If you thought that the apparent $765 million settlement in the NFL brain injury case would lead to the end of controversy about football concussions–think again. For one thing, many connected to the NFL have already voiced disapproval at the settlement. There will undoubtedly be intense pressure on the league to live up to its promises to do everything possible to keep players safe.
College Football Head Injuries
On top of that, there remain legal battles still in the works involving college football. Former players for various teams have filed lawsuits against the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). New players continue to come forward sharing stories of serious long-term injury that they believe are tied to their playing days.
Illinois is at the center of the NCAA concussion controversy, because local players were the first to file suit and seek accountability. In 2011, a former player from Eastern Illinois University filed a lawsuit; the case is still pending and is currently in mediation.
The Illinois lawsuit is not the only one to hit the collegiate league. As recent reports explain, other athletes have also come forward to press for their rights, including more football players and those who played hockey and soccer. In July, class certification documents were filed in the case, which may eventually lead to hundreds or thousands more players coming forward to share their story of head injury.
Observers believe that the case against the NCAA is actually much stronger than the one against the NFL. That is because the NCAA had very little concussion management programs in place and because college players are not part of a union, unlike the NFL, and so there are few agreements regarding arbitration or forced conflict resolution matters.
Taking Action to Prevent Head Injuries
Recently, the State Journal-Register editorialized on the topic. The editorial board explained how it is critical for all those in charge of different leagues, from youth football to the pros, to be vigilant about concussion risks. As noted,concussions are the “invisible injury” because such a large number of players who suffer the head damage are never diagnosed as receiving it.
The story explained the legislative action that has been taken in recent years in order to tackle the problem. For example, in 2011 Illinois passed a new law that sought to protect young players in all contact sports. Per the new rules, all players suspected of suffering a concussion must sit out until cleared. In addition, the law mandates education about the risks of head injuries for coaches, athletes, and parents.
In late August Illinois Senator Dick Durbin proposed similar legislation at the national level. Known as the “Protecting Student Athlete from Concussion Act,” the bill would mandate that all states develop concussion safety rules as well as require play suspension for those who may have been hurt.
As more data pours in regarding the fact that even “minor” concussions can cause serious injury, it is becoming more logical for aggressive action to be taken. Hopefully the new legislation makes an impact. But, in the end, truly tackling the problem will require those involved to demand accountability.
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