Humanity is a team effort

Buffalo Bills player Damar Hamline was transferred to Buffalo General last week to continue his recovery after suffering a heart attack during Monday Night Football on Jan. 2. He was discharged on Monday.
Buffalo Bills player Damar Hamline was transferred to Buffalo General last week to continue his recovery after going into cardiac arrest during Monday Night Football on Jan. 2. He was discharged on Monday.

Monday Night Football viewers were no doubt shocked on Jan. 2, when Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin collapsed on the field, unresponsive. The game went on hold as paramedics rushed to the field to treat Hamlin, who had gone into cardiac arrest.

Football players are no strangers to injury—it is a full contact sport after all. The usual response to injuries such as dislocated arms, twisted ankles, etc. is “the game must go on.” However, cardiac arrest prompted a different response, and as paramedics administered CPR before carrying Hamlin off the field, both the Bills and the Cincinnati Bengals agreed to put the game on hold. They agreed the need to save a life was more important than competition, more important than pressing the advantage against a team who was down a man.

The game was suspended with 5:58 minutes left in the first quarter. The NFL officially postponed the contest about an hour later, shortly after 10 p.m. ET. Hamlin was rushed to hospital where he was intubated, and his vitals stabilized later that same night. Over the course of the next week, the athlete remained in hospital to recover, until he was discharged on Jan. 9.

Often the competitive nature of sports glosses over its toll on the human body. Fans gripe when their favorite players take time to heal, fretting over how an injury will dull their teams’ edge in upcoming games. It comes with the territory—fans care about their teams and want to see them succeed.

A different attitude prevailed on Jan. 2. Perhaps due to the severe nature of Damar Hamlin’s condition, everyone rallied to cheer him on for his struggle to survive. According to a press release from the Buffalo Bills, around 250,000 individuals reached out over night with donations for a charity toy drive Hamlin had set up back in 2020.

Seeing this outpouring, the athlete’s family decided to reorganize his toy drive into a fulltime community fund, called “The Chasing M’s Foundation Charity Fund.” All donations will be allocated according to Hamlin’s wishes to give back to his fans and their communities.

The tragedy Damar Hamlin suffered was transformed by fans’ charity and compassion into an opportunity for everyone to play on the same team: humanity. According to his team, the first thing the athlete asked after he regained consciousness was: “did we win?”

The answer is yes. We all won.

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