Aside from Chelsea, Arsenal was the only team within the Premier League’s top-six to win over the weekend. Other results included draws for Tottenham and Manchester City (against each other), as well as Manchester United. Of course, little compares to Liverpool not only dropping points—but losing—to Swansea, who entered the weekend in the relegation zone. No longer. For now, anyway.
And while Arsenal’s last-minute victory over Burnley put them into second place, they’re still eight points off Chelsea who, since losing to Tottenham, have won their last two matches without conceding. Oh, and Diego Costa appears to be just fine where he’s at. For Hull City, that’s quite unfortunate.
But as far as results went this past weekend, that’s all we’re going to talk about. We’re moving on. Because in that very match between Chelsea and Hull City, something far more worthy of our attention occurred. Worthy for all the wrong reasons, but worthy all the same. That’s what we’re going to talk about the rest of the way.
13 minutes into Sunday’s match, Hull midfielder Ryan Mason rose to head a ball clear. As is often the case, an opposing player rose with him. It was Gary Cahill, and he went about it just like it was any other aerial duel. After all, why would we expect anything different from the 31-year-old? Unfortunately, and through no fault of one’s own, the result of said duel was anything but routine.
The heads of Mason and Cahill would clash, and Mason would stay down indefinitely. While he never lost consciousness, the stoppage amounted to roughly eight minutes. In the meantime he would be stabilized with a brace, given an oxygen mask and eventually stretchered off. For those eight long minutes, and the numerous moments that were to follow, we’d be reminded once more that at the end of the day, these athletes are human beings.
If I sound like broken record, so be it. This past weekend wasn’t kind in regards to the sports I follow and love. And trust me, that lack of kindness had very little to do with results. Two baseball players—Yordano Ventura and Andy Marte—would lose their lives in separate car accidents back in their home of the Dominican Republic. And Ryan Mason, well, he would suffer a skull fracture.
Now there is nothing spectacular about Ryan Mason, the footballer. Thing is, there never has to be. As I’ve said previously, an athlete isn’t defined by the sport they play. And they sure as hell shouldn’t be defined as a person by how well they play it. Ryan Mason is 25 years old, two years younger than myself. I am as tall as he is at 5’9”, I just can’t play football nearly as well. Nobody should ever be subjected to a skull fracture, let alone somebody in their 20s.
Forget about sports for just a moment. This is something that can permanently alter someone’s well-being and the way they function. This isn’t about rival clubs, colors or results. This is about human life. Fortunately, early updates indicate Mason is okay, that he will make a full recovery. Following surgery, he was already speaking of the incident with teammates, club staff, medical staff, friends and family Monday morning. This is good—nay, great news. And we should all hope this quick progress continues.
Mason began his career as a product of Tottenham Hotspur’s youth academy in 1999. He was only eight years old. From then on, he underwent multiple loan spells ranging from Yeovil Town and Doncaster Rovers to Millwall, Lorient and Swindon Town. Consistent injury problems would keep him down for a very long time, but Mason would finally become a fixture in Tottenham’s senior side during the 2014-15 season. Finally, he was making an impact for his boyhood club.
And if that weren’t enough, he would receive an England call-up in March of 2015, joining fellow teammates Harry Kane, Kyle Walker, Danny Rose and Andros Townsend during that particular international period. What more could one ask for? 17 years later, Ryan Mason had made it. This past summer would see him sold to Hull City, and here we are.
We should never lose sight of the fact that the athletes we love—not to mention the ones we hardly know of—are human just the same. Sometimes this simply gets lost in the process while watching the sport we crave. And it shouldn’t take a head injury to bring us all back to Earth, so to speak. But there’s a special kind of awful, or shock, that comes with witnessing a head injury. With knowing that in a single second, everything can change. The common human reaction is more than likely one of helplessness, and all we can do is hope.
So as Ryan Mason continues his recovery, that’s exactly what we’ll do. We’ll hope; we’ll wish him all the best. Because at the end of the day, we should know enough to know this is bigger than football.