Tag Archive: sport


At what price glory?

AMDG

 

English: Picture of Marco Pantani on the way t...

Marco Pantani –  Alpe d’Huez 1997 (Wikipedia)

 

The summer before I entered the Jesuit novitiate, I hired a van with a group of friends and we drove around France for two weeks following  the Tour de France through the Alps and the Pyrenees. It was a magical summer, we would arrive on these incredible mountain passes the night before the stage, just before they closed the roads off.  The night was spent partying with Spanish / French / Dutch etc cycling fans and then the next day the excitement would build as the race approached.  These men were the greatest athletes in my opinion, in the most gruelling sporting event on the planet.  The crowds on the big climbs would number in the hundreds of thousands, and because of the steep incline of the climbs, the exhausted cyclists, strung out in little groups – would pass by at a much slower pace than on the flat or downhill parts.  If I close my eyes the one image that sums up that summer was seeing Marco Pantani leading the peloton over Les Deux Alps.  One of the greatest climbers of all time – he would dance on his pedals and soar through the mountains like an angel.

 

Six years later he died of a cocaine overdose in a grotty hotel in Rimini, Italy.  I have just finished reading a gripping book about his life, called, ironically, ‘The Death of Marco Pantani‘ .  The life and death of Marco Pantini could be a parable for our times.  As modern sport has become more important politically and commercially the consequences of success and failure have been blown out of proportion. Cheating in sport has been around since ancient times, however it was in East Germany and its notorious Programme 1425 that lead to thousands of uniformed youngsters being given steroids, when cheating became systematic. In Finland they developed the technique of using blood transfusions in sport – which required access to labs, medical expertise and much larger budgets.  What is shocking is the risks these cyclists took, the strain of the heart pumping thickened blood, meant that many cyclists had to sleep with heart monitors which would set off an alarm when their heart beats dropped below safe levels. Following the Tour in 98 there were rumours of groups of cyclists jumping out of bed in the dead hours of the morning to leap on exercises bikes to get their hearts pumping again.  Tragically at  the end of the book, in the epilogue, there is a list of 8 cyclists who died of sudden heart attacks between 2003-5.  So the current insistence of Team Sky to be clean, and the scandal of Lance Armstrong’s cheating and bullying are so important.

Worryingly as sport becomes more important – maybe as a symptom of a society that is losing balance – Sports stars are prepared to risk everything for that moment of glory.  St Ignatius calls this lack of balance a ‘disordered attachment’.   Alarmingly, with the rise of Paralympics, the spectre has been raised of athletes deliberately dismembering themselves in order to compete.  Especially with the controversy around Oscar Pistorius and others ‘blades’, as technology continues to improve soon blades will be superior to the leg, at least on the 100m’s track. When a ‘disabled’ sprinter starts to break Usain Bolt’s World Records – then there will be irresistible pressure to lose your legs just to compete…..  No wonder the Spiritual Masters consistently warn us against disordered attachments to fame and glory.

 

Beautiful Imperfection

AMDG

In a world that is driven by the cult of the beautiful there are many reasons to be amazed and excited about the unprecedented attention given to the Paralympics. We are so often bombarded by aspirational images and messages of unobtainable perfection, it is amazing to see images of swimmer Ellie Simmonds who was born with achondroplasia or ‘dwarfism’ where there where would normally be photoshopped models. I am visiting London at the moment, and had a spare couple of hours yesterday to visit the Olympic Park (although I couldn’t get in!) and snapped this picture. The closer you got – the more the enthusiasm and positivity of the crowd grew, the enthusiasm and good will was infectious. My sister took her young daughters to an unforgettable night at the Olympic Stadium the other night and told me they will never forget seeing an athlete with no hands cartwheel in joy on to the podium to receive their gold medal. What an experience for a young mind to savour!

The medal table currently has China way out in front with Great Britain edging second place in front of Russia. It has to be a good thing for disabled people in both China and Russia that the Paralympics is taken so seriously in their countries. China’s cruel one child policy and infanticide can only be challenged by embracing this festival of imperfection. Hopefully here in Britain, where children can be aborted up to birth if there is any proof of ‘abnormality’ e.g a cleft lip, the Paralympics may lead to a change in culture to. It would be wonderful to see some of the Paralympic superstars speak out on this. Why do the Americans not seem that interested? It is not being shown on US TV, and they are only sixth in the medal table. Strange? Maybe it is in the US where the cult of perfection is most virulently propagated. Ultimately this is a festival of hope – that our brokeness can be beautiful, and our weakness can be turned into strength most powerfully through the grace of love and support. This hope is brilliantly expressed through this Canadian Advert.

 

AMDG

What a difference a month makes, Andy Murray on the same court against the same opponent seemed to be a different person yesterday.  It has been called the fastest redemption story in sport. Murray, often seen as moody, has been smiling, having fun and playing with a freedom and a ‘lightness’ that he didn’t seem to have at the Wimbledon tournament. He has clearly thrived over the past week  not being such a focus for national attention as during the Wimbledon fortnight. Being part of a team and being inspired by others – he has said he is so glad to be part of Team GB and is motivated by the other athletes. What is the difference? I think it is that he was not just playing for himself but for something bigger than him.   It reminds me of that beautiful line in EP 4 ‘And that we might live no longer for ourselves but for him‘ .  It is also beautiful – that in a sport, with huge amounts of money, pressure, were everything is oriented to the individual with a huge entourage around them – it is the Olympics, with no direct monetary award, and where Murray is one of many great British athletes…. it is this environment that has brought the best out of him.

Ignatius describes the phenomenon of spiritual consolation in a similar way – anything that opens us to the world, fills us with peace, joy, freedom – allows us to fulfill our potential can be a sign of consolation. When we are basically focused on something greater than ourselves.  The opposite, desolation, leads us in on ourselves, to self doubt, apathy, cynicism.  This is speaking very generally of course and in the spiritual life consolation and desolation can be much more subtle than that (i.e. If an evil tyrant had self doubt it might be a path to consolation!)  Ignatius talks about consolation in a much more focused and religious way – here are his words:

“ I call consolation every increase of faith, hope, and love, and all interior joy that invites and attracts to what is heavenly and to the salvation of one’s soul by filling it with peace and quiet in its Creator and Lord.”

Whereas desolation leads to “ the opposite of (consolation), as darkness of soul, torment of spirit, inclination to what is low and earthly, restlessness rising from many disturbances and temptations which lead to want of faith, want of hope, want of love.  The soul is wholly slothful, tepid, sad, and separated, as it were, from its Creator and Lord.”

Michael Phelps’s Goggles

AMDG

Some of the most powerful images for me so far in the Olympics have been in the pool.  The rapid turn over of races, the excitement and the beauty of some of the slow-mo’s is quite gripping. The commentary and punditry on the BBC is also top-class. The other day we were told how Michael Phelps, now the most decorated Olympian of all times, trains using his imagination. In a previous games he had won a gold medal in a race in spite of his goggles leaking.  Obviously this would seriously affect your vision and could upset your concentration. When so many races are won by hundredths of seconds how did he cope with this distraction and still win?  We were told that his training covered all bases including this eventuality. In fact a key part of his training was to use the power of his imagination, and totally immerse himself in the race-day atmosphere. He trains to hear, feel, the water. the atmosphere with incredible detail – so that when something unexpected happens, i.e. leaky goggles, it has no disruption and those vital split-seconds aren’t lost.  I was watching this with two other Jesuits, and as he said this, we all turned to one another and simultaneously said ‘Composition of Place’ .

‘Composition of Place’ is a technique that Ignatius uses in his imaginative contemplations and we are trained in.  When you enter a contemplation, usually from a scene in the Gospel, you imagine yourself in the scene, either as a bystander or a protagonist. You ‘apply the senses’ so that you can smell, hear, see as much detail in your imagination as possible.  This allows a deep entry into the contemplation and often ends up in a conversation or a ‘colloquy’ with Christ, or whoever is in the scene.  The power of  ‘visualisation’ is often banded about, ‘visualising success’ etc – and I think a lot of it is nonsense and can lead to complacency, as sense of entitlement and under achievement.  However Phelps was using ‘composition of place’ as part of an incredibly thorough preparation.  Surely a coincidence? Well maybe not – yesterday I was sent this article from an American journal the Catholic Review – called  ‘Jesuit schools influence Olympic Swimmingclick here.  Written before the Beijing Games – the gist of it is, that the North Baltimore Aquatic Club (NBAC), where Phelps began training and has now returned to was created by two alumni from Loyola Blakefield, Towson, and then Loyola College in Maryland. The article suggests that the rigor applied by their Jesuit education is reflected in the training environment that has turned Phelps into what most experts agree is the greatest swimmer of all time. “The Jesuit schools thought that they were more mentally and physically up to the task than some of the competition,” said founder Murray Stephens,  “We were dedicated to the sense of skill and hard repetition that it took to master something.”  The motto of the NBAC :

The awards of youth are soon forgotten, but the qualities learnt through the disciplined pursuit of excellence will last a lifetime. 

Who said spirituality wasn’t practical?

P.S. Whilst I am on the Jesuit educated swimmers theme – Missy Franklin (Regis Jesuit High School, Denver) also seems to be doing well – and claims that her Kairos retreat experience early this year was one of the best experiences of her life  click here

AMDG

I was blown away by Friday Nights Opening Ceremony.  It was beautiful, absorbing and emotional at times.  More than once it struck me as transcending mere ceremony to having a liturgical quality to it.  Whether it was the children’s choir hymn singing at the start, or the moving memorial to the victims of terrorism in the middle with its reflective change of pace, beautiful rendition of ‘Abide with Me’, or the powerful and symbolic lighting of the Olympic Flame at the end – ‘Easter Vigilesque’ – followed by the angel/bird like cyclist rising towards heaven.  These spiritual elements would have pleased Baron De Coubertin, the Jesuit educated founder of the modern Olympics who once said ‘  I tried from the beginning to awaken religious feelings by the renewal of Olympic movement … The sport-religious thought has entered only slowly into the awareness of the sports men and women … But little by little it will be taken quite seriously by them‘  (click here for reference).  I think that invoking of the power of the transcendent is when the ceremony moved into liturgical territory.

A previous Boyle / Boyce production

The religious elements may be no surprise when we take into account that the  author of the storyline to the opening ceremony was Liverpudlian Catholic writer Frank Cottrell Boyce.  I have been told that Cottrell Boyce is a regular visitor and guest at the Jesuit community here in Edinburgh.  His contribution was less hailed than that of Danny Boyle, the Oscar-winning director of the opening ceremony. Danny Boyle was listed in a recent article of the Tablet on Britain’s most 100 influential Catholics.  Famously Boyle said in an interview, ‘I was meant to be a priest until I was 14, I was going to transfer to a seminary near Wigan. But this priest, Father Conway, took me aside and said, ‘I don’t think you should go’. Whether he was saving me from the priesthood or the priesthood from me, I don’t know. But quite soon after, I started doing drama. And there’s a real connection, I think. All these directors — Martin ScorseseJohn WooM. Night Shyamalan — they were all meant to be priests.’  One of my favourite films of recent years was Boyle’s production of Cottrell Boyce’s book Millions, about a young a 7-year-old English boy who talks to saints and comes upon a lot of money which he wants to distribute to the poor.  Boyle has since admitted to being a ‘spiritual atheist’, but in many of his works it is clear that there is a deep spiritual imagination and creativity at work.

It was nice that Boyle said that he agreed to take on the difficult task of following on from Beijing’s incredible opening ceremony because he was inspired by his dad who has since died.  I still remember him taking his Oscar in a carrier bag to show his dad after sunday mass at his parish social club of St Mary’s Radcliffe.   Much has been written about the influence of ‘Catholic Imagination’ – the idea that God lurks everywhere in creation, and so the move to the transcendent or spiritual from the mundane everyday is natural and smooth and almost imperceptible.  This is in contrast with another view of God being hidden or in conflict with the world, and so the spiritual is introduced in an explicit way, often jarring , like God is being ‘shoehorned’ in, often experienced in evangelical Christianity. I propose that Friday Nights fantastic ceremony was a product of the Catholic imagination of Frank Cottrell Boyce and Danny Boyle.

Olympic Beginnings

AMDG

Olympic enthusiasm finally seems to be eclipsing Olympic cynicism here in the UK as the Games begin.  There has been a tidal wave of articles in the press about the Olympic Games however I am surprised not to have read much about the father of the Modern Olympics, Frenchman Baron Pierre de Coubertin. Recently I investigated the beginning of the Modern Olympic movement for the British Jesuit’s on-line journal Thinking Faith.  De Coubertin belonged to an aristocratic Catholic family in the late nineteenth century who were being buffeted by anti-elite and anti-church currents in post-revolutionary Napoleonic France.  As a young man growing up in uncertain times he fell under the spell of a charismatic Classics teacher, Father Carron, at the Jesuit College of  Saint Ignatius in Paris.  Concerned that France, after a heavy defeat in the Franco-Prussian war, was in decline, de Coubertin found Father Carron’s classes about Olympia and ancient Greece a welcome escape from decline into past glories.  He became convinced that to reverse the decline in French fortunes their needed to be a widespread educational reform.  Impressed by the British Empire, he went on a tour of British schools and universities. Starting with the Jesuit colleges of Beaumont and Stonyhurst, even meeting Cardinal (now Blessed) John Henry Newmanhe became convinced that competitive sport played a much more central role in forming characters, particularly as it was often coupled in the boarding schools with a form of ‘muscular Christianity’ often inspired by Pauline metaphors.

Baron Pierre de Coubertin, half-length portrai...

Baron Pierre de Coubertin, half-length portrait, standing, facing front (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

However on his return to France his suggestions for educational reform had cold water poured on them. Discouraged but not giving up, he started dreaming of a bigger canvas to put his ideas into action.  The  International Olympic Committee was founded,  the motto ‘Citius, Altius & Fortius’  (Faster, Higher and Stronger) was borrowed from a Dominican priest, Father Diddon.  The first summer games  of the Modern Olympiad was held in Athens in 1896.  De Coubertin was to spend the rest of his life promoting his Olympic movement, even visiting the sports-oriented Pope Pius X to help him promote and widen ‘Olympism’.  However inspite of the Jesuit and Catholic roots to this enterprise, de Coubertin was to drift away from his early faith.  As he became more and more critical of Christianity he started to see ‘Olympicism’ and its attendant pageantry as being a replacement for religion.  He believed that the Olympic movement would awaken religious thoughts in its participants.  This distortion of his vision reached a climax in the infamous 1936 Olympics, where de Coubertin, after witnessing ‘Hitler’s Games’,  stated that only the Germans really understood his vision and expressed a desire that an institute would be founded to hold all of his letters and manuscripts after his death. If that has whetted your appetite you can read the whole of the article on Thinking Faith by clicking below.

Article ‘Dreaming of Olympia’

 

Limit to what money can buy

AMDG

Hotel Klosterbrau – former monastery turned 5-star hotel

A great story yesterday about the richest football team in the world, Manchester City being thwarted by a priest!  The club, the newly crowned English Champions, are bank rolled by their owner Sheik Mansour the emir of Abu Dhabi.  They have spent around £250,000  on their pre-season high-altitude training camp in the Austrian village of Seefeld.  They are staying in a five-star hotel which is a former monastery. There has been three months’ preparation to make sure everything on the trip is perfect. The players, management and staff have taken over the top three floors of the hotel with their own private dining room, gym and massage area. They have even asked for specific high-density mattresses and summer duvets in all of their 54 double suites. The hotel had the mattresses hand-made and imported from an expert in Rome at a cost of around €1,000 per room!  They have also brought in its own chefs to prepare the food, with fresh fish flown in every two days from the Atlantic and North Sea.

The former monastery still has an active Catholic Church attached to it.  But here City found out that their spending power has limits!  The Hotel Manager said: “They wanted to ask the priest to switch off the bells of the church attached to the hotel. “The bells are ringing at 7 in the morning, 8 in the morning, and 9 in the morning.” Quite rightly the priest said No! ….. and he’s not even a United fan!!  So City can buy the Premier League Trophy but even they have found there are limits to what their money can buy.  As the Mastercard advert  might have said….

Pre Season Training Camp…..  £250,000

Hand Made Mattresses ………       £54,ooo

Fresh Fish flown in ……………       £ 28,ooo

Waking up to bells calling the faithful to mass as it has done for 500 years ….. Priceless !

AMDG

Most people here in the UK are getting very excited about having a Scot in the Wimbledon Final. The first British Male for 74 years but there is also a lot of debate about the significance of Andy Murray’s post match celebrations (left).  He has been making what appears to be a religious gesture at the end of every game this tournament. Intriguing…… This gesture of pointing up to heaven at the moment of victory or when scoring a goal seems to becoming more frequent in top level sport. As far as I aware, in recent times it was started by Kaka, the brilliant Brazilian midfield playmaker, who admitted in frequent interviews that it was a significant religious gesture.  Kaka, who suffered a career-threatening and possibly paralysis-inducing spinal injury at the age of 18, remarkably made a full recovery. He attributes his recovery to God and has since tithed his income to his church.  Thanks to Kaka, I had a lot of material for assemblies and masses with schoolboys over the last few years – there is something truly inspiring about giving thanks to God and remembering Him in the heat and emotion of triumph, especially in football when a goal comes so quickly and sometimes out of the blue.  Another recent exemplar would be Chelsea’s, Frank Lampard.  His pointing to heaven began in the immediate aftermath of his mothers death, so is more of an ‘in memoriam’ than an ‘amdg’ (giving glory to God).  I don’t know if he is still continuing it, because quite honestly I try not to pay much attention to Chelsea.  A similar in-memoriam gesture is made by David Ortiz of the Boston Red Sox.  Unlike Lampard and Murray, Kaka wears his faith on his sleeve, or literally on his boots, which are embossed with the words  ‘Jesus in first place’.  His ‘I belong to Jesus’ t-shirts, and thanksgiving prayers have been seen by audiences of billions after the World Cup 2002 win, and the Champions League 2007 victory for AC Milan, which as a Liverpool fan I avoided, as I was in mourning.  In the UK people have a phobia about overt religiosity, so we tend to be more reserved. When Murray was asked about his celebrations he  said: “Well it’s something for me and the guys that I work with. I don’t really want to go into too much detail because I’ll end up getting asked about it every single day.” When asked to explain whether or not it had anything to do with religion, Murray stood his ground. “Whether it is or not, I’m not going to tell anyone,” he said.

The Holy Goalie Artur Boric

There is another category of religious gesture at major sporting events best represented by making the sign of the cross. In football it is often seen as players run onto the pitch, or prepare to take a penalty.  Occasionally it is made as a gesture of thanksgiving after a goal is scored. This belongs to a different category to the gesture of ‘reverence’ of Kaka et al.  Cynics or the secular minded would say this is mere superstition, asking God to help you win, or the more legitimate prayer to keep you safe from harm. However a wise member of the community today told me over breakfast that it was technically an apotropaic - a gesture intended ‘to turn away harm’. A truly superstitious form of this is knocking on wood or crossing your fingers. The gesture of blessing yourself with the sign of the cross is identified with Catholicism, or if it is from right to left Orthodox ( a la Djokovic – who has been awarded the highest honour by the Serbian Orthodox Church).  Seeing great sportsmen do this can inspire devotion, indifference or occasionally hostility.  The Italian forward Marco Negri was asked to stop blessing himself by Rangers as it was seen as provocative to the anti-Catholic crowd.  The next goal he scored his celebration involved him holding his wrists together as though they were manacled. The devout Polish goalkeeper for Celtic, Artur Boruc,  would bless himself and pray before kick off every game. This was interpreted as a provocative gesture by Rangers fans rather than a simple act of prayer.  In fact former Rangers player and current Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson asked Mexican Striker Javier Hernandez to abandon his pre-match Catholic prayer when Man United play Rangers. Hernandez, who is deeply religious, kneels on the centre spot and prays before kick off in every game he starts.

The behaviour of such influential sports figures is often over-reported, dissected and picked over by everyone. But such overt gestures of faith are refreshing and uplifting.  Much better that Gazza’s ‘dentists chair’ celebration which glorified a binge drinking culture that was to lead to his demise or Robbie Fowler pretending to snort the white line on the pitch, even if it was an ‘ironic’ gesture to false drug allegations.  So come on Murray – man up – tell us the reason behind your celebration! :)

Cricket and Scandals

AMDG

A photo of a match between Chennai SuperKings ...

A photo of a match between Chennai SuperKings and Kolkata Knightriders during the DLF IPL T20 tournament (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Indian Premier League (IPL),  the most lucrative form of domestic cricket in the world, is reaching its climax.  Its stars are ubiquitous on advertising hoardings, its games have been watched every night for the last six weeks, with people crowding round televisions in dusty villages, by the side of the road, in cafes, houses everywhere.  I have become used the incongruous sight of simple shacks with a satellite dish precariously balanced on the roof at the back.  It may be coincidental that the timing of the 6 week long tournament seems to fit nicely with the school holidays.  So India is full of boys trying to emulate their local heroes.  Here in Manvi the hero is the Jamaican Chris Gayle who has hit an incredible 56 ‘super sixes’ during the tournament for the local team, Bangalore Royal Challenges, putting them on the threshold of the semi-finals.

But in a clever marketing strategy the IPL is not just about sport it is also glamour.  Remarkably, around 45% of viewers are women attracted not only to the IPL’s breathless sort of cricket but also to the glamour that attends it.  Teams owned by Bollywood Stars, cheerleaders (mainly caucasian) cheering every boundary,  much of the crowds are dominated by young, middle-class city-dwellers,  India’s most free-spending consumers.As the season is coming to a climax I confess that I am being caught up in the enthusiasm (football has definately taken the back seat after a miserable season….Chelsea who? )  But apart from the cricket I am fascinated by what the IPL reveals about India. The last three nights news has been dominated by off-field scandals.  Five minor players being suspended for match-fixing, a megastar owner being banned from Mumbais Cricket ground after a brawl and the arrest of an Australian Cricketer after an alledged molestation incident in an after-match party.  These scandals have off course sidelined more important news, like the two Italian marines in Indian custody after shooting  Keralan Fisherman, droughts and regular shocking incidents of the infanticide of young girls.  I think the IPL also encapsulates a tension and a fissure that runs right down the middle of India.  The fast growing minority of wealthy middle class, urbane and western, who wield the power and influence. And the majority who are impoverished, rural, but still obsessed by cricket.

The Megastar owner – Mr Shah Rukh Kahn, is the King of Bollywood.  One of the few Indian film stars who has cross-over potential, presenting Golden Globes, , charity campaigner, owner of the Kolkata Knight Riders (my favourite team name – Bangalores Royal Challengers are named after a brand of whisky belonging to their owner in a way to get around a strict advertising ban!).  He is also a great actor, in a recent film he played an autistic Muslim in America  and won plaudits from the Autistic Society. He is also guilty of bewildering levels of hubris, which is not surprising when you see how he is deified here.  He was shocked at having been frisked at an American airport, obviously celebrities are above the security concerns of us mere mortals and he is the first celebrity to register a tattoo in his name. It seems that the hubris hit again when he tried to enter the pitch in Mumbai to celebrate a famous victory, he drunkenly brawled with security earning him a five year ban from the stadium. This has had political repercussions already, as he did last year when he asked why no Pakastani Cricketers had been signed up for the IPL.  A soap opera that will no doubt continue as India struggles in a transition to a consumerist and liberal society.  There is a lot of unease in this transition, and so there should be, there are many values that are being pushed aside and being replaced by ….. nothing really, just a soul-destroying celebrity hedonism .  So for celebrity hubris Mr Kahn has suprised even a jaded Englishmen.  It maybe a good time to remind him on the feast of the Ascension that only one man, who really was God, is able to ascend to heaven, and he was drawn up by the love of the Father not ephemeral fame.

AMDG

No Ambulance, No Doctor but a photographer on hand…….. “He was taken aside and given a key to hold as we felt he had an attack of fits. There was no ambulance around but we gave him some basic first aid.’’ Mahesh (Physio) From Deccan Herald

The news this morning from Bangalore was a sharp contrast from the weekend’s news in England. A young footballer yesterday died on the pitch of a cardiac arrest (click here). In England everybody has been relieved to see Fabrice Muamba begin his recovery, with the incongruous sight of Premiership footballers calling people to prayer. Here in India the family of Venkatesh Dhanraj are mourning and stunned that he died so suddenly and with no medical facilities to resuscitate him. His father said “After he collapsed on the ground, I knew something was wrong. The referee noticed it and called for medical attention. But, I saw no one. Forget an ambulance, it’s a luxury for football players in Bangalore, there was no stretcher and no doctor.” The league has been suspended with the Karnataka State Football Association accusing Bangalore District of breaking rules on medical provision. Shockingly it is the second death at the stadium in 8 years, after the Brazilian striker Cristiano Junior. Perspective is so often lost with sport…. but these tragedies out it right back into perspective. I was reading Alex Ferguson praising the rapid reaction of the medical staff at the Tottenham / Bolton game where Muamba collapsed. Money is clearly the difference.

the call to prayer……

Unfortunately not all medically trained understand their work as vocation but more as a career. Fr Eric the Jesuit director here in Manvi trapped a nerve in his leg two days ago. In great pain he rushed to the nearest hospital in Raichur (80kms away) and the doctor after a cursory inspection suggested an operation which would cost 50,000Rupees ($700). This seemed ridiculous so Eric went to Mangalore (200kms away) to the Catholic Hospital where his sister works – he had an MRI scan for 2000 rupees and was discharged after the nerve had slipped back in to place. As long as unscrupulous doctors are just working to get as much money as quickly as possible then the idea of public service takes a backseat. This is why an education system that inculcates the values of service, especially for the least is so important and the only way to transform a country. Two of the Dalit children here told me that their dream is to become doctors…. I hope they make it and remember the love and care they have experienced here at the Xavier High School in Manvi.

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