Denmark soccer standout Christian Eriksen collapsed on the field during the team's Euro 2020 opener against Finland June 12, and was given a cardiac massage on the pitch and later rushed to the hospital where he ultimately regained consciousness and has since been said to be in stable condition.
That was surprising. Not surprising however was the subsequent weaponization of the incident by Perpetrator A in the interest of Political Agenda B, in which always feels like a millisecond following everything that makes headlines in 2021.
That agenda in this case was an attack on the COVID-19 vaccine. Not long after the incident, widespread speculation circulated on social media regarding if and when he'd received an inoculation. One such tweet stated that Inter Milan's (Eriksen's club team) chief medic and cardiologist told Radio Sportiva in Italy that Eriksen had received the Pfizer vaccine on May 31.
Said tweet quickly spread like wildfire. Problem being, Inter Milan's chief medic and cardiologist never said that to Radio Sportiva, and Radio Sportiva never said he had.
As it turns out, in response, Inter Milan's director Giuseppe Marotta dismissed the suggestion and told Rai Sport that Eriksen didn't have COVID-19 and wasn't vaccinated, either.
Being vaccinated or not has become a "thing." To be clear, I have been vaccinated, but whether you do or don't is entirely up to you. It's a person's individual decision, and regardless of what you, me or anyone else thinks about it, those thoughts are irrelevant.
But we now live in a world where the most important thought or opinion comes from only one place: one's own mouth. And due to such, in the wake of a noteworthy moment in sports, politics, pop culture or any other newsworthy topic du jour, agenda-driven people immediately move to spin it to benefit their cause.
This isn't a "shut up and dribble" argument. I've actually no problem with athletes speaking their minds, for we've been asking them to do it for years.
That doesn't mean I'd choose it. After all, sports are better consumed without the distractions we're literally watching to avoid. But as long as humans are playing the games, it's absurd to think human elements won't slither their way into the figurative arena or onto athlete's figurative soap box — and that's fine. Yet, while I'm willing to accept an imperfection or two, what I've little room for are the opportunists who are always looking to push you in their direction at the expense of the truth.
Christian Eriksen is likely going to be okay. He may not play soccer again, but — at least at this point — it appears he has and will survive an episode that could've led to a far more dire result. However, in the wake of his near-death on a rather substantial stage, a great number of people were far less concerned for his life than they were for how his potential death could fuel their argument.
That's a problem.
This isn't just a "vaccine" thing either. It applies to political figures and campaigns, human rights issues, racial turbulence, taxes, one's eating habits, and of course — masks.
Everyone has an opinion on masks, but if it's the wrong one, the world and all its ills are a direct result of you or me wearing or not wearing the damn thing, and depending on who you're talking to, you could simultaneously be either a hero or a goat — and not the anagrammatic Greatest of All Time.
When I heard about Eriksen, I merely wondered how he was and whether he'd be okay. Much like I felt when something similar happened to University of Florida basketball player Keyontae Johnson this past December, or when Tiger Woods was nearly killed in a car crash a few months ago. Or, for that matter, when any other athlete is injured on or off the field. I default to concern for their well-being rather than why or who's to blame. I'm not sure what that makes me, but I know what it doesn't.
Good luck weaponizing that.
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