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Rise In Scrutiny Over College Sport Brain Injuries

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There has been a lot of press coverage of late and a lot of talk about the high incidence of brain injury among athletes. Some of these injuries have occurred among professional athletes and a much larger number have occurred in younger players who are still in college. It is estimated that there are about 2,000 professional football players in leagues across the country at this time and over 70,000 active college players (NCAA). That means that there are 35 times as many potentially devastating health issues that can affect the college level players which could lead to huge financial costs running into the billions of dollars. Such costs could ultimately bankrupt the institutions for which they players are affiliated. Most universities do not have the necessary capital to compensate players for the catastrophic injuries which can and do occur each year. Coupled with this growing dilemma is the news that the football players of Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois have been deemed by the National Labor Relations Board to be employees of the school for which they play and not merely students. As such they could be entitled to monetary compensation stemming from the players rights to market their names and likenesses to the public. This is considered by many to be opening a very large can of worms that could have devastating effects. These developments cause a good many of us to have deep concerns about the ultimate future of college sports. One has to wonder if there anything that can be done to address these issues and avoid the catastrophe that could well lie in the future. A response to these issues is necessary. The current situation is untenable and must be reckoned with in some way.
Some have suggested that perhaps new safety rules could play a big part in avoided disaster for the teams and the schools they represent. Particularly improved safety rules when it comes to blocking and tackling which are the points in the game when most of the injuries occur. Along with such changes in safety rules would be improved enforcement tactics to ensure the rules were followed and a compensation system where people would be held accountable for their actions. This would mimic to a degree the rules that are currently in place for violations to prescribed recruiting procedures.
Another possibility for a better way to address the financial drain from which catastrophic injuries result might be a type of workers compensation trust fund. This could be set up and fed by funds that are generated from television contracts and which could provide substantial monetary reserves.
There is a lot of bad press right now about these difficult issues but the good news is that it is being addressed and a lot of thinking is taking place on how to best solve these issues.