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 #10 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: An Issues Discussion With Paul Dolan – Dolan is the Cleveland Indians Owner and CEO. He discusses the use of Native American names and logos by sports teams and the decisions to drop the Chief Wahoo logo and the upcoming change to the team name. Other baseball topics include health and safety, possible MLB rule changes and youth participation in the sport.
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Episode #9 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking Sports Issues With Ralph Nader – Nader is a consumer advocate and was named one of the “100 Most Influential Americans of the 20th Century” by Time magazine. He is the founder of League of Fans.
Episode #8 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Save College Sports From Overcommercialization and Professionalization? – The guest is Dr. David Ridpath, a sports business professor and past president of the Drake Group
Episode #7 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Brain Trauma and CTE Risk in Sports With Dr. Ann McKee – Dr. McKee works in the field of neuropathology and has demonstrated that “mild” repetitive head trauma can provoke chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a devastating neurodegenerative disease.
Episode #6 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Need for Quality Physical Education in Our Schools is Greater Than Ever – The guest is Clayton Ellis, one of our nation’s leading advocates for getting our young people to be more physically active.
Episode #5 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Youth Sports with Positive Coaching Alliance Founder Jim Thompson – Thompson started Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) in 1998 to help create a movement to transform the culture of youth sports from “win-at-all-costs” to a positive, character-building experience.
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.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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.
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