As Super Bowl 50 between the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos takes center stage this weekend, over 115 million fans are expected to tune-in across the world. It is estimated that 1.3 billion chicken wings and 139 million pounds of Avocado will be consumed during the game!
It’s clear the game’s popularity, and our appetite for snacks, are at an all-time high and the NFL appears to be a money-making train going full speed ahead. However, one only needs to look at a handful of recent headlines to recognize what might someday cause that train to go off the rails.
“Hundreds pay respects to Bogan high school football player who died from on-field injury” (Chicago Tribune, 10/31/2015)
“Judge Approves Settlement in Head Injuries (class action) Suit Against N.C.A.A.” (NY Times 1/26/2016)
“The NFL has another big problem — more and more players are retiring early” (Business Insider, 2/1/2016)
“87 of 91 tested ex-NFL players had (CTE) brain disease linked to head trauma” (CNN 10/11/2015)
“Another CTE case, another reason football needs dramatic change” (ESPN, 2/4/2016)
The headlines above are just the tip of the iceberg. Terms like CTE, concussion, traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury and head trauma are now heard by football fans almost as much as first down, field goal or touchdown. CTE stands for Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy and results from blows to the head over a period of time that cause concussion (mayoclinic.org).
Many former players are suffering from the types of long-term affects commonly associated with those involved in serious motor vehicle accidents, caused by the high-impact collisions they endured while playing the game. A number of these former players are filing lawsuits to help them get compensation for their costly medical expenses, loss of earning capacity and the pain and suffering that their personal injuries have caused.
Several current players are now closely looking into their workers’ compensation benefits as they begin to understand the possibility of one day facing temporary or even permanent disability. Since they are union workers, they are voicing their concerns to their union leadership to help ensure they are protected under their workers compensation policy.
A number of parents are reading the recent news and deciding against letting their children play football. As youth participation rates decline and the studies on head trauma in football continue to provide dangerous evidence, the long-term sustainability of our country’s most popular game (and TV show) is arguably in question.
One thing is certain, if football ever does go away, we’re going to be stuck with a lot of chicken wings and guacamole!
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