It was the worst of scenes, it was the best of scenes
Muamba’s name was chanted around the stadium, a choir of 35,000 using every breath to try and inspire a revival for a player who they feared may have just taken his last. It was emotional, it was uplifting, it was heartening.
– The Sun.
I found myself welling up as I watched the crowd, players and officials at the Bolton game yesterday, they were cheering as one, applauding as one, embracing as one. The warmth among the management and back room staff of opposing teams was unprecedented.
The “as one” thing is what moves me, and I suspect others.
Like many other non Bolton fans I had no idea who Fabrice Muamba was until St Patrick’s day, I had no emotional investment in that individual whatsoever. In this there is something similar to, yet different between, the sentiment that echoed around the stadiums of Tottenham and Bolton one week apart, and the sentimentality that went into the Princess Diana death mass experience.
Notwithstanding the feelings of those who actually knew Muamba, the dropping “dead” of that, as good as unknown, football player had a cutting effect. It cut like a knife through the rival tribe mentality; the, “What’s important is…” Politician’s weasel lines; the Bill Shankly joke about football being more important than life and death…
and it showed us a way in which we actually are, “all in this together”, (shame on Osborne-the-smug for daring to use that phrase in his fiscal butchery context). I can see and agree with Marina Hyde that Football need not congratulate itself on the reaction, but the reaction is not primarily about that pride, it is much more about pride in being human. Football is just a front end badge for those who don’t see what is really going on here.
It is only on extraordinary occasions that this effect actually does cut away our superficial differences, and the hushed crowd watching medics pump the blood around a dead circulatory system to save a fit young player’s life, turned out to be one of these. I have seen it a few times before:- in cases of individual acts of “bravery” where a total stranger has, for example, jumped into a flooding river to try and save a life.
What this represents to me, is how some people are open to this sudden realisation, that we are, actually, one. As an individual, the death of any other that I can prevent, is a partial death of ‘me’.
My previous post on New York post 9/11, I believe, touches on some of the longer term effects like this when the nature of a disaster is particularly hard cutting.
We are not in the realm of bravery here, nor in some sentimental projection of love for a particular individual. What Muamba represents is a part of ourselves, not because we are involved in football, far from it, because we are all one human species, and deep down inside, we know it.