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Tuesday, January 10, 2012
Notes on the Concussion Crisis: Worker's Compensation and Dementia
This is a really interesting article from a site called "Bloody Elbow." The site focuses on mixed martial arts, something I have to admit I never heard of before. The author of this piece, David Castillo, makes several informed observations and compelling points, some surprising. (Although I live and work in Florida, for example, I did not know our state does not recognize professional athletes as employees.)
2011 was a calender year for many things, but one of the more interesting yet unfortunate stories of the year involved the big business of college sports and the scandals that permeated the public discourse.
While the Penn State scandal dominated the airwaves, there was no shortage of cases illuminating a corrupt system with a fundamental problem in ignoring its labor force.
Cars, and prostitutes from irresponsible boosters are "chump change" compared to the billion in receipts the Southeastern Conference took in last year, or the $900+ million the Big Ten acquired from television contracts, merchandise, ticket sales, and so forth all while the college athlete got nothing in disclosed income.
Bouncing off of Branch's article, and the topic of big business corruption in college sports, Joe Nocero from The New York Times went a step further. Yes, let's pay these athletes. How? Why not lifetime health insurance, for one?
College football players are not immune to concussions, and in fact, might be the most vulnerable. With a growing body of evidence indicating the degree to which younger people are at risk for long term damage after a concussion (especially in high school where the brain has not yet fully matured), it's perhaps even scarier to see, as was the case with Owen Thomas (just 21) that nor are they immune to the progressive brain disease known as CTE.
The NFL recently dealt with several high profile concussion lawsuits, in part because the NFL has its own sordid history. Dr. Elliot J. Pellman was the league appointed official, trained in the scientific method, but ignorant of the virtue inherent to it, who acted as the mouthpiece for the NFL's former stance on concussions: 'they're not good for you, but don't worry, long term effects are not an ingredient of any given concussion'.
Which is, of course, patently false. But the NCAA too, has been the target of concussion lawsuits.
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