Unless you have been shut off from the world, you saw that Haiti took another terrible hit from the weather last week, this time from Hurricane Matthew. I spent one of the best weeks of my life in Haiti and learned while the poverty is terrible, the human spirit survives. The following is from October 19, 2005 and speaks of that spirit in a young man.
Houston is reeling. We survived Rita and helped our neighbors from New Orleans recover from Katrina but we were not ready for the devastation of Albert. To the non-baseball fan, Albert is not the latest hurricane to enter the Gulf but a baseball player from St. Louis who ripped the heart out of our city late Monday night. With our beloved Astros only one out away from our first ever World Series appearance, the mighty Cardinal Albert Pujols blasted a monstrous home run over the left field wall at Minute Maid Park and left millions of fans who were on the verge of celebration on the brink of disbelief. Euphoria became despair with one swing of the bat. There was a perceptible feeling of gloom among both teachers and students Tuesday as we sensed the Fall Classic slipping away. Of course, the Astros are still in the driver's seat and only have to beat the Cardinals one more time to advance but no one ever accused fans of being logical. We live and die with our hometown heroes.
Sports aren't really life and death, despite the way we often act, and the longer I coach, the more I realize this. Yesterday in my classes, however, we read the story of a young man whose talent has produced a scenario which is life and death. Rick Reilly penned an article in last week's Sports Illustrated, chronicling the travails of Fabrice Noel, a teenage soccer phenom from Haiti. In a poverty stricken country where soccer holds near religious status, Noel's talent and the tug of war for his services have resulted in the murders of two of his brothers and the forced hiding in Haiti of the rest of his family for their protection. Noel, who has been granted political asylum in the United States, is spending every penny he earns and every waking moment trying to rescue his parents and his remaining brother. It put things into perspective for my students. Athletics cause them joy and anger, fulfillment and frustration. For a nineteen year old Caribbean soccer player, the ability to kick a ball into a net has caused the annihilation of his family.
Tonight, we will gather in front of the television once more, hoping for a reversal of fortune from Game 5. Hope springs eternal, even in autumn, for the die hard fan. And somewhere in this land of freedom and relative safety, there is a young Haitian who probably doesn't know Albert Pujols from Albert Einstein but is praying for one more chance to hug the ones he loves the most. His game dwarfs our own. God bless you, Fabrice Noel.
Applicable quote of the day:
"What is important in life is life, and not the result of life."
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