You have a major corporation whose product is linked to a disease. They try to cover it up. Behind the scenes, they pay off individuals suffering after using their product. Meanwhile, they publish bad research suggesting that their product is safe. The corporation’s studies don’t hold up. Disease continues to turn up in individuals who use product. Corporation admits that there may be a problem with product while not directly admitting it. The corporation never fully admits to any problem with product and reminds us that there is no cause and effect relationship between their product and the disease
That is basically what happened with Big Tobacco. And that is what has happened with football.
The corporations are right. There is no cause and effect relationship established between using their product (smoking, playing football) and the disease (lung cancer, CTE). We didn’t know why smoking caused health issues. We didn’t have to. We saw that lung cancer patients were usually smokers. Likewise, we see that CTE (which was first discovered in the brain of Mike Webster) appears in football players. So why can we not say that the product caused the disease?
Ethics. It simply wouldn’t be ethical to force someone who is healthy to smoke or to force someone to play football while controlling other variables. It is highly impracticle and unreasonable to expect for a study to show a cause and effect relationship (especially when the effect is so detrimental to ones health). But when you see case after case of a unique disease or other health problems, one would naturally try and find what the individuals with the disease had in common. With lung cancer, it is smoking. With CTE, it is football.
No need to prove that football causes CTE. Or by what means football does. We just know that they are irrefutably related. And since we know that, football is doomed.
The above took place opening night for college football, and I believe it demonstrates the lack of concern the NCAA, Colleges, and coaches seem to have for concussions. And why football won’t be sanctioned in the NCAA for long.
It is the job of the trainers and the schools to look out for the players (who aren’t paid remember). No one did their job here. You see the player take a decent hit and his head whiplashes on the turf. Moments later he is requesting to come out of the game, but he can’t because they are running a hurry up offense late in the game. After a play, he falls to his knees and begins vomiting (a sign of a concussion). He goes out for a play and returns to the field of play! He ends up making a big play shortly after returning. Later in the game, he is open and the ball hits his hands. This time, however, he doesn’t catch it. The ball hits off his hands and an ole miss player makes an interception. Keep in mind that this is one of the best receivers in the SEC. When a ball hits him the hands, it’s usually a catch. Why didn’t he catch it here?
Suppose #87 suffers from severe depression 10 years down the road. If you were on the jury and you saw this video, would you feel that Vanderbilt University, the coaching staff, and the coach did everything that they could to protect his well-being? Even if he said he was okay? Knowing what we know about concussions, player self-reporting, and the possible long term effects, a trainer should have at the very least tested for a concussion. This is just one example that stood out to me. There are countless others out there I am sure. It’s simply not ethical to have schools endorse a sport that is linked in some way to CTE. It does not matter the amount of money the sport may generate for the schools or TV stations. It’s easy to look the other way when it isn’t you out there. And I am sure there are players who are willing to risk it. That is fine. They can do what they want, but are our institutes of higher education the places to have a game with links to dimentia? Colleges and the NCAA simply cannot afford to risk lawsuits alleging that the staff did not care for concussions in the correct way. High schools cannot either for that matter. Because of such concerns, I fully believe that college and high schools will begin to absolve their football programs. It won’t be popular. It will be for the best though. It will benefit our schools who can focus on academics. And it will benefit kids and young adults by not subjecting them to possibly developing CTE.
Even if the game of football some how survives at the college and high school level, I cannot imagine that there are many parents out there comfortable letting their kids play football. And if they are, they have to accept the possibility that they will find him with a self inflicted gun shot wound to the chest.
What this means for football and the NFL is that there will no longer be the number of quality players coming up through the ranks. It will suffer undoubtedly. It will become a game people play when they have no other options to make a living and are willing to risk everything – even who they are (their personality, demeanor, and memories).