Watching Monday Night Football last night, we saw a bright young man of 24-years old gets pounded in the chest while making a tackle go into cardiac arrest. Prime time television! What was more sobering is the collective response at the scene. Imagine a near-murder at your party, and this was one at one of America’s largest type.
I want to just say that this is trauma. It’s definitely for Damar Hamlin, his family, his friends and acquaintances, his teammates, and the people in the organizations affected by his injury during the game. It’s for sure trauma for the audience at the game, having to see it happen that way, having to see the (seemingly excellent) paramedic and medical staff at the game taking care of their business. It’s trauma for the press members covering the game. It’s trauma for the audience at home. Nobody wanted to see this.
So it’s not really about softening of hits or anything. It’s about realizing it takes strength to actually “get smart” about realizing NFL is a time bomb or Russian roulette of injury. I still remember Ryan Shazier, who had his spine contused during also a MNF game in 2017. Thankfully he recovered and was able to live somewhat normally a few years later. Sure he didn’t need CPR, but it occurred to me as strange that the 2017 game still played on 15 minutes later as if things are OK? That’s kind of messed up! The dude just got carted off without any ability to move his lower body. Is football worth this kind of injury?
Hopefully Damar Hamlin will pull through and make a full recovery. But what if he makes a partial one? Is the NFL just going to sweep this yet another negative externality under the table like it did with all the CTE stuff? How about the rest of American society who was traumatized by this? Will we forget and not demand the NFL to do more?
How about, let’s first recognize the trauma? While I was researching on the life of a dead 26-year-old seiyuu a couple weeks ago I realized it’s precisely the same mechanism that we can really truly live and remember, and honor those who paid the price. That mechanism is to research, to rigorously recall and remember, and retell, how these people lived. It might be triggering at times, but it’s also therapeutic.