A group of U.S. athletes toured the Gulf Coast last week to see the impact of the BP oil spill,A group of U.S. athletes toured the Gulf Coast last week to see the impact of the BP oil spill, the Sierra Club reported. Olympians, NFL players, and NASCAR drivers were among them. They expressed empathy for the people of the coast and determination to resolve the issues that created the disaster.
At a press conference, Mike Richter, former New York Rangers goalie and Winter Olympics competitor, said, “Seeing this disaster firsthand, I was struck by the vastness of the problem. We have to get off of fossil fuels, oil in particular, now. … We want everyone to understand these issues aren’t just about the environment, they’re about people, health, economy, and quality of life. This is not a Gulf Coast problem, it’s everyone’s concern. It’s not a someday issue, it’s something we have to deal with now.”
Mike Alstott, former NFL fullback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and a Florida resident, said he grew more concerned for the long-term effects of the spill when he realized that “what we saw today is only the tip of the iceberg.”
Leilani Munter, a NASCAR driver, X Game snowboarder Krista Bradford Ference, Atlanta Falcon Ovie Mughelli, and Olympic track-and-fielder Loree Smith agreed that the Gulf oil spill proved that the nation needs to end its dependence on oil and instead find sustainable and clean energy sources.
Andrew Ference of the Boston Bruins, said, “The fact is, our generation has all the technology and all the scientific knowledge to solve these problems. Now we just need the guts and the willpower to actually do it.”
Chanda Rubin, a highly-ranked tennis player, was heartbroken to see the environmental damage. “Seeing the effects firsthand was indescribable. Really seeing the wildlife made it hit home. The oil-covered marshes were the most saddening part—seeing the oil stuck to the grass and the leaves leaning under the weight of the oil—you don’t get that from pictures.”