Recent news and movies like “Concussion” have sparked the conversation once again about the correlation between football and degenerative brain disorders late in life. There are already plenty of studies regarding the risks of repeated head trauma during football, that have years of data to back them up, with no regulations changed. The NFL has been pushing the subject under the rug for years, in order to keep players on rosters. When it comes down to it, the players are the people at risk. But does that mean that the league should continue to let players play even if that means possibly permanent brain damage or death?
If football players start playing tackle football in middle school, it’s likely that by the end of their high school career they will have already suffered from at least one concussion. Not to mention how many they will have suffered from if they go on to play in college, or the pros. Football is linked directly to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) and other degenerative brain disorders. 100’s of former NFL players have spent their lives suffering from these brain disorders and have accused the NFL of hiding these dangers from the players and their families for decades.
Last year, the NFL acknowledged in the midst of hundreds of lawsuits from past players and their families, that there is certainly a link between football and degenerative brain disease. By finally recognizing the problem at hand, this could lead to change of policies in the NFL and college and youth programs. According to the NY Times, The N.F.L. has spent millions of dollars in efforts to tamp down fear among parents over football’s physical toll. It has directed millions of dollars to research C.T.E. and head trauma.
In their admission, the NFL has agreed to pay a settlement to all of the claims of C.T.E. prior to the year 2015. This could possibly portray that in the coming years, former players that suffer from degenerative brain diseases after their careers will be considered “aware of the risks that football can lead to degenerative brain diseases”, meaning that the NFL can’t be held liable for their injuries.
This will leave the discussion up to the players and their families to decide if their brain health is worth the hefty paycheck that the NFL provides. Unfortunately, most of the time the answer will be yes. One of the saving graces for the football community is the regulations that they have put into place regarding college and youth programs. College football players are supposed to be sat out of a few games if they have suffered from a concussion, as well as youth players. Could this change the way that American’s view one of their favorite past times?