- Chaos and Structure
- Johnston Mill Virtual Tour
- Sports as Religion
- Suiting Up to Succeed
- Developing Writing Courses
- The Writing Classroom
Sports as a Religious Community
How The New Orleans Saints United Their Community…
Wanting to have a close-knit community in which you can identify isn’t uncommon. In much the same way that a religion can be that group for some people, the New Orleans Saints became the unifying bond for the citizens of New Orleans after the devastation caused by hurricane Katrina. The football team was able to instill a feeling in the residents that helped to bring the city back to life.
When hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans in August of 2005, the city was left in shambles. Not only was the physical destruction enormous, but the emotional damage done by Katrina was extreme as well. The city was left without many of the ties that bonded the community together prior to the hurricane. Not everything was lost though. New Orleans still had the Superdome, and they had their Saints. The New Orleans Saints, having already established a large fan base in the area, became even more important to the people of New Orleans.
After the hurricane, many homes were leveled and the ones that still stood were no longer inhabitable. As a result many New Orleans’ residents were left displaced. Lucky for them the Superdome was still standing, and though not in the best shape aesthetically, it served as home to thousands of displaced citizens. For the residents of New Orleans, the Saints became more than just a football team. They became more than just something to cheer for. They became more than a sense of pride. They became the city itself in that moment. They even became their home.
When the Saints players came to New Orleans after the flood waters had receded, they went right to work. They had no idea at that point what their work on the field would mean to the fans, but they did know exactly what they could do to help rebuild the city. They volunteered and gained the respect of the citizens. Drew Brees and other prominent members of the team volunteered to rebuild homes, schools, and they didn’t stop with rebuilding. Drew Brees pledged to even go further by adding ball fields and playgrounds to schools and neighborhoods that lacked them before. The Saints football team was doing its part to foster a community through service.
However, that would not be their main impact. The Saints success on the field the following season would help gather the city together with a common purpose. In their first year after hurricane Katrina, the Saints surprised everyone with a trip to the NFC championship. Along that journey, the city embraced the Saints even more than in the past. The Saints were not only a distraction from the still lingering destruction, but also the most important force in holding a community together after such tragedy. In a more shocking turn of events, the Saints went on to win the 2010 NFL Super Bowl. The Saints had come full circle and in doing so brought the community of New Orleans along for the ride.
Without the Saints, the city would surely have still recovered. The key is whether or not it would have been rejuvenated so soon or to such an extent. There is very little doubt that the Saints impact was felt throughout the community, even to the point of holding the community of residents together. Not only did the Saints help to bind the community together, but also gave a series of goals, ideals, and a mantra (“Finish Strong”) that could be considered religious. The Saints Without the Saints efforts on and off the field, the city of New Orleans would not be what it is today.