In the early days of September, mandatory evacuations were implemented for the entire state of Florida in the path of Hurricane Irma, a storm that has set historical records for size and strength of impact. These evacuations grew to include much of South Carolina and southern Georgia, leaving these people with no choice but to come north to Atlanta and beyond.
Now, after the hurricane, we see that millions of homes without power, trees down and expensive damage await those Floridians in their home state. It seems that only bad has come out of this destructive storm that ravaged the southeast, right?
Like most things in life, there isn't all bad. After natural disasters, we as humans are known to come together, opening our doors and our cities to any and all who need it (even if they DO clog State Bridge even more so than usual). In fact, one of the best examples of this are our very own Atlanta Braves.
Beginning September 7th, any evacuees with a photo ID that showed they were from Florida (or any of the counties in Georgia or South Carolina that evacuated) got a free ticket, a deal that they extended for four days. They did this to give these families something to look forward to, a fun activity for people who were fleeing for their lives; and, since their new stadium is right off of I-75, it was convenient for many people as well.
Although this might not have boosted Atlanta's fanbase, since they were playing the Miami Marlins, the gesture was unmistakable. Atlanta Braves president of business Derek Schiller said, “We know how difficult it has been for those who have had to pack up and leave their homes as Hurricane Irma approaches.We hope we can help take their mind off the storm for a few hours by coming to enjoy a baseball game at SunTrust Park," a truly grand example of southern hospitality.
However, this event is more than just free tickets to a fun night for families. This gift and opportunity represents an offer of friendship, an extension of one's home to many others. It represents a reversal of the current trend dividing America, of the stinginess of many sports programs and of the money-grabbing policies that a lot of big corporations exhibit, even if it is only temporary.
It is a coming together of people in an attempt to make a bad situation a little bit better, a trait that is (should be) American in nature. It is neighbors opening up and giving, being generous and being welcoming. It is people from across the country facing a common enemy (especially since Irma did show her face here as well) that banded together.
And what makes it even better? America's sport, of course.