By Ken Reed
The lawyers and accountants of NFL franchises — not to mention the team owners themselves — are undoubtedly smiling ear-to-ear these days because the league’s financial liability risk related to the brain trauma and concussion issue has dropped considerably the last couple months.
Back in August, the league agreed to a $765 million settlement with 4,500+ former players who had sued the league over a variety of neurological conditions they were experiencing related to concussions and sub-concussive brain trauma from repetitive blows to the the head during their playing days. The deal was widely-viewed as a bargain for the NFL by legal analysts considering the severity of the brain injuries and the negative PR the concussion issue has brought to the league. Many observers were expecting a multi-billion dollar outcome for that case.
Earlier this month, the NFL secured another victory on the brain trauma front. California Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation that significantly limits workers’ compensation claims by professional athletes.
According to Ken Bensinger and Marc Lifsher, writing in the Los Angeles Times, the legislative win in California could be a bigger victory for the NFL than the league’s settlement of the former players’ lawsuit.
“The NFL’s legislative win in Sacramento could be far more valuable over the long-term. It allows the league to sidestep exposure to thousands of serious head and brain trauma claims by out-of-state players who are no longer eligible to file in California,” wrote Bensinger and Lifsher.
These wins by the NFL are losses for our society as a whole. The settlement with the former players will close the books on a lot of what the NFL knew and when the league knew it. A lot of valuable knowledge regarding brain trauma and concussions won’t see the light of day now. The legislation signed by Gov. Brown in California establishes a dangerous precedent that could one day lead to additional legislation that negatively impacts workers in industries besides professional sports.
“It’s a sellout to the billionaire owners” of professional teams, said Melissa Brown, a workers’ compensation attorney in Sacramento. “Players are suffering these terrible injuries, especially the older ones. They are going to be without a remedy.”
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #26 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Fix Youth Sports? – John O’Sullivan is Founder and CEO of Changing the Game Project and author of “Changing the Game: The Parents Guide to Raising Happy, High Performing Athletes and Giving Youth Sports Back to Our Kids.” We discuss overzealous adults in youth sports, the dangers of sport specialization, youth sports entrepreneurs and the profit-at-all-costs mindset, and the growing socio-economic gap in youth sports.
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Episode #25 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Physical Education Should Be a Critical Component of K-12 School Design – Michael Horn is co-founder of the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation.
Episode #24 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Mental Health and Athletes: Ending the Stigma – Nathan Braaten and Taylor Ricci are the founders of Dam Worth It, a non-profit created to end the stigma around mental health at colleges and universities through sport, storytelling, and community creation.
Episode #23 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Olympian Benita Fitzgerald Mosley Talks Title IX, Youth Sports and the Olympics.
Episode #22 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Rethinking Sports Fandom with Author Craig Calcaterra – We discuss Calcaterra’s new book “Rethinking Fandom: How to Beat the Sports-Industrial Complex at Its Own Game” and explore new ways to be a fan.
Episode #21 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Chatting About a Broken Game With Baseball Writer Pedro Moura – Moura is a national baseball writer for Fox Sports. We discuss how and why the game of baseball is broken, what factors caused it, and offer a few thoughts on how to “fix” a great game.
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
- League of Fans Sports Policy Director Ken Reed quoted in Washington Post column titled "What happened to P.E.? It’s losing ground in our push for academic improvement," by Jay Mathews
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.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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