Cultural Conversations by Daniel Blackaby January 5, 2023
Sports World Turns to Faith and Prayer Following Scary Damar Hamlin Incident
On January 2, 2023, an NFL game between the Super Bowl-contending Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals was the focal point of the sports world, but not for reasons anyone expected. Partway through the first quarter, Buffalo Bills’ safety, 24-year-old Damar Hamlin, experienced cardiac arrest and collapsed mid-field. He was given CPR and rushed to the hospital in critical condition as teammates, fans, and viewers watched in disbelief.
Immediately, support poured out from all corners of the sporting world and beyond. The hashtag #prayforhamlin started trending on social media as fellow athletes and sports fans across the world united in solidarity. The Buffalo Bills team gathered on the field to kneel and pray for their teammate.
The serious incident also inspired Christians in the industry to showcase their faith publicly. ESPN analyst Dan Orlovsky went viral for speaking not only about the need for prayer but for praying for Hamlin live on-air.
In his team’s first game following the incident, fellow Buffalo athlete NHL star Tage Thompson turned in an emotionally charged performance of a lifetime and was quick to point toward his steadfast faith in God.
In recent years, the intersection of Christianity and sports has often become a divisive topic, with some people objecting to various faith-based practices, such as teams kneeling to pray before or after a game. Nevertheless, when tragedy strikes and a young athlete’s life hangs in the balance, people of all religious or non-religious backgrounds are driven to prayer and divine hope.
Sports matter, but incidents such as this one remind everyone that some things are far more important than sports. As Damar Hamlin continues his miraculous journey to recovery, the outpouring of faith, prayer, and support are a powerful reminder of where true hope, peace, and healing are found.