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Here's the Dumbest Article About Damar Hamlin's Injury

AP Photo/Jeff Dean

Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin demonstrated the beauty of professional sports. It showed how it draws people together, regardless of politics. Hamlin’s toy drive, which he started in 2020, has collected over $6 million since his scary injury that stopped Monday Night Football on January 2. The entire league and their respective fan bases were united in praying and hoping for Hamlin’s recovery, whose heart stopped during that game.

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Buffalo’s athletic training staff did a remarkable job of administering CPR for at least 10 minutes until an ambulance arrived to take Hamlin, a 2021 pick, to a nearby hospital, where he was checked into the intensive care unit while in critical condition. The game was not rescheduled, with the NFL holding an emergency meeting to ameliorate the disparity regarding games played by both Cincinnati and Buffalo this season. There was talk of eight teams making the playoffs which were quickly nixed. 

Hamlin has made a speedy recovery, with brain functionality unimpacted though his lungs reportedly need more time to heal. There were no memory lapses—he asked the medical staff who won the game when he awakened.

Yet, there’s always that one person who must spoil the moment—and it’s a bipartisan activity though woke progressives are the ones who have more frequently decided to drop a hot take that was both unwarranted and abjectly stupid. The winner of the ‘GTFO’ prize here is Scientific American,whose storyabout this injury featured the headline “Damar Hamlin’s Collapse Highlights the Violence Black Men Experience in Football.” The social media copy was worse:  “The ‘terrifyingly ordinary’ nature of football’s violence disproportionately affects Black men.”

This ordinary violence has always riddled the sport and it affects all players. But Black players are disproportionately affected. While Black men are severely underrepresented in positions of power across football organizations, such as coaching and management, they are overrepresented on the gridiron. Non-white players account for 70 percent of the NFL; nearly half of all Division I college football players are Black. Further, through a process called racial stacking, coaches racially segregate athletes by playing position. These demographic discrepancies place Black athletes at a higher risk during play. 

As a cultural anthropologist, I’ve spent the last decade learning how Black college football players navigate the exploitation, racism, and anti-Blackness that are fundamental to its current system. I know it’s not new to highlight the inherent violence of American football. This sport requires exceptional athletes, who are otherwise ordinary men, to perform extraordinary feats on the field. We liken these men to gladiators and warriors. The leagues, organizations, teams, coaches, spectators, and fans who benefit from their performance expect them to tough it out when they get hurt and applaud them when they play through these injuries. 

Football is a spectacle where excessive violence is mundane, because hits that cause injuries are a constant occurrence, and spectators are desensitized to it. Consumers of the sport assume players will withstand any bodily affront, so they are shocked when a player’s physical limits are exceeded, often on very public stages. People with a vested interest in professional football rationalize excessive violence in this structured space, as well as the ones that encompass college, high school and peewee play, all because they assume that rules, equipment, and regulations exist to prevent death. But this is false protection. While this form of entertainment has been normalized, Hamlin’s injury demonstrates that ordinary violence has potentially deadly consequences, and highlights how Black men’s athletic labor sustains this brutal system.

On these playing fields, ones that sociologist Billy Hawkins would argue are never theoretically far from plantation fields, financial stakeholders value Black bodies for their productive potential and physical prowess. The league encourages and facilitates rigorous training and disciplining so players can execute seemingly impossible corporeal demands, all in the service of entertainment, money-making, and insatiable fandom. In the words of sociologist and activist Harry Edwards, “like a piece of equipment, the black athlete is used.” While I am not aware of research that compares the rate of injury between Black and white football players, heatstrokes, ACL and labrum tears, ankle sprains, bone breaks, and concussions are just a few of the consequences of how these bodies are used.

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Of course, this acid trip ended with a racism lecture. So, the sport would be less violent if there were more black executives in football? Some things don’t mix, and the list is endless: ham and tuna fish sandwiches, ranch and Oreo cookies, left-wing pseudointellectual babblings, and football. Players already have hundreds of plays to memorize and bodies to maintain—they don’t have time for this nonsense, and neither do the fans or the NFL’s front offices. Now, the lack of diversity among black head coaches and executives is a debate; it’s not a new one, but to weave that into this freak medical injury is nutbar factor six, and everyone knows that except people who don’t watch football. Also, there are professional football players who succumb to and endure nasty injuries as well. Hamlin’s emergency was frightening but not a frequent occurrence, so thanks for reminding us that the Left is a bunch of insufferable clowns who can’t, for a second, allow us to come together and be non-political. This op-ed is trash, much like Russell Wilson’s quarterback play this season. 

And enough with the slavery comparisons, please. These players get some good coin to do what they love, and even the practice squad gets solid paychecks, with those having exceptional talent being given generational wealth.

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