Athletics’ safety highlighted after near-fatal football accident

Damar Hamlin’s cardiac arrest incident sparks a conversation about high school sports safety


Mason Thompson

Safety measures are taken in a multitude of sports.

Damar Hamlin is a safety for the Buffalo Bills. On Jan. 2, 2023 Hamlin went into cardiac arrest after a “seemingly routine tackle” by Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins.

Different reasons for the cardiac arrest incident have circulated around the internet. 

Even so, this accident has brought attention to how high schools handle sports safety.  

Athletic director, Chad Eisentrager said that the incident reminded “coaches [to] make sure [they’re] up to date on [their] AED and [their] CPR and [that] they know the steps.” Those are the main reminders brought about from the accident. 

The athletics department had varying reactions when they saw what happened to Hamlin. “I happened to be watching the game when it happened and so when we first went round it was kind of odd,” said boys wrestling coach Ty Tatham. 

The incident made boys basketball coach Darin Reese take a “step back and realize how fortunate we are to be playing these sports.” 

In regards to the sports accident, Eisentrager said, it was “heartbreaking… You never want to see someone doing I mean, I’ve just been in the game. It’s a profession for them, but it’s still a game. And, you just know [on] Monday Night Football you’ve got millions of people watching this, and the reaction is you feel awful for his family. You feel awful for his teammates.”

According to Mead’s athletic staff, sports safety hasn’t changed due to the Damar Hamlin incident. “Athletics safety didn’t change due to the accident for basketball or in general… [M]y number one priorities [have always been] guys health and safety” said Reese.

Eisentrager also said, “In terms of what we do, [sports safety] hasn’t really [changed]. Mainly because we have the protocols in place… where Taylor travels with an AED [(automated external defibrillator), and] cardiologists are training for the high school.” 

Football Coach Jason Klatt said that one of the biggest ways to keep the football players safe on the field is by everyone having pads and proper technique when tackling, and never leading with their head when tackling.