What do you get when two NHL'ers, two NFL fullbacks, a snowboarder, a Tennis pro, a pro racer, and three Olympians spend an afternoon on a boat together in the Gulf of Mexico?
A few years ago, you may not have expected that answer. In fact, fans of the Minnesota Vikings still probably expected to see something like this come up. On Tuesday though, former New York Rangers goalie Mike Richter and a host of others spent the afternoon touring the BP Oil Spill to truly understand what was happening.
The understanding they came away with, was that something about the way people live their lives needed to change. Immediately.
"The whole experience was enlightening, educational, and saddening" reflected former-Tampa Bay Buccaneer Mike Alstott who brought his son Griffin, an avid fisherman, along for the educational journey. "I'm frightened to think of the long-term effects."
Loree Smith, a Hammer Thrower from the United States 2008 Olympic team said she was"devastated and very sad to see what's happened. It's our clean energy wake-up call, proving that we can't keep living on fossil fuels and we have to change the way that we're living."
While Richter was the lead voice on the call, every athlete, former or current, seemed to understand that they were a leader in their own right, whether it was for their community and fans, their country, or their families.
Along with Richter, Smith, and Alstott were NHL defenseman Andrew Ference and wife/snowboarder Krista Bradford-Ference, Leilani Munter of NASCAR, U.S. Olympians Gary Morgan and Stacey Cook, and Tennis pro Chanda Rubin. They were there thanks to the Sierra Club, an environment-first organization that works to protect the planet and develop strategies to prevent further environmental harm.
Each had seen the damage that had been done by the most devastating oil spill ever on TV, but seeing it up close was a completely different story. While the case for a change in approach towards the environment and expanded use of renewable energies was made, everyone was quick to identify where this monstrosity of a problem had come from.
"If we're supposed to be the responsible ones, I'm disappointed in the job we're doing" quipped Ovie Mughelli of the Atlanta Falcons. "We need a culture change because it's the right thing to do."
Mughelli's sentiments were echoed. "The BP Oil Spill isn't Obama's problem or the Gulf's problem, or BP's. It's all of ours" stated Richter.
"We hear so many times that we can't look through our children's eyes, but it's not their problems. They're ours. And these things have solutions, we just have to choose to take that path and this story can have a happy ending."
The first step is education. The 10 of them went on this trip so that they could know exactly what's going on, what it looks like, and what's being done. Now? They have to bring that knowledge back and utilize it. Teach people about different ways of getting power; teach them about recycling and disposing of their garbage; teach them how to preserve the environment because if we don't, then there'll be nothing to preserve the human race.
At the end of the day, it's about being adaptable because, as Charles Darwin once said: "It's not the strongest of the species or the smartest that survive, it's the most adaptable."
Tuesday wasn't about "hugging trees or spotted owls, it was about peoples' lives and the environment." The ten of them learned about the environment and how to become adaptable. It's about time we listen.
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