Is there a risk of brain injury when playing games like football? No question. Have players in Chicago and throughout Illinois been permanently disabled (and even killed) as a result of collisions on the field? Yes. Is everything possible being done to keep players safe? That’s still up for debate.
The connection between football playing and brain injuries is well-known. But what truly matters from a legal perspective is the work that is done (or not done) to prevent those injuries. Not all injuries lead to legal liability, but many do. That is because quite often these brain injuries are predicated in whole or in part on unreasonable behavior by those in a position to prevent the harm. That premise is at root in the high-profile NFL brain injury cases, where hundreds of former players claim they suffered serious consequences as a result of their playing days. The suit claims that the NFL hid information about those risks and otherwise did not do enough to keep those players as healthy as possible.
The NFL finally made news in a good way last week, after the league donated $30 million to the National Institute of Health. The donation will be used to help research efforts into head injuries in all athletes.