The words “homeland” and “security” bring images of colorful terror alerts, angry terrorists and post-Katrina New Orleans to mind. The Missoula Osprey baseball team is rarely included in the mental inventory.
Maybe it should be.
The Osprey, along with 54 other minor league baseball teams, are taking part in the Department of Homeland Security program “Ready.” The campaign, which Minor League Baseball has been involved with since its 2003 inception, was designed by the Advertising Council—the group behind such campaigns as “Buy War Bonds,” the “Crying Indian” and Smokey Bear.
“Ready” aims to help prepare American families prepare for a range of potential disasters, from hurricanes to terrorism, by recommending the acquisition of flashlights, water, etc.
“Ready Kids” activity books were handed out at Sunday and Monday night Osprey games at Ogren-Allegiance Park. The activity book involves a hummingbird and family of mountain lions who prepare for emergencies in comic form. Games and pictures to color are included; possible terrorist plot outcomes are not.
A pamphlet geared toward adults does discuss terrorism, but without much depth or undue fearmongering.
“We felt it was a worthwhile cause because most homes are not prepared,” Osprey vice president and general manager Matt Ellis said Tuesday.
Ellis said the Osprey organization reviewed the program before getting on board to make sure it was not just government propaganda.
Monday night, many fans walked past the folks handing out the pamphlets without stopping, and a few who did stop—including two Missoula police officers—admitted they didn’t look at the activity book or the pamphlet.
“I think most people look at them at home,” Ellis said.
Erin Streeter, director of the Ready campaign, said from her Washington D.C. office that, according to surveys performed by the Advertising Council, the program has been successful at helping citizens prepare for disaster. Though she didn’t have exact figures on hand, she said the program—which also includes a web site and a toll-free phone center—costs around $3 million a year.