Houston Texans defensive lineman J.J. Watt gets a bad rap sometimes. Watt is the type of person you either love, or love to hate. He is adored by many, but is also often criticized for being an unfunny try hard; an example being when he wore a letterman jacket before the Texans 2012 playoff game against the New England Patriots. Or the countless early morning Instagram posts about being on “the grind.” Honestly, the list goes on and on.
But no one can mock the efforts Watt has made to raise money for his community. After Houston was ravaged by Hurricane Harvey, Watt began a fundraiser on Twitter asking his followers to “help rebuild the aspects of our community member’s lives that were damaged or lost.” Watt pledged that the money donated would be used directly in aiding the victims of the hurricane. The NFL star began with the modest goal of $200,000. As of Thursday night, Watt has raised more than 10 million dollars.
Plenty of athletes from all over the sports world have been influenced by Watt’s efforts and have contributed to the relief effort. Chris Paul, who was traded to the Houston Rockets in the offseason, donated $50,000. St. Louis Cardinals infielder Matt Carpenter promised to donate $10,000 for every home run he hit for the rest of his season, and his teammate Adam Wainwright said he would match the $10,000 per long ball. This list of professional athletes who have stepped up continues to grow each day..
Sports and the athletes that play have both taken on a major role in our country during times of crisis. After 9/11, many Americans used the NFL as a way of uniting and coming together. Similar to the current situation in Houston, the New Orleans Saints rallied to raise support for their community during Hurricane Katrina. However, no singular athlete has been able to do as much for their community as Watt has done.
Sports are often used as an escape from the real world, and often during serious times like this is when people need their favorite teams and athletes the most. Many in Houston lost everything they had due to Hurricane Harvey, but they still have the Texans. Watt also went above and beyond to be there for his community not only as a star on the football field but also as someone who was able to make a major impact on their lives during their time of need.