Hamlin injury shows the risks of sports


Photo courtesy of @wshsspartanfootball on Instagram

Every time players step out onto the field, they risk injury. As long as safety measures continue improving – and as long as fans continue respecting the effort players put into becoming the best athletes they can – major incidents can be averted.

The fast-paced, competitive, and unifying nature of sports makes it entertaining for millions to watch. Sometimes, though, it’s easy to forget that serious and even life-threatening injuries can result from this practice, shocking many.

Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin recently went into cardiac arrest during a game against the Cincinnati Bengals. Medical staff resuscitated Hamlin on the field and immediately rushed him to the hospital, where he stayed for a week. The game was canceled shortly after the incident, and many football fans and players supported Hamlin and wished him a speedy recovery.

Fortunately, Hamlin’s condition is said to be improving. He even paid his teammates a visit during the rematch between the Bills and the Bengals a few weeks after the incident.

“I’m really happy for him that he made it through,” said junior and varsity football player Joey Blumberg. 

Still, Hamlin has a long road to recovery ahead of him, as it takes months to fully recover from cardiac arrest. As of now, the question of when he will return to the field remains unanswered.

“I believe that the risks of playing sports like football are taken for granted by many fans, especially on a professional level,” said junior and varsity football player Jacob Kerr. “People who have not experienced playing the sport do not understand the physical [toll] a sport like football takes on an athlete’s body.”

Incidents like Hamlin’s don’t occur often, but it is still one of many cases of injuries that highlights the risks of a sport that is so widely popular. The NFL reported a total of 387 injuries in 2021, of which 187 were concussions and 200 were knee ligament tears. These statistics don’t take into account other common injuries such as strains, fractures, and dislocations, or rarer ones like paralysis and heart conditions. The hundreds of injuries that happen even in the most elite football league are indicative of the risks athletes take when playing.

“I think you take big risks when you’re stepping out on the field for football. Everybody who plays it knows it,” said Blumberg. “It definitely is scary, though, watching these guys when they get seriously hurt because you think about your own games.”

Be it on a professional level or a high school level, the physical demand of sports can make any player more susceptible to injury. For instance, Spartan athletes have had injuries of their own in recent years. Players have had broken bones, ACL tears, and concussions, hindering them from playing for weeks or months.

These injuries, however, don’t mean that athletes aren’t trained well enough to avoid them. Key to preventing injuries in the first place, proper equipment and training are always emphasized by coaches. In the event of an incident, athletic trainers and good medical staff are ready to help as well. 

“In football, we constantly practice correct tackling form that helps prevent concussions and spine injuries. In the off-season, we do specific movements in the weight room, on the field, and in the school gym that help our bodies be prepared for movements that might cause an injury,” said Kerr. “Our school trainers are also phenomenal and are quick to help injured players prevent further injuries and return to play as quickly and safely as possible.”

Hamlin’s condition, though, serves as a reminder that these procedures are not perfect, and serious injuries can still occur. Although continuously trying to improve safety measures in sports doesn’t guarantee complete injury prevention, by doing so, the enjoyment both fans and players get from sports will outweigh the potential consequences.

“Research, make [equipment] more safe, and then just teach proper form in football. Good coaching will lead to [fewer] injuries,” said Blumberg. 

While Hamlin’s injury, unfortunately, won’t be the last one seen in the world of sports, it’s a good reminder that safety procedures can always be improved upon. Just as importantly, it’s good for fans to not take the risks of playing for granted and remember that athletes are not invincible but still take on the chances of injury to pursue and share their passion with their supporters.