Skip to comments.America’s Coming Depression
Posted on 06/17/2012 12:07:19 PM PDT by Zakeet
No, I dont mean an economic depression. I mean an emotional depression. I fear that a funk could hit a significant portion of the population over the next five years. Tens of millions of lives will be affected. There will be substantial economic hardship. Fortunes will be lost. Media empires will be rattled. Some municipalities will face bankruptcy. Universities and colleges across the country will face new funding pressures. The changes that I see coming will reshape a cornerstone of the American way of life.
What could possibly cause this? The answer is that American football is in very, very serious trouble.
2,450 players have now filed 89 concussion related law suits against the NFL and Riddell Athletics (helmet manufacturer) . All of the State cases are being referred to Federal Court.
Im no expert on this topic. I follow (among others) ESPN and NFL Concussion Litigation. I have recently talked with four attorneys (none directly involved all sue for a living). The cut to the chase question for the lawyers was:
Four out of four were quick to answer:
The dark side for American football depends on whether these four attorneys are right.
The suits against the NFL/Riddle are based on the fact that a significant number of players have received permanent brain injuries while playing for the NFL. There are dozens of reports that prove this. A Michigan University study of former players found that:
Alzheimers disease or similar-memory related diseases occur vastly more often than the national population including a rate of 19 times the normal rate for men ages 30-49.
NY Giants ex ace QB, Jeff Hostetler, has filed a suit against the NFL. A review of the court papers (Link paragraphs 47-117) lists the medical conclusions that football is directly linked to permanent brain injury. It's going to be very hard for the NFL to beat this.
That football is dangerous and players might get traumatic brain injuries is old news. The basis of the suits is that the NFL teams, knowing full well the risks that the players were taking, willfully ignored the scientific evidence, and repeatedly put the players at neurological risk.
A critical issue for the teams/players is, "What did the teams do when a player incurred a head injury during play/practice?" As far back as 1999 it was shown that players who received a concussion during practice or a game were 4Xs more likely to receive another concussion in the following 10 days.
The NFL ignored this information. It was not until 2009 that it established rules that required players who exhibited any sign of concussion had to be removed from a game or practice, and be barred from returning the same day. But there are hundreds of documented cases since 2009 where players who received a head injury that produced symptoms of concussion who were returned to the playing field within minutes of the original injury.
The problem that the teams face is that its not possible to diagnose a minor concussion on the field. The league established a practice of identifying a player with a concussion as one who had to be carried off on a stretcher. The lawsuits allege that the teams/NFL knew the facts on concussions, and their documented actions put the players at risk. This is referred to as Willful Misconduct. If the juries agree with this (I think they have to), then the financial awards will go through the roof.
Can the NFL afford these suits? Some say they can, and point to the fact that the 32 teams have a value in excess of $40 billion, and revenues of $20+ Billion a year. I dont think this argument stands up. There are 1,700 active pro players each year. The suits will go back at least ten-years. The evidence is that as many as 60% of all players have suffered multiple concussions during their careers. When a class action settlement is made, thousands of additional players will seek compensation. The individual awards will be in the millions. Based on this, the total damages could easily exceed $20 billion. That would put a very deep hurt on the NFL and the team owners.
An import question for the courts will be Riddell Sports liability. If there is liability on behalf of Riddle, it creates a major problem. Can Riddle (the official provider of helmets for the NFL) continue to make helmets knowing full well that every helmet that goes out the door is a lawsuit to be in the future? I would think not.
Ill come back to the problems with the NFL, but first some thoughts on college, high school and pre-teen football. There has to be some very substantial changes for this group of athletes. The medical evidence is clear. The younger a person receives head injuries, the greater the chance of a lifetime consequences.
When the lawyers finish busting up the NFL, they will turn their sights onto colleges and high schools. In our litigious society more football suits are a sure thing. What will happen to the big football schools? All of these Universities have mega endowments. The schools are sitting ducks for lawsuits. Then there is the moral issue. How can a University field a team knowing that half of the players are taking life time risks?
I can imagine that Penn/Ohio State will be one of the last Universities to come to grip with this problem, but what about the Ivys? Can Yale, Cornell, Brown etc. stand up to the coming suits? I would think not. The legal risks are too high. Can the Trustees at Harvard (or the Army/Navy/Air Force) put their students at risk of turning their brains into Jell-O?
The only question I have is which University is going to drop football first.
High school football is at risk. The evidence is clear that the earlier in life a person receives multiple head injuries, the greater the probability of medical complications later in life. Will individual towns that sponsor high school teams get sued in the future? It would appear that this is inevitable. Knowing that they may get sued will force changes. But the most compelling argument is, again, the moral one. How can a municipality support a sport that it knows will cause traumatic injury to the players? Based on the information now available, we know that football for high school is like giving kids cigarettes. A percentage of the players will be affected in their lives.
A check of the Internet shows that across the country the issue of high school football is up for discussion.
Now go back to the NFL. Whats the future?
I) No kick offs or punt returns. (What?)
II) No blocking or tackling above the waist. (Impossible)
III) Strict rules on a player who does use his upper body when making plays. Players who break the new contact rules will face multiple game suspensions. Repeat offenders will not be allowed to play. (There would be few players left)
IV) Players will be forced to wear new uniforms that substantially increase padding. New helmets with both a soft and a hard surface will be the rule. Players will look like the Michelin Man on the field. The ability to run fast and maneuver will be diminished. (Think of this, it doesn't work)
V) Television will be banned from showing any hard hits. Announcers will be forced to not speak of any aggressive blocking and tackling. (The assumption is that the TV attention on those doing the hard hits contributes to the number of injuries.) (Boring....)
There will be more rules. A significant one is what will teams do when and if a player does have a head bump during practice or a game. The players will have to be monitored, assessed, evaluated or otherwise examined to insure that any transitory or permanent injury is properly recognized, diagnosed and treated before allowing return to play.
How can the NFL teams maintain this standard? If every player who had head contact was forced to sit out the rest of the game, then the teams would run out of players before the 4th quarter. (The scrubs take over at the end of a game? Where's the fun in that?)
What is the future of the NFL if/when these changes are implemented? Im curious to hear from readers. I think it will kill the public interest in the game. From an audience perspective, the hard-hitting nature of the sport is part of the reason for the popularity. Without the speed and action (hard hits) on the field, pro football will lose fans.
I conclude that American football is going to have to go through some radical changes. High School teams will disappear; college and university ball is going to be suspended by some schools. Pro-football is going to be transformed into something that will not work.
Sorry if I have ruined some reader's Father's Day. Try to enjoy it anyway.
You right wing nuts are really a lot better off without all that violence!
Rush predicted this would start last year.
I don’t really care. I think hockey is better anyway.
If baseball ever gets purified of the adulterations Selig has imposed on it (and the designated hitter), no one will miss the NFL.
Never did understand how seemingly adult individuals become emotionally invested in football.
This is a problem that will be solved with money. The former pro football players will be made a class and there will be a global settlement. A newer, safer helmet will be devised. And most importantly, from Pop Warner on up, coaches will go back to teaching to correct way to tackle, which is NOT head down, ramming into another person’s helmet. When my father played, decades ago, you tackled low, grabbing the legs to stop movement, not this human missile baloney that passes for tackling nowadays.
Don’t forget boxing. We all saw the damage to Mohamed Ali and others.
For clarity, my previous comment applies to all sports. I can get that someone might find ball games interesting and wile a away a few hours on a Sunday afternoon watching the game. I don't get the emotional investment.
I hate litigation that is frivolous. AT that same time I hate the roman gladiator attitude that you ought to play no matter how badly you are hurt. Concussions are serious medical issues.
I see the problem being that A) people who play the game had not been warned about how dangerous it could be; B) it wouldn’t have mattered they wanted the big money that went with it; C) some people think competition is the only way to define yourself; D) brain trauma is just now being better understood.
I really don’t care if grown men want to hurt themselves. They should know the full set of risks before coin so
Yeah they will replace football with chess matches, no commercials.
They have newer safer helmets ad some of those are making things far worse. Brain trauma occurs when the interior of the brain sloshes around. Some of the newer helmets be causes they are better made end up allowing the whip lash type concussion——
When the game was played with leather helmets folks did not tend to use their head as a weapon. (some exceptions of course)
The continued, disgusting march to total pansyfication of the American male. And females since so many American women love football.
I hate this culture we are now forced to live in!
It’s a well reasoned article and I appreciate that. Before I go any further let me state that that I am not a football fan. I’ve never tried to foist my opinion on anyone else though, my dislike of football goes way back into high school,(1969-1973), where the football players were turned into celebrities and their academic studies were given a pass because of that.
Later on my dislike matured as I found out that the Pro teams used that celebrity status to basically blackmail Cities and states into building their temples to football, (Stadiums), using taxpayer funds. And then before the Stadiums were paid off they needed to be torn down and new ones built by using more taxpayer money.
Now on the positive side for football, it DOES teach teamwork and tactics that are applicable elsewhere in the players life. It is a true Athletic sport, to play you MUST be in great physical shape. And it does provide something for it’s fans, it’s fun to go and watch it in person.
And now as a last personal observation, when first Football was being played the players did not wear armor and padding. It seems to me as more and more padding and armor was added the players must have felt more and more immune from harm as they also ramped up the aggression in their tactics on the field. So perhaps it’s time to consider that more padding and armor needs to be removed so as to remove that feeling of invulnerability from the players.
I have a feeling that injuries such as concussions would drop drastically. Because the aggressive tactics that lead to those types of injuries would also lead to other more painful injuries and the players would stop playing in that fashion. I’ve found in my personal life that pain has been an amazing teacher. Just a thought on that subject.
I think the physical size of the players is the real problem. Three-hundred-plus-pound men slamming into each other and into 190-lb quarterbacks and running backs. Maybe if they limited the size of these guys, the concussions would be fewer. Whether guys are using steroids or not, it would lessen the use of those and other protein powder/performance-enhancing potions.
16 game season versus 162 game season.
If we had to watch all those baseball games there really would be blood in the streets.
Hockey is 82 in a regular season. There are some very, very talented and intelligent hockey players out there.
So, how are things looking for Sydney Crosby of the Penguins? Hockey's not exactly concussion free.
Pansyfication has nothing to do with it.
Like many of the tobacco suits its not about harm, but whether people were misled about the degree of risk they were taking.
Some 300lb meathead who was told by team docs/coaches etc that returning to play within days of sustaining a nasty concussion is a-ok has a legit claim.
Bull, bull and more bull.
Seriously, if you think like this, why aren’t you over at Democratic Underground?
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