March 26, 2020

Tough Times Make Tough Teams

Unprecedented times. Uncertain times. These phrases run throughout emails, news reports and social media posts. Yet for all the unimaginable and all the uncertainty in which we are living, the sports world, especially youth sports, has delivered what it always has: hard work, resilience, leadership, teamwork and compassion. 

When this crisis hit, the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo and the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation challenged Project Play WNY to think about how our initiative could lend support to the broader WNY community. As youth sports programs were canceled, including championships and sports seasons, our sports community quickly moved past disappointment and into action.  The relationships that existed well before Project Play WNY, and those that have grown because of it, have proved useful to WNY these past two weeks. 

This week, I was at a local foodbank working alongside WNY youth sport organizations packing food bags for the many in our region who quickly lost the income they relied on to provide for themselves and their families. Employing social distancing and balancing #StayHome with #SupportEachOther, we are weaving together a network of support for organizations that no longer have the band of volunteers they did two weeks ago.  Other Project Play WNY partners rallied to the call to use their now idle vans to support similar organizations. 

In addition to this support, youth, college and professional sport organizations have come together to create thoughtful social media posts that keep kids connected, engaged and active.  Project Play WNY Working Group calls have turned into brainstorming sessions on what to do now and how to prepare for the recovery when it comes. 

I will never forget in 2001 when an NCAA colleague aptly called the sports industry the “candy store of life.” A sobering but accurate comment as sports at any level can be just that, the thing we turn to for fun, entertainment and distraction from more serious matters. Over the years, I have also learned that the people working in sports are second to none.  They live and breathe the concept of team, and they tend to have the hearts big and strong enough to take on any challenge and at any time. They rally together in times of need. They pick up the call, respond to the text or simply show up when asked to help. ProjectPlayWNY feels fortunate to work with all of you in this great WNY sports community. Thank you for your continued support, engagement and collaboration.

During these unprecedented and uncertain times, please continue to follow Project Play WNY on social media and look to us as we continue to do the same for the WNY community and youth sports organizations. We will continue to connect people, ideas and resources and we will emerge from these times a stronger community.