Jackson State has the opportunity — at least for a few days — to physically distance itself away from the humanitarian crisis that has impacted the city in which the program dwells. But the football team has certainly not forgotten the reality of the situation back home.
Head coach Deion Sanders, who called Jackson’s water crisis a burden on the program and its residents, explained that he hoped Sunday’s Orange Blossom Classic matchup with Florida A&M provided a brief respite from all the hardship.
“The AD (Ashley Robinson) brought me in during the pandemic,” Sanders said in reference to when he was hired in 2020. “It was turbulent times then. Touch and go. Whether you gonna play this week, play next week. Whether we’re going to have eligible players or not… Dealt with a snowstorm. Now we dealing with a water crisis. One thing that I’ve gathered is Jackson, Mississippi is resilient.
“All they want is a little hope. Just let them peek and see a little light and they going to make it to the next day. And I promise you, they’re going to be there.”
Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves on Monday declared a state of emergency after excessive rainfall worsened problems in one of Jackson’s water-treatment plants. The problems are causing low water pressure throughout much of the city.
The low water pressure raised concerns about firefighting and about people’s ability to take showers or flush toilets.
Jackson has longstanding problems with its water system. A cold snap in 2021 left a significant number of people without running water after pipes froze. Similar problems happened again early this year, on a smaller scale. Even before the flooding Monday caused low-water pressure problems, city residents since July were already being advised to boil the water coming out of their pipes before using it to wash dishes or to do other household chores.
President Joe Biden this week declared the water crisis an emergency.
“You get sound bites, so you really don’t hear the whole story,” said Sanders. “But all they want is hope and desire. And guess what? The Jackson State University football team gave them that. And we plan on giving them that.”