Damar Hamlin: The Person (And Athlete) You Should Have Known A Long Time Ago
Tragedy sells, good news will one day. Exploring humanity's strange dynamics with sports, the fragility of athletics, and the future we should strive for.
Damar Hamlin is one of the NFL’s most well-rounded and generous people.
But why are you only now hearing about him after his injury?
Where has society gone wrong that it takes bad news to learn about the good someone is doing?
Let’s Dive In 👇
How We Got Here
At 8:00pm on January 2nd, very few people knew the Buffalo Bills’ starting safety, Damar Hamlin.
1 hour later, everyone knew who Damar Hamlin was (but not for an ideal reason).
We all felt something from the moment. We watched the TV, refreshed Twitter for updates, and said a prayer.
And the emotional pull resulted in:
Damar Hamlin’s charity going from $2,500 to over $5.8M in just 24 hours.
Damar Hamlin’s Twitter followers going from 20k to over 240,000 in 1 day.
The merging of evolutionary tendencies with futuristic technology has created some strange dynamics in society.
Why is a tragedy what it takes to bring light to Hamlin’s efforts in the community?
Why is an injury what it takes to follow and support an athlete on social media?
We humans can be very divisive but we’re also very much in tune with each other. 99% of us are good at heart, I truly believe that.
It’s the mainstream media (and the fact bad news sells eyeballs) that divide us apart.
The Man In The Arena
Sports are the greatest platform humans have ever assembled.
But the reality — is that a fan’s entertainment is a player’s risk.
Former NFL player Ryan Clark said it best:
Life becomes so much more than football, basketball, or whatever the sport is.
But it never feels that way, until it does…
Even with social media, fans are getting farther and farther away from actually knowing athletes.
As their platforms, wealth, and influence continue to grow it becomes a lonely journey.
Athletes are viewed more like an asset:
owners - the valuation of their team
coaches - their job to win games
fans - fantasy team player
friends - a money source
media - clickbait headlines
agent - paycheck and transaction
businesspeople - a walking ATM
Everyone wants the athlete, but do they really care for them?
Controversy and Tragedy Sells
We love the underdog, the comeback kid, and unfortunately also the downfall.
But even that has a twist to it…
We recall very few athletes for their talent — but a lot for their story, personality, and drama-filled moments.
Do you remember Evander Holyfield for his 44 wins or for getting his ear bitten off by Mike Tyson?
Do you remember Pete Rose for his baseball talent or for betting on games?
Do you remember Dennis Rodman for his elite rebounding or for his off-the-court antics?
The list goes on and on…
Think of any athlete, is it their talent or a story around them that you’ve attached to?
It certainly raises the question…
Why is an athlete’s lowest point often the highest point for their brand?
Every football fan will forever remember Damar Hamlin — which unfortunately was not the case before his injury.
Humans operate on emotion more than many of us realize.
This is why the next time a big injury takes place, your brain will instantly race to the visualization of Hamlin falling backward and his teammates visually upset on the field.
You felt something, and the good in you (your true human nature) told you to help out.
Maybe you even donated some money as a way to support him.
It’s time we use sports for more good, not just sometimes (or when a tragedy strikes).
Damar Hamlin’s Track Record
Damar Hamlin has been doing good for many years now.
after football and school, he would help his mom with her business
he chose the University of Pittsburgh so he could play in front of his family and continue making an impact in the community he called home
And Jordon Rooney, his business partner, has been a crucial part of helping extend that positive impact to even more people.
In college, long before his NFL paychecks, the duo hosted youth football showcases and set up the charity that recently received millions in donations.
It was a 6-year process — that took a terrible event for them to get the support they should have gotten years ago.
The thing is…
Good news doesn’t sell — which is why you never even knew Damar Hamlin had a charity that has helped thousands of young kids before Monday night.
But don’t you think we should have known that?
The World Needs More Damar Hamlin’s
Athletes are some of the best people on this planet.
Not only are they physically elite, mentally strong, and now business savvy…they also give back to the community in ways much more powerful than our own governments do.
The world needs sports. The community needs sports.
We don’t just need athletes like Damar Hamlin, but people like Damar Hamlin.
By supporting athletes with initiatives outside of sports — you’re actually supporting people like yourself.
Thousands of underprivileged kids are now going to get help because of Damar Hamlin’s charity.
As I said, we’re all connected as a human species, and deep down we know there’s something much greater at play.
Which is why there was no issue with prayer after Damar’s injury (despite the fact coaches around the country have gotten fired for praying on the field with their players).
Not one fan, viewer, coach, or teammate thought about Damar Hamlin’s religious beliefs or skin color at any point during this.
We cared for (and continue to care about) Damar Hamlin’s health and well-being.
We care for him as a person — not a player, fantasy pick, or asset.
Hypocrisy, double standards, and negativity are rampant in our society these days.
But sports create a platform for positivity, comradery, and human connection — it’s time we start using it a bit better (and more often).
I write, talk, build, and invest in the future of sports — I know I’m making an impact every day however small it may be.
Thanks to the platform I’ve built, a few things have continued to become more important to me:
changing how we view athletes
aligning with like-minded people
and making a positive impact through sports (which touches all of humanity)
My prayers continue to go toward Damar Hamlin, his family, and a speedy recovery.
It’s a shame that one of the worst injuries in NFL history is what it took for everyone to become familiar with Damar Hamlin.
He’s a fantastic young man, entrepreneur, philanthropist, and role model for many young kids across Pittsburgh.
What other players are making an impact like Damar Hamlin that you aren’t paying attention to?
I’ll continue to spotlight them with my platform, but I guarantee you that there are a handful of them on your favorite team.
It’s time to stop letting controversy and tragedy sell, but good news.
I appreciate you reading today.
Continued prayers to Damar Hamlin and his family 🙏
An update on Damar’s recovery:
Want to support Damar Hamlin, his family, and initiatives in the community?
Check out his GoFundMe page here:
Great article. Great observation. Another example highlighted in the past weeks for the same reason: J.J. Watt and his lead of the Houston Hurricane Harvey response.
The media and government use their power to divide us. But every day, I go outside away from all that, and I see people of all types smiling and being nice to each other. I saw during Harvey people going into the storm to help those that couldn't escape it, for no other reason than they could and wanted to help.
We really need to break free of the monied media and look to independent journalism and stories. Substack is a great place to find them.
Thanks for pointing that out. Made my day.