For all the wonderful things the Internet and social media in particular can provide, they can also allow for some utterly terrifying and disheartening reminders that its powers can also be used negative things. Wednesday night was a perfect example of both the former and the latter.
For those of you unfamiliar with Hugh Greenwood, he is the starting point guard for the New Mexico men’s basketball team and one of those guys that seems to have been around for at least 10 years, though he has only been there three and a half. Hugh Greenwood also happens to be one the smartest and classiest players I have ever had the privilege of watching in person. Not only has he been one of the Lobos’ most consistent players in his time at UNM, but Greenwood is also a 3-time Academic All-Mountain West recipient, a 3-time Lobo Scholar-Athlete award winner and has received the Lobo Award as an all-around student-athlete at the Branch Law Firm men’s basketball banquet.
But Greenwood’s greatest accomplishment stems from his most difficult battle. In 2009, Greenwood’s mother, Andree, was diagnosed with a rare form of inflammatory breast cancer at age 47. Over the next 18 months, Andree went through 6 rounds of chemotherapy, 6 weeks of radiation theory, her ovaries were removed, had a left breast mastectomy, a total lymph node clearance, and eventual breast reconstructive surgery. But in June of 2014, Andree’s cancer was back, along with secondary cancer in her lungs. And at this point in time, the secondary lung cancer is incurable and Andree will be receiving oral chemotherapy likely for the rest of her life.
But what does that have to do with the social media?
Through his efforts via Twitter and Facebook, Greenwood’s Pink Pack fundraiser has raised thousands of dollars for that go directly to the UNM Cancer Center. Many Lobo fans have pledged to donate either $1 or $5 for every 3-pointer Greenwood makes this season. Through Wednesday’s game against UNLV, Greenwood has connected on 40 trey balls this season.
However, as I stated earlier, the power and reach of social media can also be used for very alarming and unfortunate reasons as well. Before the Lobos’ game Wednesday night against quasi-rival UNLV at the Thomas and Mack Center, a UNLV “fan” on Twitter made a few appalling remarks to Greenwood about his mother’s battle with cancer. To avoid giving that user any more publicity than he/she has already gotten, I won’t share exactly what was said. But it should also be noted that dozens of UNLV fans berated and shamed the Twitter user for what he/she said and in the process, degrading the reputation of the university and its fan base. The UNLV Rebellion, showing an impressive level of class and respect, also wrote a letter to Greenwood and his family wishing them well in their battle against cancer, which reached Greenwood in person and his family and friends via Twitter.
So while this is both a heart-warming and heart-wrenching story all at the same time, you’re probably wondering what this has to do with you, me, or Colorado State athletics. Well, I’m here to make you a proposal Ram fans.
When New Mexico visits Moby Arena on Tuesday, Feb. 10, I suggest a “Pink Out” game to honor not only the Greenwood family’s fight against cancer, but everyone else’s as well. Not only is it a genuinely kind-hearted gesture that will hopefully raise awareness about the disease, but it is also a terrific way to show people around the Mountain West and the rest of the nation how special of an institution Colorado State is. Most all of you reading this have been affected by cancer in some way or another, whether it’s yourself, your brother or sister, your mom or dad, or part of your extended family. And if you don’t, you likely know someone who has.
But my two-phase challenge will need more than just me writing a bunch of words about it to make it happen.
First, is for the Colorado State athletic department. Take on the idea of a “Pink Out” game, and promote the hell out of it. Partner with a local business like New Belgium, OtterBox, Odell’s or any other you choose to print 8,745 (sellout capacity of Moby Arena) pink t-shirts, towels or whatever else you can come up with to give to fans. Put them on seats, or hand them out as people walk in the door. Whatever it takes to get people in pink.
Second is to you, the fans. Show up. Get to the game not only to support Colorado State and take in a great basketball game, but also to support the fight against cancer. And instead of the typical boos you throw a player’s way during introductions, get out of your seats, onto your feet and give Hugh Greenwood a standing ovation. In a sports world marred by “DeflateGate” and scandals like that of Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson, Greenwood is one of a select few athletes who uses his/her status and platform to do something truly good.
We constantly complain about the people who “join” a cause because it is the cool thing to do at the time. Though many of those causes are incredibly beneficial (see ALS Ice Bucket Challenge), it is imperative that when we get the chance to act on something like this, that we actually act on it.
Sure, there will always be some bad blood between New Mexico and Colorado State fans after what the Lobos have done to the Rams on the basketball floor in recent years. That will never change, and it shouldn’t. Rivalries are one of the great things about college sports. But this cause, and this fight, are so much bigger than any basketball game. We can’t change the world by wearing pink and showing up to Moby Arena Tuesday, Feb. 10, but through donation and support at the “Pink Out,” we might just be able to make it one step closer to a cure.
The Pope has spoken.
If you would like to donate to the Pink Pack go to: https://www.unmfund.org/fund/hugh-greenwood-family/.
Collegian Sports Editor Keegan Pope can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @ByKeeganPope.