A game changing injury


One second, he was running across the field as the crowd roared behind him. The next second, he was on the ground, and the stadium was silent. Damar Hamlin is yet another football player who has sustained major, life-threatening injuries due to the dangerous sport. While his heart may be stable now, his public resuscitation and frightening time on a ventilator has brought attention to the issue regarding the major risks in football. 

“Although everyone loves the sport of football, [health issues] are a big risk,” Jonathon Presmy, senior, said. 

While the Cincinnati Bengals versus Buffalo Bills game on Jan. 2, 2023, started like any other, it ended with their safety’s, Damar Hamlin, sudden collapse. After unexpectedly going into cardiac arrest, players, coaches, and first-aid personnel surrounded Hamlin as one of the trainers, Denny Kellington, performed CPR on him for nine minutes until the paramedics arrived. Hamlin is now, thankfully, out of the hospital and on the way to a full recovery. After the National Football League (NFL) fully cancelled the Jan. 2 game, the Bills commemorated their first game back on the field against the New England Patriots to Hamlin and his strength, miraculously making a touchdown on the very first play and scoring a very emotional win for the team.  

“Even though Damar Hamlin’s injury was a rare one, it now opens eyes to how dangerous the game can be for even the smallest hits,” Justin Davis, senior, said. 

Even though the country is still celebrating Hamlin’s exciting recovery, many people are voicing their concerns about the long-ignored issue about player safety in contact sports. While some argue that every sport is going to have its risks, others emphasize the excessive number of injuries, some of which are life-threatening, that players receive during their athletic careers. Concussions, for instance, have been a part of many huge debates regarding helmet regulations, impact testing, and certain rules that would limit the risk for a head injury. Tragedies such as Hamlin’s collapse occur in nearly every sport each year, but with the entire stadium having watched his resuscitation in horror, they came face-to-face with his possible death from the sport. Knowing that sports injuries can do more than just put a player in an arm cast, many are only becoming more fearful of dangers in contact sports.  

“Yet again, a player’s family and friends are left hoping for the best. Because week after week, game after game, it has become inescapably clear that the NFL is a brutal, violent league that, even in the best of circumstances, inflicts life-altering damage on its players. (…) In the largest study conducted on the subject, 99% of former NFL players showed signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a devastating neurodegenerative disease caused by repeated head trauma,” a THINK article said 

With much of the country still recovering from the possibility of a beloved player’s death, some experts are working to ease people’s minds about sports injuries by pushing to not demonize football entirely. Rather, they are finding ways in which the sport can be reformed in order to try and prevent another case like Hamlin’s from happening again: developing better equipment (like helmets and padding), hiring well-trained medical personnel, changing certain rules, promoting healthy competition culture, increasing player training on how to keep safety in mind while playing, and emphasizing prevention through education.  

“The NFL has been more proactive about changing rules to make the sport safer, particularly with regard to preventing concussions and head injuries. The quarterback, who can often be exposed to a defender he does not see, is better protected thanks to rule changes around roughing the passer (…) The league could make adjustments off the field as well, allowing players more time to recover in between games (…) The NFL could also expand the size of teams’ rosters, which might encourage injured players to stay out until they are fully ready to play again,” an Insider article said. 

The country rejoices with Hamlin’s safe return home from the hospital, but the reason his life was in danger has not been forgotten. People across the nation continue to advocate for better player safety and protection in sports in order to prevent having to watch in horror when another player collapses on the field.