Sports teams help California wildfire victims

From left to right, Kaleb Nelson (9), Austyn Swarts (21), from the Paradise High School football team, and San Francisco 49ers’ Ronald Blair III (98), listen to the National Anthem before the San Francisco 49ers game against the New York Giants at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., on Monday, Nov. 12, 2018. (Photo by Nhat V. Meyer/Digital First Media/The Mercury News via Getty Images)

NFL teams and players, as well as other professional sports teams, have donated millions of dollars toward the recovery effort after wildfires ravaged California. Throughout November, teams such as the Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Rams, San Francisco 49ers, Los Angeles Chargers, Oakland Raiders and San Jose Sharks have contributed to victims affected by the fires.

The fast-moving fire decimated entire communities and killed many, but sports teams rallied to help bring relief to those impacted in California. Donations are still being accepted.

The Camp Fire is California’s deadliest fire to date. The current death toll has risen to 88 people while another 200 are still unaccounted for according to the San Francisco Chronicle. As of Nov. 27, the Camp Fire has “destroyed 13,972 homes, 528 commercial buildings and 4,293 other structures. The town of Paradise was almost entirely wiped out.”

The NFL  had to alter several California-based teams’ plans due to smoke from the fires affecting air quality in the Bay Area. According to USAToday, “the air quality rated at levels considered unhealthy” forced the 49ers and Raiders to change their practice times. The 49ers and New York Giants had to play their Nov. 12 Monday night game with an Air Quality Index level of 156. If it had been 200 the air would have “serious health effects,” according to NFL Insider for SNY Ralph Vacchiano.

College football games were also affected by the fire. Stanford and California’s annual “Big Game” was rescheduled to December 1 because of poor air quality northeast of the Cal campus, according to CBS Sports. San Jose State and Nevada were forced to move their game two hours earlier while UC Davis and Sacramento State played at Nevada on Nov. 17. Cal basketball had to cancel their game against Detroit Mercy due to the Air Quality Index being over 200, according to SBNation. San Francisco also had to postpone its game against Arizona State.

An aerial view of a neighborhood destroyed by the Camp Fire on Nov. 15, 2018 in Paradise, Calif. Fueled by high winds and low humidity the Camp Fire ripped through the town of Paradise charring over 140,000 acres, killing at least 56 people and destroying over 8,500 homes and businesses. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Chico, Paradise, and other areas surrounding Butte County were most affected by the fire. The California pro teams helped by:

  • The Warriors donated around $25,000 so far from auctioned game-worn jerseys from players such as Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry and through the fundraising site CrowdRise. The Warriors also hosted evacuees at Oracle Arena prior to a game against Oklahoma City, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
  • The 49ers honored students and members of Paradise High in a Monday night game on Nov. 12. According to Sports Illustrated, “Players, cheerleaders, and coaches were invited by the team to Monday night’s game by sending a bus to Levi’s Stadium.” All proceeds from the Monday night game, as well as player signed jerseys were auctioned, were donated. The 49ers owner Jed York and other members issued a PSA to spread awareness.
  • The Oakland Raiders announced that they donated $1 million toward helping those in Northern California. Raiders owner Mark Davis stated “everyone in the Bay Area has been affected by the devastating fires in the North Bay. Many lives and thousands of homes have been lost during this tragedy.”
  • The Los Angeles Rams gave out complimentary tickets to first responders and victims for highly-anticipated Monday night game against the Kansas City Chiefs on Nov. 19, a game originally scheduled to be played in Mexico City, but moved to LA after the Mexican field was deemed unplayable. The Rams also hosted a telethon that raised over $1 million according to RamsWire. 

  • The Los Angeles Chargers donated $250,000 to the Red Cross to “help provide around-the-clock shelter, food and comfort to thousands of people impacted,” according to Chargers.com. Chargers players have posted videos asking fans and others to help donate toward the recovery and relief. / 
  • The San Jose Sharks hockey team hosted a “Skate to Donate” event at any of their three facilities to support the efforts by those fighting the fire. The Sharks partnered with other Bay Area teams to donate $450,000 to the North Bay fire relief, according to NHL.com. The Sharks and other teams also created donation site with You Caring for fans and the public to donate to.
  • The Oakland A’s set up a donation link through GoFundMe and donated $10,000 to those affected in Chico, according to SFGate.
  • Former Cal graduate and Packers QB Aaron Rodgers pledged to donate $1 million toward the North Valley Community Foundation. Rodgers also said State Farm would donate up to $1 million through retweets on Twitter. 

    Tyler Dare is a senior journalism student at Arizona State University