The power of prayer or the power of football?   Leave a comment

I am glad to see Fabrice Muamba is making a remarkable recovery from his cardiac episode.  It was fascinating to hear the medical practitioners given such a matter of fact account of their efforts to keep him alive without a heartbeat for well over an hour.   One can only hope that Fabrice’s progress continues even if a return to elite sports participation is a long way off.

Of course I wouldn’t call Muamba’s survival a miracle, certainly not in the theological sense.  I don’t believe in any external intervention in the medical process.  What is significant is scientific and medical progress and the fact that sportsmen at this level have doctors and paramedics to hand.  In the case of White Hart Lane there was even a consultant cardiologist in the crowd.

What I find interesting about the incident is the reaction within the football community and the #PrayforMuamba hash-tag.  There is a culture of inclusion via social-networking to any newsworthy event where everyman can clamber aboard a particular bandwagon and express support or opposition to any issue.  The fact that this often seems more a fashion rather than carefully considered opinion doesn’t necessarily devalue the impact of the groundswell.

In the case of tragedy on the football field I can see that there is a vast number of supporters of various teams that empathise with a footballer, particularly a young, popular one being struck down.  Many of us who follow teams know or feel we know the players and such a public striking down of a hero hits hard.  Current footballers are of an age that social networking is the norm and so add an “official” side to the outpouring of electronic emotion.

Any news event tends to generate a hash-tag.  In the case of Muamba’s struggle for life it was #PrayforMuamba.  A large number of those using twitter to support the footballer incorporated this tag in their tweets.  This included the official tweets from several football clubs.  I don’t think that my Club put out a tweet but, while I would support this as part of the “football family”, I would be uncomfortable endorsing that tag.

I understand that Fabrice and his fiancé are Christians.  I am led to believe that his fiancé derived comfort from the theist messages and has praised her God as Fabrice has made progress.  With Muamba being sedated I realise that this prayer would not have even a placebo effect.  The credit belongs to the medical staff and the remarkable human body, particularly one at the peak of physical fitness with dilated blood vessels full of muscle boosting enzymes.

Where Fabrice and his fiancé seem to be practicing Christians I wonder how many of those using the hash-tag were.  I certainly saw one tweet that started, “I am not religious but…” and ended with the tag.  It is possible that many subscribing to the hash-tag were not believers in any deity but just wanted to show their support of Fabrice.  Where there might be those genuinely praying for the stricken player I guess many if not most went no further in their devotions than tweeting.

Muamba isn’t the first player to be struck down on the pitch. Foe, Jarque and O’Donnell have died recently.  Equally significant are the likes of Daniel Yorath who represents the many who are not yet elite sportsmen who die before any condition is suspected.  Those within the pro game are now usually screened repeatedly although this doesn’t cover every potential condition.  What I hope is that the routine screening is extended even wider into the Academies and Centres of Excellence.  I also hope that defibrillators are made more available in public places to save lives whether of footballers or any person who suffers an arrest.

The Fabrice Muamba case has shown the public reaction that football and footballers can generate.  The positive power of football can be used to champion health issues that don’t always find public support.  In particular football can reach the male population that don’t usually react to health campaigns.  I hope Fabrice gets well soon and that the legacy of his episode is that more people at risk are helped by the influence of the Beautiful Game.


Posted March 24, 2012 by dalekpete in atheism

Tagged with , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: