Connect with Us:  

Life As Sport As Sandy Rages Through

Nov 5, 2012  - Chuck Warner

Guest writer Chuck Warner, in New Jersey, looks at how living through Hurricane Sandy shows us qualities we’d like to see in athletes

One of the primary principles for the existence of sports is to prepare for life. Legendary swimming coach Peter Daland likes to simply say, “Competitive swimming is preparation for life.” 

Who could argue?

Parents and coaches that see sport clearly see the development in the participants of goal setting, self-reliance, time management, determination, adaptability, courage, preparation for all circumstances, teamwork and many other qualities that if learned, will be invaluable to apply during a person’s lifetime. 

When Hurricane Sandy slammed into the tri-state area a week ago it left behind a disaster that includes a still growing total of more than 100 people dead and damage that will require 50 billion dollars or more to rebuild. 

It also left behind the demonstration of how life can show us qualities that we’d like to see in athletes. Here are some examples:

Goal Setting - Governors provided leadership to challenge the utility companies with daily goals to gradually restore power to the 8.5 million homes that lost it. Approximately 20% remain without power after a week’s time. 

Determination - When power went out at the Tisch Hospital in New York City, a generator went on. When the back up generator went out doctors, nurses, staff and neighborhood volunteers worked in the dark, carrying patients down stairs from all 18 floors and evacuated 200 patients during the hurricane without a single casualty.

Adaptability - Firefighters’ trucks and normal equipment were useless in areas of flooding. Instead they pulled people from homes using boats. Police officers removed trees from cars and assumed the role of lifeguard by saving victims who otherwise would have drowned. 

Prepare For the Worst - Maryland Governor O’Malley anticipated the hurricane and enlisted the help of 3000 workers from outside the area to prepare to repair damage to Maryland and the Washington D. C. area before it ever happened. 

Teamwork - 500 utility workers traveled from Alabama to the tri-state area to assist in restoring heat and lights. A utility truck from an Ohio company was seen making repairs on a New Jersey street. People with generators ran extension cords across streets to help their neighbors run heaters in their homes. Neighbors walked the streets checking to see if those in their community needed food, water or a home to stay in. 

Courage - A Coast Guard helicopter and rescue team flew into the hurricane and it’s steady 40 mile an hour winds that gusted up to 130 milers per hour to rescue the crew of the 180-foot sailing vessel the HMS Bounty. 

Despite the hurricane sport still beckoned. 

The New York City Marathon which Mayor Bloomberg insisted would be run on schedule Sunday morning, was finally canceled on Friday afternoon because of an outcry from the community that there was a bigger game to play and victory to be had, in attending to the welfare of one’s “family” of citizens. 

Perhaps the late Fred Lebow founder and long-time director of the NYC Marathon had it right when he once referred to the Marathon runners and said, “You know we can’t all be actors, we can’t all be singers, we can’t all perform on the stage but for that one day it’s your stage, it’s your time, it’s your moment.” 

This year, during the Marathon weekend the stage belonged to the people who exhibited all the qualities of great athletes and sensational teammates in the course of living life. 

And saving the lives of others.

This article was written by Chuck Warner, author of: ...And Then They Won Gold: Stepping Stones To Swimming Excellence AND Four Champions, One Gold Medal.