Dubai: We are all guilty at getting caught up in the moment when it comes to sport — be it a inflammatory red card, a record-breaking ace or a stunning hole-in-one — but there are moments that make you take a step back and realise that these athletes are putting everything on the line for our ‘entertainment’.
Sadly this week has seen four incidents that really made us take stock.
Firstly was the passing of the great Diego Maradona, who allowed his fame and glory - and the excesses that came with it - to consume him and he paid the ultimate price.
Then there was the death of Papa Bouba Diop. At the age of 42, a life of physical exertion took its toll and the Senegalese former Fulham, Portsmouth and West Ham United passed away on Sunday.
While these tragic moments will live with us forever, there were two more incidents that could have had equally dire results.
Wolves striker Raul Jimenez is thankfully said to be conscious in hospital and speaking after a clash of heads during his side’s Premier League win at Arsenal.
Sunday’s match at Emirates Stadium took a dreadful turn after a coming-together between Jimenez and Arsenal’s David Luiz. The incident left the Wolves man prone on the floor. Jimenez was treated on the pitch, with an oxygen mask on his face before he was taken to hospital.
As we go about our everyday lives, and tune in to watch these guys giving their all, it is easy to forget what they are doing for our entertainment. The risks taken are monumental and many questions have to be asked as to why all involved permitted David Luiz to play on with a bandaged head, given he felt just as much of the force of the collision.
“You start hearing ‘code red’,” said Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo. “It was a bad moment. What was the reaction? Panic, panic panic. You could see the faces on the teammates. It was a serious situation. It’s awful and terrible.”
Then there was the most harrowing moment of the weekend at the Sakhir Circuit in Bahrain as Romain Grosjean walked away from a fireball crash on the opening lap of the Formula One Grand Prix after he hit a barrier and his car split in two.
I am not overstating when I say only a series of fortunate incidents saved his life — from the halo system to the first-responders to the improved fireproof overalls. F1 managing director Ross Brawn agreed. “There is absolutely no doubt the halo was the factor that saved the day — and saved Romain,” Brawn said.
Christian Horner, the Red Bull boss who opposed the introduction of the halo system following the death of Jules Bianchi in 2015, gave the moment clarity on Sunday.
“The car has gone through the barrier. He has survived that impact. The car, the safety cell, the halo, the fireproof overalls, the belts, the Hans system, the extraction, the FIA crew being there within seconds, the guys fearlessly going in to extract him from the car. Of course you’re always going to learn but I would say that’s the biggest result of the day.”
Next time you watch your favourite sport, and you are criticising a missed cross, a wobble on the track or simply a moment of hot-headed fury, just take a moment to consider what these guys and girls are putting on the line.