• Sumo

By Ken Reed

A recent research study by Yale University revealed that if high school contact sports could be made non-contact (e.g., tackle football to flag football) the savings in medical costs would be $19.2 billion per year.

Moreover, that figure only takes into account the immediate consequences of an injury, not the long-term effects of concussions or subconcussive brain trauma. Or, the long-term effects of injuries like ligament tears, which can result in a greater than 50 percent risk of arthritis a decade later, according to Dr. Mininder Kocher, a professor of orthopedics at Harvard Medical School.

“The issue really is that contact is the driving force in all these major injuries,” said Ray Fair, an economics professor at Yale and the senior author of the study. “Any sport that does not have contact, the injuries are not that great.”

The economic cost of football is increasingly becoming a heavy burden on high schools. Insurance for football players, due to the cost of injuries and a growing number of lawsuits, has resulted in a number of schools having decided this is a sport they will not continue, according to Dr. Robert Cantu, a founder of the Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) Center at Boston University.

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans

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