Muamba’s collapse brings harsh dose of reality to sports

Let’s be honest. As fans, we turn to sports for an escape from reality.
No matter how bad your day has gone, or whatever issues are going on in your life, if your favourite athletic endeavour or your favourite team is in action, you’re able to get your mind off whatever’s bothering you for a few hours.
We endure the emotions our teams take us through, both good and bad, complain when a player isn’t carrying their own weight, and dream of the day that those that we support come through and win a championship.
However, there are sometimes the terrifying occasions when the fragile occurrences of life make their way into sport, which is what happened this past weekend in London, England.
During an FA Cup quarter-final contest between the Bolton Wanderers and Tottenham Hotspur, Bolton midfielder Fabrice Muamba fell to the pitch without being touched near the game’s halfway point after the 23-year-old suffered cardiac arrest.
After being given medical attention, Muamba was taken to a hospital, where he was in critical condition. Thankfully, however, his condition has improved rapidly in recent days and it’s been reported that he is now breathing on his own and joking and laughing with teammates who have visited him.
With his health improving as of late, this has become a much easier topic to talk about. But with what happened on Saturday, it’s still quite shocking.
The first thing that comes to mind is the fact that a 23-year-old in prime physical condition could just collapse without warning. But surprisingly to some, this sort of thing has happened before in sports.
Without making any assumptions over what exactly happened to Muamba, there have been many young athletes who have passed away in their careers due to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which is when the muscle of a heart thickens without any cause.
That cause of death has happened recently in the world of hockey, with Windsor Spitfires’ captain Mickey Renaud and N.Y. Rangers’ prospect Alexei Cherepanov both passing away in 2008 at the age of 19 without warning.
Another incident of cardiac arrest also happened in the hockey world back in 2005, when then Detroit Red Wings’ defenceman Jiri Fischer collapsed on the bench during a game, and only was saved by the quick work of medical workers on site.
That situation also played out Saturday in London, with the medical staff at White Hart Lane (home of the Tottenham Hotspur) and a fan, who rushed down to the pitch from the stands, helping Muamba before he was taken to the hospital.
It’s easy to throw out the term hero in this day and age, but those people who helped to save Muamba’s life easily are deserving of that honour.
Another thing that was odd to see, at least from a North American perspective, was the fact the game immediately was cancelled after Muamba was taken to the hospital. But it was perfectly understandable given what had just taken place.
But even in all of the madness, and the emotional state of those watching the situation unfold, the Tottenham fans at White Hart Lane chanted Muamba’s name as he was being worked on by medical staff and when he was carried off the pitch, which is just fantastic to hear that they cared so much about their rival opponent.
In the days that have followed, the soccer world has been showing their thoughts are with Muamba and his team in different ways, with many top players sending messages of support in interviews with the press and on Twitter, along with other players wearing special shirts that they have shown following goals they’ve scored.
Plus, in a sport where the passion between rival fans often goes over the edge, supporters have become united in one cause—supporting Muamba.
It’s been said that sport has the ability to bring people together, which is something Canadians experienced during the 2010 Winter Olympics. And that often is the case in rough times, as well, with everyone thinking about Muamba and those involved with his family and his team.
We don’t want the horrors of real life to come into the world of sports, but it reminds us that despite our allegiances to teams or players, we can become united over something.
And maybe, in a world of increasing division between people, that can happen more often.

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