Aside from pure ability and talent, nutrition and diet are extremely important for athletes in all sports. Just ask the marathon runner, who will ingest several hundred grams of carbs and protein over the stretch of a race. So, conventional wisdom (and piles of scientific research) agree that with holding food and fluids has a negative impact on performance. The vehicle in athletic performance requires fuel to operate. Period.
In the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, in which the first verses of the Qur’an are said to have been revealed to the Prophet Muhammad, participating Muslims refrain from drinking, eating and sexual activities from dawn until sunset. Fasting is intended to teach Muslims the virtues of patience, humility and spirituality, and is carried out as an offering to God.
For many Muslim athletes, the Ramadan holy period holds special meaning, but also provides additional challenges with regards to performance. Practice schedules and fasting during daylight hours often conflict, leaving the person vulnerable to less than peak ability. During the hot summer months where fluid depletion comes too easily, the fasting athlete must be monitored very closely. Now, long term effects of fasting during the day are essentially unknown and once sunset comes, Muslims break their fast for food and spiritual fellowship with their families.
The Dearborn Public School district, with just over 18,00 students, has a very high number of Muslim students throughout the district. The high school athletes that observe the Ramadan holy period will certainly be faced with the additional challenge. Tom Markowski, sports writer for the Detroit News, offered a rather poignant and fitting article about the football players at Fordson High. Mick McCabe, sports writer for the Detroit Free Press followed up with an article too.
The head coach, Fouad (Walker) Zaban is as fine a person one could meet and his influence on the young people in his program and at Fordson is outstanding.