What the new MLS rule during Ramadan means to one Sporting KC player

Published: Apr. 11, 2023 at 6:57 PM CDT
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - Sporting KC goalkeeper John Pulskamp takes the field during the holy month of Ramadan without having had anything to eat or drink since before the sun came up that morning.

“It definitely creates some challenges, but that’s kind of the whole point,” Pulskamp said. “It’s about overcoming challenges and having that self-discipline and the resilience to overcome those challenges. That’s why we do it, is to practice that.”

He’s one of many players across the league observing Ramadan from March 22 to April 20.

“We eat and drink obviously as much as you can that early in the morning, and then you just have the self-discipline throughout the day, " Pulskamp said. “Once the sun goes down, same thing; just being really, really smart about what you’re putting in your body. Making sure that you’re not filling up with any empty calories. Because you don’t get to eat that much, so whatever you do consume has to be really effective. So, just making sure I’m getting all the nutrients that I need when I can eat.”

As darkness falls on stadiums across the league this season, you’ll hear an extra whistle signaling an additional stoppage period for players to break their fast.

It’s a stark change from previous years, when players were expected to wait until halftime.

“I love it,” Pulskamp said. “Any time that inclusiveness includes your group of people. It’s a good feeling to know that it’s recognized and the league is willing to do that, because not all leagues in the world have extended that kind of arm of support. I’m very proud of the MLS and very proud to play in the MLS for that reason.”