Damar Hamlin and the Hard Truths About Football

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Damar Hamlin before a game against the Cleveland Browns in November.Credit…Lon Horwedel/USA Today Sports, via Reuters

To the Editor:

Re “A Nightmare That Unfolded in Prime Time” (front page, Jan. 4):

Professional football has never been more popular, but the devastating injury to Damar Hamlin — not to mention the concussions suffered by numerous other players this season — raises this question: Why do we tolerate football?

Are we really so callous that we think it is fine for men to play an inherently brutal “game” that will lead to crippling injuries for many, and death for some? If we do, have we really advanced civilization since the Romans cheered the gladiators?

(I write as a recovering pro football fan who still relapses now and then.)

Jonathan J. Margolis
Brookline, Mass.

To the Editor:

To those of us who watch and enjoy football and all the spectacles surrounding it, the injury to Damar Hamlin brings some hard truths into focus.

The football business is huge. An N.F.L. game brings major dollars and jobs to the cities that host games and opportunities to the rare players, coaches and staff who make it to the elite levels of college football and the pros. We are not going to ban the game.

But we don’t need the expanded schedules, which have gone from 14 to 16 and now 17 games. We don’t need the expanded playoffs, which give some mediocre teams an extra weekend or two before they go home.

Amazon would survive the loss of Thursday Night Football, and so would the viewers. A player who has survived a Sunday game needs more than three days to recover before subjecting himself to the same jarring violence all over again.

The sports gambling industry has brought a whole new intensity to the fans but helps dehumanize the players who are the subjects of the bets. Please make it illegal again.

Yes, players make millions, but that doesn’t substitute for the risks of life and limb that their short careers and long post-football lives will need to thrive. Keep football, but give some thoughts to the players who make it all work.

Elliott Miller
Bala Cynwyd, Pa.

To the Editor:

It is a sad and a momentously singular moment of despair that affected everyone who saw or heard about Damar Hamlin collapsing to the ground.

The outpouring of concern, heartbreak, tears, compassion and hope were immediate. Opposing sides hugged and wept; those in charge halted the battle without resumption or rescheduling.

Sympathy and consolation abounded. No one wanted to go on; not the soldiers, the captains or the generals.

A type of truce over the devastating injury to one player.

Wouldn’t that be remarkably good in another kind of battlefield?

Peter R. Cohn

Keep Supporting Charities, ‘the Bedrock of American Society’

Credit…Illustration by The New York Times; images by CSA Images/Getty Images

To the Editor:

Re “Before You Give to Charity, Some Thorny Questions to Weigh,” by Peter Coy (Opinion, Dec. 28):

While, as Mr. Coy notes, philanthropy is shaped by the priorities of the ultrarich, that doesn’t mean that Americans have stopped giving or that nonprofits aren’t more vital than ever.

Nonprofits touch every aspect of our lives as enterprises advancing social good. They are on the front lines of combating poverty, advocating social justice and criminal justice reform, and carrying out innovations to combat climate change.

At the University of San Diego’s Nonprofit Institute, our polling of locals finds that donating and volunteering remained relatively steady until the pandemic upended both and that the public trusts nonprofits to act on their behalf and promote positive social change to a far greater extent than government and corporations.

Charities are the bedrock of American society. More than ever, they deserve our generosity.

Emily Young
San Diego
The writer is the executive director at the Nonprofit Institute at the University of San Diego.

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