In recent years, sports have become more inextricably linked to political and social issues. Three teams in Buffalo are taking a stand to support their community, having raised over $1 million in the aftermath of the racially motivated shooting at a Tops Friendly Markets in a predominantly Black neighborhood on May 14 that killed 10 people and injured three.
In a joint effort, NHL’s Sabres, the NFL’s Bills, and the NLL’s Bandits have sold T-shirts for a $25 donation with the phrase “Choose Love” and team logos. According to ESPN, all proceeds go towards the Buffalo 5/14 Survivors Fund, which supports the survivors of the deceased and others directly affected, and the Buffalo Together Community Response Fund, which addresses other needs in the community related to the mass killing.
All three professional teams’ staff, players, and coaches donned the shirts on May 18 while volunteering in the upstate New York community.
Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen said, “‘Choose Love’—it’s a motto that I think maybe that we should start adopting as a country…It’s the golden rule: treating those as you’d wanna be treated. Again, what happened here was…it’s disgusting, despicable, and there are so many different words you can use, and none of them are nice.”
Allen continued, “We’re here to brighten people’s days and try to help move past this and share the grief with our community and let them know that we care and we wanna hold that with them.”
“We’re here to listen to what we need to do. We have an open ear to hear from the community how we can help.” Taiwan Jones, running back for the Bills said. “What we do know is we have to be here; we have to show up. So, it is easy for us to be here. The hard part is like you said, thinking of a long-term plan going forward.”
In a continuing show of the league’s support, the NFL Foundation in concert with the Buffalo Bills Foundation “announced a $400,000 donation to the Buffalo Together Community Response Fund,” in May. Also, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and his wife made a $50,000 donation “to the Bills Social Justice Fund, while Hall of Fame running back Thurman Thomas and his wife, Patricia, have raised over $264,000 through the Thurman Thomas Family Foundation to support the victims and community.”
President and CEO of the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo Clotilde Perez-Bode Dedecker released a statement, “On behalf of the Buffalo Together Community Response Fund, we are most grateful for the generous contributions from the Buffalo Bills Foundation and the National Football League Foundation that will allow us to create real change and emerge from the darkness of this heinous act…This Fund is a partnership to build upon the collective desire to take action and to work together as a community to address immediate needs, long-term rebuilding and systemic issues that continue to marginalize communities of color.”