Amid the tragedy that has unfolded in the past week in Haiti, the major sports leagues and their teams are stepping up and doing their part by donating money towards relief efforts. Definitely a very classy gesture.
A quick rundown:
NFL: $1 million
NBA: $1 million
MLB: $1 million
Hmm. Looks like a definite pattern. Let’s see what the NHL is doing. “The catastrophe in Haiti requires an urgent response from the National Hockey League family,” Bettman said. “The victims need food, water, temporary housing and basic medical supplies, and the emergency effort by UNICEF is helping to provide those critical commodities to communities in desperate need.” Sounds good. And so how much did the NHL contribute?
Honestly, I had to read the news article a few times to make sure I wasn’t missing a zero somewhere. Now I know that the poor NHL is by no means rich like the other leagues, how the NHL suffers under lousy TV contracts, how the US cable networks all but ignore hockey until the playoffs, how the NHL is on the back pages of major US dailies, behind high school sports. How it must pain Bettman as he sips his $6 latte and ponders the enormity of running a league which probably ranks just below bowling on US television ratings.
Mr. Bettman, please wake up and get a grip. There are more people dead in Haiti right now than dollars given by the NHL. There are 300,000 homeless people in Port-au-Prince alone. The daily water demand is 6 to 12 million gallons (enough to fill about 18 Olympic sized pools). This is a country that before Tuesday’s earthquake, was the poorest in the Western Hemisphere. More than half of the total population of 9 million people lived on less than $1 per day, even before the earthquake. The numbers should make you stop and think. It is staggering. And incredibly sad at the same time. This is not about how insignificant Haiti is to the NHL. It is about helping out because you can.
The NHL’s contribution is 10% that of the other leagues. While NHL teams, players and owners do fundraising on their own, other notable donations are pouring in:
Tiger Woods: $3 million
Sandra Bullock: $1 million
Lance Armstrong: $250,000
Please. Stop embarassing the NHL and all that hockey stands for. Stop embarassing the teams, the owners and the players. Stop embarassing the fans. The NHL’s contribution is just short of insulting.
And finally, for those who might disagree with me, I concede it is tacky to criticize the amount of money donated by anybody. Yes, I know the NHL could have done nothing. Yes, I know the NHL has donated more than I, for example. This is certainly not a contest to see who gives the most. It is about doing what is right, what is decent, what is human.
Gary, please do what is right. Show some class.