By Ken Reed
Former Eastern Illinois safety Adrian Arrington, through attorney Joseph Siprut, is suing the NCAA, claiming “for over 30 years, the NCAA has failed its student-athletes — choosing instead to sacrifice them on the altar of money and profits ….”
Siprut says the NCAA has not actively protected, treated or advised its football players who have suffered brain trauma, according to a recent article by the Chicago Tribune‘s Rick Telander. Siprut is hoping to eventually make his suit a class-action lawsuit.
“The facts are that Arrington was concussed so many times that he is, for now, at least, a ruined young man. All from football.” writes Telander. “At risk is the very existence of the game.”
Siprut says his goal isn’t to ban football, but his lawsuit could be a major step in that direction, at least at the small college, high school and youth levels.
“My goal is not to ban football,” says Siprut, who has a young boy, Joe Jr., whom he doesn’t want playing the game. “But if through the process of dialogue, reasonable people feel it’s too dangerous to play, I’ll be able to sleep at night.”
It likely will be economics pressures rather than safety concerns that spell the end for football at the high school level.
“Some kind of legal action could create a domino effect and dry up the feeder programs,” said Kevin Grier, a University of Oklahoma economics professor. “These lawsuits and (possible) judgments will put more pressure on insurance companies, and that will put more pressure on schools.”
Siprut says his lawsuit is focusing on the NCAA because its officials knew as early as 2003 that multiple concussions could lead to health problems, yet did not require colleges to have concussion policies until 2010.
Kudos to both Siprut and Arrington, and any other players that step up, for putting legal pressure on the NCAA.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of FansPrint
- League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.