By Eileen Flynn ’20
This is an important time of the year for raising awareness for different diseases. Like professionals have done in the past, using sports to promote donations and awareness can help each cause in a special way. In the past, role models in various sports have brought to light the effects certain diseases can have on a person’s life.
In 1941, baseball lost New York Yankees legend Lou Gehrig to Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) disease. Gehrig’s speech announcing his diagnosis is remembered today due to his sincerity and compassion towards the sport he loves and the challenges he faced.
Even in the last decade, ALS has gained attention due to yet another talented baseball player, this time at the collegiate level. Pete Frates captained the Boston College baseball team in 2007, and only five years later, he also was diagnoised with the disease.
Using sports to familiarize the disease to the public, Frates initiated the nationwide “Ice Bucket Challenge” to spark fundraising and awareness of the disease. Sports fans everywhere joined together to help fight what seemed like an impossible battle to overcome.
The value of sports goes way beyond just the joy that comes from playing. Relationships between the players grow so strong that they are able to help fight diseases such as ALS. The club sports players at Providence College recognized this opportunity and have made it a part of their efforts during their hectic seasons.
The men’s club ice hockey team recently hosted their annual “Pink the Rink” game in honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Every year, the team designs pink shirts with their club team name, along with the appropriate pink ribbons for Breast Cancer Awareness month.
The team sold the t-shirts for $20 in order to promote the awareness of the disease. On Oct. 27, friends and family came out to support the team and the important cause. The rink was full of pink pride, as players dressed in their pink socks and jerseys while fans wore their pink t-shirts. “We decided on a pink the rink game because it’s a fundraiser that brought together our fans and our team to fight against a disease that affects so many people’s lives,” said CJ Joyce ’20. “We knew that it was important to have our fans support not only us, but a great cause by showing up and purchasing shirts.”
Another team at PC looking to use sports to raise awareness for an important cause is club rugby. This month the team is participating in “Movember” in efforts to raise awareness for men’s health.
Friends and families are asked to donate money to their cause, and in return, the boys will grow, or try to grow, a mustache. Nate Jakatis ’20, the captain of the rugby team, explains why it is important for their team to draw attention to men’s health.
“There’s a growing awareness around sports of all kinds about the effects that concussions can have on a person’s overall mental health, from short term to long term, and the damage that they can do if they don’t take care of the injury.”
Since head injuries are common in this sport, Jakatis and the team hope to encourage men to “look out for each other and help those struggling with mental illness who might not feel comfortable asking for help—even if we all can’t grow legendary ’staches just yet.”