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Damar Hamlin injury generates worry among student athletes

Jan 17, 2023

Jan 2 was an unprecedented day in the world of football. A highly anticipated Monday Night Football matchup between the 12-3 Buffalo Bills and the 11-4 Cincinnati Bengals ended in the worst possible way as second year Bills safety Damar Hamlin collapsed after a hit on Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins nine minutes into the game. 

Hamlin was able to get up by himself after the hit, but then immediately fell over. He suffered from cardiac arrest on the field, and CPR was required by the medical professionals on the sideline. Hamlin was rushed to the UC Medical Center as soon as they were able to restore his heartbeat. Five days later, he was able to personally address the situation.

“Putting love into the world comes back 3xs as much… thankful for everyone who has reached out and prayed. This will make me stronger on the road to recovery, keep praying for me,” Hamlin said on Twitter.

The thing that made Hamlin’s injury the strangest was that it occurred during a play that seemed nothing out of the ordinary. Hamlin made a football move – there was nothing dirty or intentional from him or receiver Tee Higgins that made the play malicious. Both players made a football play, and that same play (not the result) will happen thousands of times in the future.

The most impressive part of how the league dealt with Hamlin right after he collapsed was the medical treatment he received. Medical professionals immediately rushed to the field and took necessary measures to keep him alive. In a situation like this, every second matters, and the result could have been completely different if those medical professionals came a minute, even 30 seconds later.

“It was a really tragic play, but it was cool seeing a lot of people unite and come together after the injury,” said Jai Kalvik, senior, one of the captains on the football team. “I think we’ll see much better preparation in the event of an injury like that, and I think it will be better for the sport in the future.”

So now the question is: what changes will be made in medical personnel near the field, rink, or court during high school sporting events following the Damar Hamlin injury? As ominous as the situation seems, there is a world where high school students suffer a cardiac arrest in the middle of their game or meet.

Participation in youth football has already been declining in the past decade. According to, boys ages 6-18 playing football has dropped by 600,000 from 2008 to 2019. After the lasting image of the Hamlin incident, this decline will likely continue at a more rapid rate.

While the likelihood of an injury along the lines of Hamlin’s is low, it is still possible, and the sheer possibility is enough to fill the sidelines of high school sporting events with people trained in CPR. Considering that a life could be saved, finding people with more medical experience is absolutely necessary.

The Bills practiced with a heavy heart all week leading up to their rivalry matchup with the New England Patriots. It was difficult for them to put all their focus on football when their fallen teammate was fighting for his life in the hospital. The Bills got in the right headspace when their running back and return specialist Nyheim Hines took the opening kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown en route to a 35-24 victory – a storybook ending to their regular season. 

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