19 March, 2012
Wanted: a sense of proportion
That the sudden collapse on the field of play with cardiac arrest of a 23-year-old premiership footballer should make the national news is to be expected. What is disconcerting is the nature of the media and public response. Distraught and confused fans turning up to the Reebok stadium, the creation of a shrine of bouquets and poem-inscribed shirts, rather like those which spring up along the side of our urban highways whenever somebody's pushbike has come off second-best in an argument with an artic. Footballers praying on the pitch and wearing specially printed Pray 4 Muamba shirts. And the media circus gathering like a school of undernourished piranhas.
A report on the national news of the incident and its sequel — the termination of the match — should have sufficed, with brief follow-up mentions of Fabrice's ongoing condition over the following days; that should have been enough. Instead I detect the sickly odour of instant dianification.
This lavishly illustrated and seemingly continuously updated full-colour Mail article encapsulates the hoo-hah as well as relating the other peculiarity of the case, the bizarre business of the other young man now identified as Liam Stacey. Young Liam, it seems, tweeted some deeply offensive remarks rejoicing in Fabrice's misfortune. The Mail is a bit coy about the text of the tweets, but Anorak claims to have a representative sample here with more here.
Unpleasant stuff. As indeed are some of the responses. Judging by the tone I'm inclined to believe Liam's claim that he was pissed when he posted them. Edwin's golden rule applies more than ever: never, ever, ever, post while pissed, or for that matter while stoned. If your muse won't take no for an answer, compose and save your amazing killer post offline and review it in the cold light of tomorrow's hangover.
But does he really deserve to be banged up and quite possibly sent down for this gratuitous aberration, all because, when it comes down to it, his abuse was incidentally interracial? As it happens, I and my partners in crime were never fingered for the Great Roadworks Lamp Heist of 1969 but if we had been, I expect a serious bollocking would have been in order rather than imprisonment and expulsion from university under the pressure of popular and media hysteria.
And then to top it all off, I read in the Mail piece linked above that Bolton Wanderers are giving serious consideration to conceding a walkover rather than face returning to White Hart Lane to replay the abandoned cup tie, 'cos it might upset the lads. Now, Howard Webb was surely right to stop the match on Saturday. The incident was clearly pretty upsetting and, at that stage, for all anybody knew Fabrice had already, to use the medical term, snuffed it. But grow a pair, lads, FFS. The correct, the decent thing to do, now everybody's settled down, is to go back to White Hart Lane and play the match, and play it to win, out of respect for your downed colleague. Wimping out almost makes it look like Fabrice's fault.
I'll be 64 in a few weeks' time. Perhaps I am indeed getting old. I find myself increasingly out of sympathy with and comprehension of this world of instant faux rage and of shallow vicarious emotion, the blurring of reality with the make-believe of Eastenders and TOWIE into a seamless continuum.
Grow up and get a sense of proportion.
BBC R5 tonight were in Glasgow, and the first 10 minutes of the programme (live from Govan) were devoted to Muamba updates - not a mention of the tragedy just down the road yesterday.
I wish the guy well and it sounds like he's had fantastic treatment - resus after 2 hours ! - but the BBC have gone way over the top.
I'm not quite that age, and I've already reached this!
Anyways, of course the 'tragedy' was destined to be drawn out as far as possible. The fact the lad collapsed on live TV guaranteed him almost instant popular acclaim; had he suffered in the same way in training behind closed doors it would barely have got a mention outside of the local papers.
Maybe we were looking for another Diana moment, so youth helped enormously to increase the appeal. And while one dare not say it, here was a lad from a benighted part of the world making a new home in these lovely islands so what cruelty that the flying fickle finger of fate chose him!
No one wants anyone to suffer if it can be avoided, and I believe in all heart problems the speed of response is key. because of where it was help fortunately came quickly, so he may well get back one day to playing again. Let's hope so. In the meantime I look forward to the documentary, the movie, the book and the rest of it.