What your view of sports and life would be if you had too many concussions
Most people when they hear of Minnesota think brutally cold winters, snow drifts, polar bears, iceberg, the freshness of a York Peppermint patty or anything else that turns your nipples into pencil erasers and chatters your teeth right out of your head.
But having lived there, I can tell you that summers can be the polar opposite. Those 10,000 lakes which are frozen solid for six months out of the year also provide a wonderful respite from what is usually a sweltering August.
August is also the month when football teams engage in that sweat-orgy known as training camp. This is the time of year when coaches have to build stamina and endurance in their players; hydration and nutrition are keys to that. Players, knowing that roster spots are earned in August have an exceptional impetus to push themselves to the extremes of their physical capabilities.
So, in a time known to be disgustingly hot, and in an exercise designed for maximum sweat production, it would be a good idea to completely disrupt all semblances of normal nutrition and hydration, right? Wednesday marked the beginning of Ramadan, which is apparently a big deal to Muslims. It would also seem that during Ramadan, observing Muslims fast for 30 days; eating or drinking nothing during the daylight hours. Food and drink are only permitted after dark and before sunrise.
Enter Minnesota Vikings safety Husain Abdullah. Not only is he a second-string player you’ve likely never heard of, but he’s also a practicing Muslim. This means Abdullah is as we speak going through these practices in 90+ degree heat without the benefit of water. No food, no water, no nothing, period.
This also means he likely will be dead soon.
I mean really, didn’t the Vikings learn anything from Korey Stringer? Stringer dropped dead of a heat stroke during training camp in 2001, and he certainly wasn’t engaging in some strange ritual of self-deprivation. He died because people get dehydrated and die in hot weather. It happens all the time. The simple fact of the matter is by letting Abdullah do this, the Vikings are clearly willing to risk this guy’s life for no real reason.
But the team isn’t the only one being incredibly stupid here. Abdullah himself must bear the ultimate responsibility here, but you know that if Abdullah does suffer the same fate as Stringer there will be a similar outcome; namely the Vikings will face another wrongful death lawsuit. Worse yet, even after you see the following quote, some lawyer would convince a jury that personal responsibility can be trumped by money, desire, even religion. From the AP:
Even while sprinting in the heat and humidity during drills, sometimes in full pads, Abdullah is adamant about his faith. He will not allow himself so much as a cup of water until the sun sets and before it rises.
“I’m putting nothing before God, nothing before my religion,” Abdullah said. “This is something I choose to do, not something I have to do. So I’m always going to fast.”
While one could admire his commitment to his faith, I cannot sit back and watch somebody with much forethought deliberately risk permanent injury or death over temporary things like religion and a job. And while Abdullah may or may not be bent on self-destruction, he is clearly being enabled by the Vikings. The Vikings’ have had a team nutritionist devise a to keep Abdullah healthy through Ramadan, by eating big meals when it’s dark and taking a protein shake in the middle of the night. The problem is I’ve had three nutritionists tell me there is no way to do what Abdullah is doing without running some serious health risks.
What’s the bottom line to all of this? It’s time to think “outside the box” and devise a way to accomplish the goals of training camp without risking this guy’ s life. Let’s be honest, this is a team that has set the precedent that the quarterback doesn’t even have to show his face at training camp because his ankle hurts, or he’s having menstrual cramps, or he just flat doesn’t want to. Don’t tell me you can’t figure out how to not kill people.