Sports Are a Waste of Time and Resources…NOT
Guest blogger Tiffany Anderson is a soccer fan, hunger-fighter and the AmeriCorps Program Coordinator at United Way of King County.
When I told my friend Jim about the time I buried my face in the carpet and cried when Team USA was eliminated from the 2010 World Cup, he looked at me with disgust. “Sports don’t matter. They are a waste of time and resources.” he responded.
I wish Jim had been with me at Steel Lake Park’s summer meals site in Federal Way yesterday. Several hundred kids and parents showed up to meet Seattle Sounders soccer players Lamar Neagle, Josh Ford and Sean Okoli. The players were there to help United Way raise awareness about summer hunger, which affects over 100,000 kids and teens in King County who otherwise receive free and reduced lunch during the school year. Free, federally-funded lunches and snacks are served to anyone 18 and under who arrives at Steel Lake (and several hundred other sites around the county) during meal times.
Yes, soccer players are entertainers. But I would argue that the best soccer players are measured not only by the stats they earn on the field or the number of fans who attend their games. My favorite players leverage their success, talent, and fame to volunteer in the communities that support their stardom.
For Lamar and Sean, who are from Federal Way, we were literally in their community yesterday. I watched them interact with kids who probably resembled kids they knew growing up, some of whom likely didn’t have enough to eat during the summer.
This is not the first time Lamar has significantly impacted vulnerable people in King County. His foundation, the Neagle Foundation, made a donation to United Way’s One Million Meals campaign, which provides financial and human resources to conduct outreach and operate summer meal sites across the county, connecting more kids to more meals. He participated, for the second year in a row, in United Way’s All-Star Softball Classic for Homeless Youth, which raised $1 million for programs working to end youth homelessness. And Lamar is just one member of a team that is known for its humanitarian work.
Jim, sports do matter. I know it! The Sounders know it. And so do hungry kids in Federal Way.