By now everyone has seen images of the horrors inflicted upon the Houston area by Hurricane Harvey. The catastrophic flooding has led to death and displacement across the region. While sports will always come secondarily to the trauma suffered by those affected, the presence of teams in Texas provides funding and, at the least, a distraction.
Let’s start with the Houston Astros, who were playing away when Harvey made landfall. After defeating the Angels Sunday night, Houston was scheduled to go back home for a three-game series against their in-state rivals, the Texas Rangers, beginning Tuesday night. However, with severe flooding that has reached the lower level of Minute Maid Park, these two Texas teams are forced to leave the state if they intend to honor the MLB schedule.
Tropicana Field. That’s right, Rays fans might actually witness some quality baseball this week. Houston will play three games against the Rangers and will almost definitely stay in Tampa Bay for another three-game series against the New York Mets. The Astros are donating $4 million to relief efforts, along with Houston Rockets owner Leslie Alexander, who will also be donating $4 million to Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner’s relief fund.
In addition to the Astros and Rockets, the Houston Texans are being forced to relocate their final preseason home game. They’ve been camped out in Dallas, sharing a training facility with the Cowboys. Being that their final home game is against the Cowboys, the location of the game has officially shifted to Dallas. The Texans have donated $1 million to the United Way for relief efforts, and the NFL Foundation, in addition to the New England Patriots and New York Jets, has donated $1 million in matching funds. Texans player J.J. Watt has raised money on his own, originally setting a goal of $200,000 but upping the goal to $1 million after being overwhelmed with donations exceeding $500,000.
The University of Houston Cougars football team has been temporarily staying at the University of Texas Austin. Their home opener is scheduled for Sept. 2 at the University of Texas San Antonio, and Rice University has made their way to Fort Werth, hunkering down at TCU’s facilities until their game Sept. 9.
The AdvoCare Texas Kickoff between LSU and BYU is scheduled in Houston for this weekend but will almost certainly be moved. Both schools have been in contact with ESPN, who owns the rights to the game, and several potential relocation sites have been discussed.
We’ve all witnessed the power that a sporting event can have in uniting people in the wake of tragedy. While keeping in mind those dealing with hardships we couldn’t even begin to imagine, maybe, just maybe, we all root a little harder for Houston teams this week.