EDITOR’S NOTE: This post is by Brian Milne, Founder of the BallHyped Sports News Service and Sports Blog Voting Community.

There are times when we sportswriters and bloggers take our sports far too seriously.

We compared the games we play to warfare, and call the defeats by our favorite teams “disasters” and “meltdowns.”

But until you’ve faced something like the earthquake and tsunami that wiped out Japan, and wreaked havoc in a number of other countries, you don’t know what real disaster is.

It’s also the reason I’ve never referred to a sporting event as a disaster, or compared sport to war (as I wrote about in a piece about Pat Tillman well before he was killed while serving his country).

Don Landrigan knows about real disaster. A friend of the BallHyped.com community, and the blogger behind With-Malice.com on the Bloguin network, Don lives in Japan and has witnessed this weekend’s catastrophe first hand.

One day he was writing about the Lakers losing to the Miami Heat, the next he’s watching his country get torn to pieces by Mother Nature, scrambling via social media to let friends and family know he’s OK and doing his best to help support his country in this time of need.

Don, for those who are familiar with his blogs on the Lakers but are unfamiliar with his backstory, lives on the island of Kyushu, the southern most of the main islands off Japan’s coast.

The earthquake and ensuing tsunami occurred north of Tokyo, where most of the devistation took place.

“I have a few friends up where it happened, but I believe they’re ok too… tho’ honestly it’s a little difficult to find out,” Don wrote in an email I received late Friday in the U.S.

While Don is OK, he’s quick to point out Japan is not, particularly the northern region.  While initial reports Friday suggested 200-300 people were found dead, Don feared that figure was more likely to be in the thousands than it was the hundreds. And on Saturday, that fear was realized, with news outlets like the Kyodo News reporting that in Minamisanriku alone, there are 9,500 people who are unaccounted for.

It’ll be days, weeks, possibly months before we know just how many lives were lost, and it’ll be even longer before Japan can return to some sense of normality.

“This quake, has been pretty devastating. It’s said to be 8000 times more powerful than the one that hit Christchurch,” Don writes on his blog. “No typo there: 8000. Just off the coast of Japan, about 300km north of Tokyo.

“The ensuing tsunami has been the worst part. 1400 are confirmed dead, but the end toll will be well in excess of that, perhaps many times more.”

Which raises the question, what can we do to help?

As Don writes on his blog: “The international community has responded quickly too.  Relief teams and aid are coming in from all over the world.

“On a more personal level, if you wish to help, then making a donation to the Red Cross would be fantastic, and go a long way to helping the nation of Japan.”

We here at BallHyped.com can’t stress enough how important it is for everyone to donate to the Red Cross in this time of need.

That’s the best way people here in the U.S. can show their support … now, and down the road after the U.S. media coverage has gone elsewhere, and Japan finds itself in the same boat that Haiti, Chile and Mexico found themselves in after the initial blitz of media coverage.

Because as Don notes, he might be OK, but the rest of Japan is not.

Photo courtesy Flickr

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