Ichiro, the Mariners, and Seattle Companies Contribute to the Japanese Red Cross
It’s very easy to get swept up in the always entertaining world of sports. We sometimes become so immersed in rooting for our home team, or caught up in the excitement of the NCAA tournament that we forget about other more important concerns. Every once in a while however, we are confronted with those issues and the sporting industry becomes intertwined with tragedies of the world.
This was the case last week when Seattle Mariner’s superstar Ichiro Suzuki donated 1.24 million dollars to the victims of the vicious earthquake and tsunami that recently struck Japan. It was a chilling scene on March 11th when images of the disaster began to circulate the world. As the situation worsened, the pain and suffering of the Japanese people was felt by those around the globe. Anyone with family or friends in the country was severely stunned, concerned, and disturbed.
Ichiro Suzuki was among those painfully affected by this tragedy. Worried for the safety of his family and friends, baseball was the furthest thing from his mind. And as it has happened many times before; players, owners, coaches, and fans received a grave reminder of the true insignificance of sports.
The Pacific Northwest has long been a diaspora for Japanese Americans and many other Asian nationalities. Located on the west coast, it is the closest part of the United States to the continent of Asia and heavy migration has occurred as a result. This phenomenon has had a dramatic effect on the environment of Seattle and the culture of the city.
When Ichiro Suzuki was signed by the Mariners in 2001 the connection between Seattle and Japan increased even further, Seattle now possessed one of the most beloved sports figures in Japanese history. As a result the city became a very popular tourist destination for many Japanese people, both from Japan and other parts of the world.
After this horrible tragedy, the effect was profoundly felt, both physically and emotionally, throughout the west coast. Seattle was unequivocally affected and through this event the symbiotic relationship between the Pacific Northwest and the country of Japan was further highlighted.
Ichiro has given Seattle so much over the last ten years, that it is only fitting he would be endeared by the community and treated as family by the Mariner’s organization. In the wake of this disaster the Mariners have embraced Ichiro and are working feverishly to raise money in support of Japan’s recovery.
During the first 6 games of the upcoming 2011 season, the Mariners will raise money for the reconstruction and aid of Japan in the aftermath of the recent disaster. The Mariners organization has agreed to make a contribution to the Japanese Red Cross, matching donations made by fans and front office employees during their first two home stands of the year.
The Japanese Nintendo Company Ltd., majority owner of the Seattle Mariners, has also agreed to make a donation of 3.7 million dollars. Beyond the Mariners organization, the Japanese Red Cross has received significant financial support from many Seattle based companies such as Starbucks, Microsoft, and Boeing.
Sports in Perspective
It is refreshing to see a sports organization and large multinational companies working in support of the Japanese people. Ichiro and the Mariners have provided a revitalizing dose of unselfishness into an industry that has been a narcissistic haven for many years.
Hopefully other sports teams will follow suit and work to be a progressive force for good in the world. While it is great to see this generous support in the aftermath of such a tragedy, it is also important to note the absence of such support on a regular basis.
For an industry that generates as much money as the sporting industry does, it doesn’t seem to be enough to simply give assistance after an occurrence such as a tsunami or an earthquake devastates a county. It’s no secret that there are horrific circumstances facing people around the globe on a daily basis. Poverty and suffering are prevalent throughout the world and assistance is needed by billions of people.
While an event such as the recent tsunami has the effect of smacking us in the face with a severe reality check. The fact of the matter is that *approximately 27,000 children die every day from preventable diseases and 980 million people live on less than a dollar a day (UN 2007). We have numerous problems facing us as a global community and these are issues that require immediate attention.
I love sports as much as anyone, I love to escape and watch elite athletes compete at the highest level. But we must realize the insignificance of these events, and the affect that could be made if some of the billions of dollars generated by the sporting world were put to good use.
Throughout history we have had athletes and organizations who work to facilitate positive change in the U.S. and abroad. There have also been countless events that have minimized the importance of sports, and numerous athletes who transcend the game to become humanitarian champions. In light of recent events in Japan however, it is important to put sports into perspective and realize that there are more pertinent issues facing our world today that need to be focused upon.
In an ideal world we would use the lucrative sporting industry to assist those in need. Instead of furnishing the mansions of CEOs and owners, we could assist people who don’t have the means to feed their family. If properly facilitated we could give more people the ability to survive, the ability to enjoy life, and maybe even the chance to experience a leisurely day at the ball park. It would take a great deal of sacrifice, a re-working of values, and significant changes in organizational structure but it could be accomplished. That is however, in an ideal world…unfortunately maybe not the one that we live in.
So for now we must praise the Mariners, Ichiro, and numerous others who have generously contributed to the victims affected by the tragedy in Japan. Thank you for your generosity, the gesture is genuine and consequentially needed. In the face of a terrible tragedy, the importance of a game took a backseat to the people of Japan. Baseball was used as a tool to facilitate positive change in the world. It was a glimmer of hope, and perhaps a glimpse into a future filled with philanthropic endeavors undertaken by the sporting world.
* Source for the Information cited above
Snarr, Michael. Introducing Global Issues. 4th. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 2008. Print.