In a recently published article on ESPN’s Grantland.com, Tyler Cowen and Kevin Grier wrote about a topic that’s been on my mind a lot lately: Could the persistent problems players are having with concussions end up actually killing the sport altogether?
Given football’s incredible popularity in this country, that may seem laughable, but Cowen and Grier lay out a very plausible path that leads to football’s demise. I won’t re-hash everything, but basically in their scenario football gets dragged down by a series of big-money, high-profile lawsuits brought by former players and their families contending that football caused their concussions and ongoing brain problems. After these lawsuits succeed and cost schools millions of dollars, colleges and high schools eventually get scared off and drop the sport, drying up the NFL’s talent pool. Not long afterwards, the sport dies.
A doomsday scenario to be sure…but it makes sense to me. This concussion thing is scary. Increasingly, it’s going to get tougher and tougher to convince parents to let their children play this game. I mean, I love football. Love it. But I’m the father of a young son – and I hope he never wants to play. And I imagine many other parents feel the same way.
But that all being said, football is awesome to watch and it would be awful to see it die. Could there be a way to save it? Let’s look at some possibilities to make the game safer and better.