How the Damar Hamlin Injury Made Me Feel About How We View Athletes
I wanted to write this piece yesterday but I needed a bit more time to allow my thoughts to settle and be able to actually put something in writing that made some kind of sense.
As I sit to write it now, I have to say that I am not much clearer about it than I was 24 hours ago but it needs to be done and it needs to be said.
I will preface everything I have to say in this piece by saying that I do not know Damar Hamlin or anyone in association to the Buffalo Bills and I am not going to pretend that my feelings about what occured on Monday Night football are anywhere close to comparable to what any of those men and women are dealing with.
My deepest thoughts, prayers and sympathies go out to all of those brave people, and most of all, Damar Hamlin.
If you want to read more about Hamlin and his current status, you can do that HERE.
Here is also a very informative video from a medical professional explaining briefly and concisely what happened to Hamlin.
This was very informative and sheds light on how rare what we witnessed last night was, from a medical perspective.
An informative 2 minute watch🤝
— Sweatpants Jesus (@Sweatpantsjesus) January 3, 2023
This is about More Than Sports
I am writing this as a member of the sports media world and at the end of the day, a fan. And I was devastated by what I witnessed.
I have consumed thousands of hours of sports throughout my life, whether it be for my job or for the love of the game.
I also was an athlete from the moment I could walk, and played in hundreds of competitive games throughout my childhood into my early 20’s.
While I never had the desire to commit my life to be a professional athlete, I know the commitment it takes to pursue that dream and to turn it into a reality.
Watching Damar Hamlin fight for his life on National Television in front of millions, while his brothers and coaches watched on, helpless, was a traumatizing reminder that life is fragile and should never be taken for granted.
We often forget that these men and women that we watch play the games we love, while astronomically talented and sometimes otherworldly in their ability, are human.
The way we consume sports media nowadays has given us much more access to the behind the scenes life of our favorite athletes, if nothing else to remind us that they are in some ways no different than you or me.
Watching Damar Hamlin receive CPR on the field in Cincinnati on Monday Night Football was the type of reminder that I don’t think anyone ever wanted to have.
We have been, in a way, desensitized to the connection to the ‘men in the arena.’
How We View Athletes Needs to Shift
We put them in our fantasy teams, we crunch the numbers on whether or not they will go over their rushing yards or the amount of rebounds they will grab.
And then when we watch them, our feelings towards that athlete is totally dependant upon whether or not they achieve those goals…for us.
Obviously I am coming at this from a betting angle, as that is what I spend most of my time covering, and I have fallen victim to that behavior numerous times.
Trust me, I am no saint.
I find the value in a player to crush his points line in a great matchup, I sit down to watch the game and he has a bad shooting night and I lose my bet.
I know you have had the same experience and there is that tiny feeling inside of you that is ‘upset’ with that athlete. And I say ‘upset’ in quotations because I know that word is probably on the lighter end of the spectrum.
With sports betting and fantasy sports becoming a massive part of the viewing experience, if you invest monetarily in the game or a particular athlete, you become automatically more invested emotionally as well.
That investment can lead to either feelings of jubilation or dispair, depending upon the outcome.
And there is nothing wrong with that. Hell, that is the reason I have a job and love what I do.
I love finding value and betting on sports for that very reason; The added emotional rollercoaster it gives to the games I already love to watch.
But that feeling should never affect how you feel about a particular athlete, from a human perspective.
Some bets hit, some bets miss.
That is the way of the sports betting world but never forget that the man or woman you are betting on is just that.
A human being.
A Meaningful Takeaway
As time passes and we find out the hopefully continuing good news about the recovery of Hamlin, I hope that this event is a reminder that sticks with you as a fan and a sports bettor.
These athletes put their lives on the line to live out their dreams and to entertain us.
Sports will always and forever be my favorite form of live entertainment and I value it more and more with each passing day.
What happened on January 2nd, 2023 on Monday Night Football will stick with me forever and I will always try to reference that feeling when I lose a bet.
Never forget the humanity. Never forget the value of life. And never let your emotions about your bets or your favorite sport overshadow those things.
I’ll close with my deepest thoughts, prayers and good vibes to Damar Hamlin, his family, the Buffalo Bills, and all the medical professionals who are/were responsible for his well-being.
If you want to show support for Hamlin, you can donate to his foundation via the link HERE
Otherwise, your thoughts and prayers will suffice.
Life is beautiful. Cherish it. In all you do.