How the U.S. Government and a FOX News Appearance Brought the U.S. Women’s Tackle Football Team Stranded in Honduras Back Home

Published on March 30, 2020

When the U.S. Women’s Tackle Football Team arrived in Honduras last week believing their only mission was to score touchdowns—they had another thing coming when the Honduras government announced hours before the team was supposed to return to the U.S., that it would be closing its borders for a week amidst COVID-19 concerns.

The American Football Events team had been in Honduras to compete in the American Women’s Bowl, which was cancelled midway through the competition, leaving the team with no time to get an emergency flight back to the U.S.

Consequently, the team spent an entire week stuck in Honduras.

“All of our airlines do not have planes that ‘sleep’ here at the airport so we had no way of scrambling to get out since we had no way to get out,” the team wrote in a Facebook post after the border closure.

Now, here we are, a week after the Team was stranded in Honduras, watching them “reacclimate” to life back in the U.S. as COVID-19 continues to terrorize and inflict damage to our health, economy, and social norm.

But how did the Team return so quickly back to the U.S.? Especially because traditionally speaking, the U.S. Government does not allot funds in order to get people out of a country.

When the Team of 55 contacted the U.S. Embassy for assistance, they were refused for that very reason. Inevitably, the team was forced to rely on donations to pay for extra hotel stays, food, and eventually a travel back home.

However, the team struggled to come up with funds to pay their hotel and food bills until the border reopened.

“We are used to giving back to the community. We are used to bringing them different things. Helping the homeless, the poor. Now the roles have changed. We are asking for help for us to help maintain a safe place while we are here,” said Coach Bill Avalos, American Football Events.

Looking for a light at the end of the tunnel, the 55 women, who were safe and quarantined in their hotel room, were running out of ideas on how they could legally leave the country, when 1PM rolled around.

Playing on the TV was FOX News anchor, Harris Faulkner with her new special Coronavirus Pandemic: Questions Answered, to which the team immediately reached out to, submitting their story in hopes the world could help them return home.

Source: FOX News

Streaming the entire team in live from Honduras, FOX News’ Harris Faulkner had the entire team and coach Stephanie Balochko appear on Outnumbered Overtime to outline their situation and efforts to get home.

But going back to precedent of the U.S. Government not allocating funds to bring someone out of a country…times are certainly changing.

Adding another shock to the world, the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Transportation Command and SOUTHCOM which oversees military activities in Latin America, did away with tradition last Friday when it sent a US Air Force C-17 and C-130 to Honduras Soto Cano Air Base to airlift the 55-member team out of the country to Joint Base Charleston in South Carolina.

Jonathan Rath Hoffman, assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, took to Twitter on behalf of the U.S. agencies last Friday informing the world of its air mission:

Source: Twitter

On March 27, U.S. President Donald Trump signed a historic $2 trillion stimulus package (previously believed to be $1 trillion) as the American public and the U.S. economy continue to fight the devastating spread of the new coronavirus. As of today, this new law now holds the title of the largest emergency aid package in U.S. history.

But with COVID-19 forcing our world to go digital (literally), we were curious about how FOX News came into play, using its newest coronavirus series, Outnumbered to act not as a source of traditional news, but straight up educational and informative news for anyone and everyone who had questions about the pandemic.

How did Faulkner jump on the story so quickly, but more importantly, how did she take a digital plea for help and turn it into a sentimental high-profile story that rightfully and deservedly gained the attention of the U.S. Government?

In a statement to Grit Daily, Faulkner shared:

“My heart began to beat fast when I came across the tweet directed at me, asking for help.  The pandemic can remind us of what’s important. My military brat upbringing taught me that Americans support each other.  Within days I saw an update tweet, again directed my way with some high-profile people attached. Oh my gosh, they were coming home! Here’s what I told my Outnumbered Overtime team: ‘We accomplished the kind of public service in a crisis that we as journalists are capable of. We made a difference in 55 American lives this week.’”

But not everyone was as lucky as the women’s American Football team, as there are still U.S. citizens stranded in Honduras, with over 67 reported confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the country and the first confirmed death this week, according to Al Jazeera.

It still remains a number one priority of the U.S. government to continually assess travel conditions in all areas affected by COVID-19, with New York remaining more critical than ever.

“We have no higher priority than the safety and security of U.S. citizens overseas,” the Team shared in a statement to USA Today. “We are continuously assessing travel conditions in all areas affected by COVID-19, and will continue to update our travel advisories and safety information for U.S. travelers as situations evolve.”

FOX News’ coronavirus special Coronavirus Pandemic: Questions Answered continues weekdays at 1PM with Harris Faulkner. According to Nielsen Media Research, Outnumbered Overtime is number one in cable at 1PM and has dominated its broadcast competition for 25 weeks since July 2019.

Andrew "Drew" Rossow is an award-winning journalist and former News Editor at Grit Daily. Joining in 2019, he was instrumental in Grit Daily's "year two" and in Grit Daily House, the alt-SXSW activation that Fast Company described as bringing "SXSW back to its roots." He is a nominal co-founder at Grit Daily.

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