Fasting on the Field

Lexy Panjsheeri

White lips, dry mouth, loud stomach, heavy breathing, and a persistent thought of giving up. This feels like it can last for an eternity; Muslim athletes all over the world are facing these challenges while fasting during Ramadan. 

Last month ended the month-long Muslim holiday of Ramadan, where from sunrise to sunset, those participating, including some Patriot athletes, were not allowed to eat or drink.

Professional athletes like Kyrie Irving, Mo Salah, and Sadio Mane are well known for fasting during their games. These are just some of the mainstream athletes who fast, and thousands of student athletes are also dealing with this. 

Student Athletes 

Even though fasting is an obligation in the Islamic Faith, some may choose not to fast during their sports season. Arwa Ibrahim (‘25) a girls lacrosse player at Patriot High School made the decision to fast during her season.

I wanted to fast during my sport this year because I sort of wanted to challenge myself and push to my limit,” Ibrahim said. “Also, a main reason that I wanted to fast is just because I don’t want to remake the days, I missed at the end of the season…I just like pushing myself to see what I can do.”

Ibrahim brought up a good point about remaking days missed. In Islam you have to remake the days that you did not fast, and those who can’t fast are ones with diseases, women on their menstrual cycle, pregnant women, old age, and children who haven’t reached puberty. However, if a fast is missed due to an unexcused reason, they can either fast for 60 consecutive days or feed 60 poor people once Ramadan ends. With practices and games being almost everyday, Muslim athletes tend to make the decision to just fast during these events, so it can limit the amount of days needed to make up. 

Professional Athletes

Being a professional athlete and balancing Ramadan at the same time can be exhausting and overwhelming. Some National leagues with a larger amount of Muslim players have changed their training schedule to help these players. For example, Liverpool’s coach Jurgen Klopp changed his teams training to be in the morning, so it can be easier for fasten players like stars Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah. 

NBA’s Brooklyn Nets Kyrie Irving has been very popular in the media this month for his participation in Ramadan during the 2022 playoffs. 

Irving has gone out to say; “I am not alone in this, I have brothers and sisters all around the world that are fasting with me.”

 He’s not the first NBA player to fast, NBA Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon has fasted throughout his career. He had an incredible season during the month of Ramadan and says his performance only improved. 

My Experience 

I get asked everyday in practice “How are you not dying?” I’m no professional, and I do find myself going through similar struggles as these athletes. The hardest part would be pushing myself during the hardest parts of practice and to find motivation. I constantly remind myself that it is for the love of my sport and religion that I do this. 

With my experience, I’ve learned to educate my teammates and others on the misconceptions and what to say to help their friend or teammate to feel more comfortable and welcomed. 

So, to all my fellow teammates, not even water.