Many of us watched in horror when Danish international Christian Eriksen collapsed on the field during EURO 2020 and then we watched in further horror as the television pictures zoomed in on medics performing CPR on the stricken player.
I joined in the chorus of despair that these pictures were even being transmitted, lamenting the intrusion of privacy for a man who was clearly fighting for his life.
In retrospect, my outraged pleas would have carried more weight had I not specifically turned on the TV so that I could see what was happening to Eriksen in HD rather than on my iPad screen.
But moral outrage is often too good to resist when living in the moment.
Following the relief that Eriksen had survived and been transported to hospital we then had to face the inevitable outpouring of emotion in the following game involving Denmark.
It’s perfectly natural for the Danes themselves to be filled with angst of course. But the rest of us? Do we really need to take a seat on their emotional roller-coaster?
Do we really need to be told that the narrative now is how resilient the team have been and how the footballing community has come together in support of Eriksen?
Perhaps there’s some truth in that.
But there’s also a harsher and colder narrative to be seen.
That narrative reminds us just how insignificant we all are. That even when one of the star players in a tournament collapses and almost dies the games continue with only the merest of pauses. That the trauma he and his family faced, and will face, is already a footnote in the scheduling. An asterisk to be briefly considered for future historians of the game.
In W.H Auden’s poem Musee de Beaux Arts he writes of seeing Bruegel’s painting Landscape with the Fall of Icarus.
“About suffering they were never wrong,
The old Masters: how well they understood
Its human position..
In Breughel’s Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away
Quite leisurely from the disaster;
…and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,
Had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.”
We all saw something amazing and terrible in that game and then we gave a collective shrug and went back to checking the group tables to see which teams were best placed to qualify if they finished in third place.
How does any of this relate to the Whitecaps?
Only in the sense that it feels like we are watching them fall slowly to the ground as they have, once again, built a team with wings made of wax. Destined to rapidly descend the moment it comes into contact with too much heat.
As a result some people’s lives will probably be altered forever; forced to move to new cities, new countries, new roles and we will once again shrug our collective indifference and carry on with our lives.