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“On the evening of January 2, 2023, Buffalo Bills’ safety Damar Hamlin collapsed on a cold football field in Cincinnati, Ohio. Hamlin survived the medical emergency because of quick attention provided by Bills’ assistant trainer, Denny Kellington, and during ambulatory transport to the hospital by Cincinnati area paramedics (Carroll, 2023). NFL assistant trainers make around $45k per year (Arnold, 2023), whereas the average salary for paramedics in the Cincinnati area is also $45k per year (Salary, 2022). Hamlin, an average football player, is in his second season of a 4-year contract worth $3.64 million, which comes out to just under $1 million per year and therefore over $50k per game (Spotrac, 2023). Hamlin’s cardiac arrest became world news and was instantly the most important story in sports, something that occurs in the United States ever 40 seconds (CDC, 2022).
Celebrities, like Hamlin, are treated as mythical archetypes and their stories provide a reflection on the human experience (Grazian, 2017). Hamlin’s celebrity status allowed for his story to be shared throughout the world, along with his strength, inspiration, awareness for heart disease, and the coming together of humans, something never achievable by an average person affected by similar circumstances. As horrific and tragic of an event it was, how does it differ from the hundreds of thousands like it per year, and why does our society allow for those saving a celebrity’s life to make less in a year than the celebrity makes in a single football game? The functionalist perspective involving the universality of heart disease and sports answers this question (2017). Nearly everyone knows somebody affected by heart disease, which may intersect with being a Bills’ fan or having a love for sports. Sports stories like this are framed as life lessons and an overarching desire for work and perseverance (2017), which is why the Bills fanbase seemed to balloon following the tragedy. The salary difference is directly related to this as well. Celebrities and sports athletes produce billions of dollars off regular citizens looking to reflect on the human condition by binging the new Netflix series or watching the playoff football game.”
Arnold. (2023). Denny Kellington salary 2023: How much did Bill’s assistant athletic trainer make? Sports news. https://www.sportskeeda.com/nfl/denny-kellington-salary-2023-how-much-buffalo-bills-assistant-athletic-trainer-make
Carroll, R. (2023). Bills praise ‘hero’ trainer who administered CPR to Hamlin. Reuters. https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/bills-praise-hero-trainer-who-administered-cpr-hamlin-2023-01-06/
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022). Heart disease facts. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/facts.htm
Grazian, D. (2017). Mix it Up: Popular Culture, Mass Media, and Society, 2nd edition. W.W. Norton.
Salary. (2022). Paramedic salary in Cincinnati, OH. Salary.com. https://www.salary.com/research/salary/benchmark/paramedic-salary/cincinnati-oh
Spotrac. (2023). Damar Hamlin. Spotrac.com. https://www.spotrac.com/nfl/buffalo-bills/damar-hamlin-72596/
Reply to following post “On the evening of January 2, 2023, Buffalo Bills’ safet
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