Lessons for Altamont in the Damar Hamlin Story

John-Nathan Rosborough

John-Nathan Rosborough

Tuesday, February 7, 2023
Lessons for Altamont in the Damar Hamlin Story

Players huddle in front of a quiet crowd at Paycom Stadium as emergency responders tend to Damar Hamlin. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Altamont may not be known for our football team (or lack thereof), but the story of Damar Hamlin can still be helpful to our school community.  

Damar Hamlin is a 24-year-old football player who played college ball at The University of Pittsburgh. He was a team captain in college, which means that fifty other players saw him as not only a good player but someone who was invaluable to the team in other ways. He was seen as a leader who was respected, a leader whom everyone listened to when he spoke. He also did a lot of work for his city as he visited hospitals and more. Hamlin would be drafted in the sixth of seven rounds in the 2021 NFL draft by the Buffalo Bills. The safety would emerge as a key playmaker in his second season, leading the team with more than 70 tackles. 

But everything would change when he made a seemingly routine tackle last month. After the play, Hamlin collapsed back onto the field and went into cardiac arrest. His life was saved by the heroic efforts of the experts who quickly delivered CPR and other care. He was transported to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center and put in the ICU. Hamlin would be in a total of two hospitals over nine days as he was transferred to a hospital in Buffalo before being released. While Hamlin has a long road to recovery, he still has a good chance of complete recovery, which is the best possible outcome.

The shock of a player almost losing his life caused quite a stir among the players in the NFL, as many would show signs of support for their friend, teammate, and brother. Hamlin's near-death experience would also help his charity, as his Christmas toy drive has now surpassed $8.5 million in contributions as fans, teams, and players look to show support.

This story needs to be shared as the values of supporting others, showing love, and a sense of community can all be applied to the Altamont School. The response people showed was heartwarming, as love and support poured in from players, coaches, fans, and people not even affiliated with the sport. 

Historically, when major injuries happen sports, the story runs for a week or two (at most) before it is cast aside for a story that is seen as fresher and will get more views. Horrific injuries in sports have been normalized, especially in football. One of the worst injuries in recent memory was during the 2017 season when Linebacker Ryan Shazier of the Pittsburgh Steelers made a tackle leading with his head that left him a paraplegic, coincidentally on the same field where Damar Hamlin was injured. Within a month, ESPN's SportCcenter was showing big hits from the rematch of game he was injured in.

But the support for Damar Hamlin has been different. Not only is the NFL acknowledging the situation and not trying to hide it, but shirts have also been made and are being worn across the league and worldwide. As the whole world watched to see if Damar would survive, it showed how the integrity of people can be harnessed through good leadership along with respect for one another. These balanced of values show how altruistic humans can be and how much humans can accomplish when they work together. If we all work together like that at Altamont, the sky is the limit. Not only can we improve the culture of the school and spread true school spirit, but if students consciously apply themselves toward being more caring and kind, like Damar Hamlin and his supporters, they can make teachers' jobs less stressful and make our school community a better place to be.  

To share your thoughts on this or anything else you've see in The Acta Diurna, to suggest story ideas, or to become a contributor, email TheActaDiurna@altamontschool.org.