The MAFL and Dong Ji have confirmed that they will press on with the season schedule next weekend. Hou’s funeral will take place on Jovis, 3 days before the club’s match on the afternoon of Solis. Originally planned as an away game, the Comets have agreed to play in Huacheng to allow for a pre-game memorial service to honour Hou.
Hou’s death has been difficult to process. Had he suffered an accident on the pitch, it would have been more straight forward to assign blame and easier to accept.
“Physical risk and injury is expected in Aero Football,” says DJ captain, Ekberg, “But we don’t often talk about the head games and emotional baggage that come with competition.”
Some argue that it goes much deeper than simply the pressure of playing professional ball, but that this is a specific byproduct of 1st generation Martians. Colonists from Earth undergo months (if not years) of pre-screening and preparation to come to Mars, but what can be done for those born here?
Not only has the 1st generation grown up in completely different conditions than their parents, their conception and very existence is only possible as a result careful genetic manipulation. Considering each colony applies their own flavour of research and methodology to the process, procreation is truly a ongoing life sciences experiment.
It is no secret that those born on Mars suffer unique challenges. Anecdotally, people label them as unmotivated or even ‘disgruntled’. However, there is increasing evidence that the Martian-born are prone to specific disorders. Studies in Marineris found, they are 70% more likely to be diagnosed and treated for anxiety and depression. Though there are no published statistics for Huacheng, it is not unreasonable to assume similar proportions. Hou was clearly suffering and he is not alone.
Raedale Nash, top MAFL scorer and youngest player in the league, has had to face his demons publicly. After multiple incidents on and off the field, he’s actively in treatment. Additionally, he has opted-in to perpetual monitoring by psych-bot and club trainers, who can intervene.
As much as sports has been a positive outlet for the new generation, it has also amplified the less positive qualities that are intrinsic to all of us. It is easy to point fingers at the MAFL or at the very science that has allowed us to exist so far from our home world, but this is, indeed how we live, and sadly how we sometimes die.
Dong Ji’s manager, Rain Chen made this statement: “This is a very sad and difficult time, but we will play on. Martians have to be resilient."
Indeed, it is at times like this that we, as colonists, are tested and reminded of the importance of resilience.