On a cool day in September a mother and her thirteen-year-old son go to sign up for the pop warner league. Along with some sort of payment for shoulder pads and a helmet, a waiver is signed. This waiver simply states, my child is going to put on the gear I just paid for and slam into other children. And when the parent signs this waiver it legally means that they acknowledge that they are fully aware of the potential dangers of participating in said sport and waive any right to pursue a claim if an injury occurs from participating in this sport. At an early age, parent and child are warned of the dangers of football.
On August 29, earlier this year, the NFL reached a settlement compensation of $765 million for concussion related lawsuits being filed by more than 4,000 former players. The settlement is meant to fund medical exams, concussion-related compensation and medical research. At first glance some think the former players got cheated. Here’s the NFL, who some project to earn around $12 Billion this year, giving its lunch money to former icons who helped build it into the empire it is today. While I agree, that the NFL should bear some responsibility for the employees they put out on the field, but to be responsible for the injuries sustained is not only idiotic, but simply not fare.
NASCAR drivers and professional bull riders should be retiring on lawsuits if this is what it has come to in professional sports. Both of these sports have participants concussed on a regular basis, and in worse cases killed. Where are the former drivers and riders suing for injuries they sustained? The risk of injury from slamming bodies and heads is blatantly obvious from playing football. I can appreciate the fact that in the 70’s and 80’s all the medical information on concussion and traumatic brain injuries might not have been readily available. And sure maybe the NFL can help in doing research in to better protect their players. However, most of the former NFL players are college-educated who know, banging your head repeatedly, hurts.
The NFL is essentially built from the players. They compensate the players with million dollar contracts, they get million-dollar endorsement deals, and a career that is unlike any other. When they retire, I don’t think the health of the player is the NFL’s responsibility and more importantly I don’t think it’s the NFL’s fault if the player’s health has deteriorated. Car mechanics, coal miners, and factory workers are the heart and soul of this great country of ours. Each one of them take an environmental risk with their jobs that could effect their health years after they retire. They don’t make millions and in some cases can’t afford a pair of Nikes let alone be endorsed by them.
In the end, the ultimate person responsible for your health is you. The choices we make dictate the lives we lead. No one forced these players to play football; they could have been doctors, lawyers, police officers, or garbage men. Biting the hand that fed you for years for more food is simply getting another drink at the well; and these players are thirsty.