By Ken Reed

According to a Washington Post survey, more than one in three former NFL players said they experienced five or more concussions during their careers. Moreover, three out of four players who experienced at least three concussions while playing report experiencing continuing symptoms from those concussions today — in some cases, decades after playing their last game.

“The most severe consequence of an NFL career is head trauma that can lead to brain disorders as well as a host of mental health issues,” wrote Sally Jenkins, Rick Maese, and Scott Clement in the Post article about the survey.

Then there’s the consequences from all the injuries and surgeries most players deal with during and after their football careers. A University of Michigan study of 1,063 former NFL players conducted in 2009, found that eight of 10 former players reported suffering from pain that lasts most of the day. That’s 80% with pain 24/7!

How many high school and college players going out for football this August will be aware of these health-related stats on concussions and chronic pain from football?

Very few. And a big reason that’s the case is that college and high school administrators, coaches, trainers and team physicians don’t tell them.

A UCLA Entertainment Law Review article on the concussion issue published last year, concluded the NCAA has failed to adequately educate and protect college athletes.

“The NCAA’s concussion management plan really only says that every member school has to have its own concussion management plan,” says Joseph Siprut who has filed a federal lawsuit against the NCAA claiming negligence in the area of brain trauma. “In practice, that’s led to complete disaster. A lot of schools simply don’t do a good job of addressing the issue. There’s no consistency. If there were more effective measures in place, it would certainly help student-athletes. Failure to do so is negligence.”

Many NFL, NCAA, and high school players (and their parents) would undoubtedly choose to continue playing football after presented with all the facts about the short-and-long-term consequences of football participation.

But they should at least be able to make that decision after all the information is presented to them.

It’s time for full disclosure to football players at all levels.

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


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