In June of 2012, attorneys for several former NFL players, current players, and their families sued the organization alleging that the NFL intentionally hid information about the extent and nature of injuries experienced by players. From concussions to Alzheimer’s, the players and their families accuse the NFL of not adequately preventing such injuries and for failing to adequately compensate when the injuries occurred. In August of 2013, both sides have reached a settlement, with almost a quarter of a billion dollar settlement. At this point, the court is still evaluating the adequacy of the settlement given the injuries alleged and the need to ensure that the settlement will last for the players and their families.
This case is simply the culmination of what has been brewing in the sport of football for years. More attention has been paid to the danger that can be inflicted when boys play football. These injuries have not only affected professional players but also high school and college players as well. In recent years, there have been numerous instances of head injuries and death resulting from playing. According to the New York Times, since 1997 more than 50 young people have been killed or suffered serious head injuries.
The most common injury that players suffer is head injury caused by repeated trauma. Emergency room statistics show that the largest number of sports-related injuries come from football for adults and is second among children 14 years and younger. Statistics show that the majority of such injuries come from playing defense, usually with tackling and blocking. These moves were found to be about 67.8 percent of the total number of football injuries since 1977, according to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons. Spine injuries are also common and mostly occur during football games.
The most common type of head injury for sports is a concussion. With concussions, the brain is shaken upon impact within the skull. Along with injury to the brain, damage to nerve fibers can result. There are several grades of concussion injuries and the injuries can range from a headache, memory loss, and loss of consciousness. It is important that an athlete completely recover before returning to their sport. If they sustain a second concussion before complete recovery, more serious injuries can occur including death. New rules for high school football require doctors to clear an athlete before they can return to play.
As a result of the growing awareness of the long-term injuries, football as a sport among youth is declining. Some schools have banned any contact in non-official school sports. A national youth football league has limited full speed contact in practice for players. No doubt this sport will be forced to evolve if it wants to continue its popularity as an American pastime.
This article is for general informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice. Do not rely on the above information as all cases are different and different laws apply to different cases. Consult an attorney in your area for further guidance.