The reasons why young and healthy sportspeople fall over dead on sports grounds are manifold. Most of the time, the cause will be a pre-existing and hitherto undiagnosed heart condition, rarely will there be an actual acute heart attack or inflammatory process of the heart muscle or its lining as the actual cause of the cardiac arrest.
There have been 12 or so sudden cardiac deaths of soccer players in the last few years alone, the most recent instance of a sudden collapse in cardiac arrest being that of 23-yo Bolton Wanderers player Fabrice Muamba.
What gets me in these tragic situations is this whole “we pray for him” business. In fact, it drives me up the wall. In Muamba’s case, a bunch of doctors gathered on the pitch, skillfully provided CPR and used a defibrillator to restart his heart. Then after getting him back, he was taken to a cardiological centre in London, where specialists are looking after him now. This guy is alive only because of science and the skill of doctors, not because of any heartfelt appeals to sky fairies.
If people want to praise anyone for Muamba’s survival so far, how about directing their cheers to the medical professionals who saved his life, or at least did the best they could to do so ? Praying to an invisible deity, who if you even want to grant its existence and omnipotence in the first place, did after all allow Muamba to fall over dead to start with, to be saving his life now just does not make much sense at all.