Professional sports are one of the most captivating forms of entertainment around for many people today.
Its ability to draw out emotion, bring fans together and display some of the most gifted athletes in the world is why it draws in millions of eyes each day.
But the greatest aspect of sports is the impact it can have on communities and its ability to create positive change and make this world a better place.
When the United States was devastated after the attacks on 9/11, sports were there as an escape for sports fans.
No moment captured that more than when baseball returned to New York 10 days after the attacks. The New York Mets and Atlanta Braves, rivals, were in the midst of a playoff race in the final month, but there was no rivalry on this night.
Then, in the bottom of the eighth inning with New York down 2-1, Mets’ catcher Mike Piazza stepped up to the plate and hit a home run that not only gave the Mets a 3-2 lead, but also brought a rare moment of joy to New York and across the country.
Six years later, another example of sports bringing a positive escape for a grieving city.
In the days after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, it was the New Orleans Saints stadium, the Superdome, that provided a temporary home for survivors as the city lay ripped to shreds.
Following its restoration, the Superdome reopened on Sept. 25, 2006 and in front of a united, sold out crowd, the Saints brought energy back to the city in the same stadium that a year prior was a refuge.
Sports have provided a ray of light in the darkest of times for its fans and its cities, but its impact to create change and its power to reach larger audiences, has been used for good.
When the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which would have allowed business owners to refuse to serve gay and lesbian customers based on religious beliefs, sat on Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer’s desk, the NFL stepped up.
The NFL started looking at alternate cities to host Super Bowl XLIX and were prepared to move it out of Arizona if Brewer passed the bill, according to Sports Illustrated.
With the threat of a lost Super Bowl and the millions of lost revenue for the city that would have come with it, the bill was vetoed.
More recently, sports use of its power was seen in North Carolina following the state passing House Bill 2, which made it so people could only use public bathrooms that corresponded to the sex on their birth certificates, according to The Charlotte Observer.
Since the law was passed in March, North Carolina has felt a powerful backlash from sports.
In July, the NBA revealed it would move the 2017 All Star Game out of North Carolina as a result of the bill, according to the New York Times.
Then on Sept. 12, the National Collegiate Athletic Association announced it had moved seven scheduled collegiate championship events out of North Carolina, following the passing of HB2, according to USA Today.
These are the moments that make sports great. People atop the sports world are using their influence to create change and defend equal rights.
When that happens and more people are brought together, everyone wins.