross Hurricane Harvey relief efforts in the Houston area.

MLB and the MLB Players Association jointly made a $1 million donation to various relief efforts throughout Texas, including the American Red Cross. Houston Astros owner and chairman Jim Crane, the Astros' ownership group and the Astros Foundation also pledged $4 million, and The Rangers pledged $1 million to aiding the victims of Hurricane Harvey.

Charlotte Jones Anderson, Dallas Cowboys executive vice president and chairperson of the NFL Foundation, announced on Monday that the NFL Foundation would match the Houston Texans’ donation to the United Way Relief Fund to also assist those impacted by the tropical storm. The funds will go to support the American Red Cross and The Salvation Army in the Houston area, as well as associated relief efforts, Anderson said.

“Those efforts will continue beyond the immediate disaster relief as we assess the needs in the area and hopefully come back in to support some of the programs that deal with youth football in the area, that we hopefully can rebuild them after the devastation that has hit,” Anderson said.

Other teams from across the country have also contributed to the cause in solidarity. The Green Bay Packers have donated $100,000 to the Houston Flood Relief Fund. Denver Broncos will match the $70,000 raised by their wide receiver and star player Emmanuel Sanders. Cleveland Browns’ defensive Emmanuel Ogbah is also in collaboration with a number of his teammates to help raise funds and support to the families affected. Basketball teams such as the LA Lakers have committed $100,000 to the American Red Cross, as well as $50,000 by NBA Hall of Famer Dikembe Mutombo. 

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