With the start of college football, this state, like many others around the country, is abuzz with excitement. The start of this year’s college football season comes on the heels of a recent approval of a $75 million settlement of a class-action concussions case against the NCAA.
Some of this settlement money is earmarked for research and prevention of concussions. Before this settlement, however, the NCAA had already taken a step in the direction of trying to prevent concussions and head injuries by implementing new and stricter penalties for targeting – hitting defenseless players – and using one’s helmet as a weapon to hit another player.
Whether motivated by litigation or simply to prevent more injuries, some teams have also taken steps to minimize head injuries while playing football. The Nebraska Cornhuskers, for example, have implemented rugby-style tackling techniques in order to minimize head injuries. While the push for the new style of tackling is mentioned as a way to minimize targeting penalties, perhaps the greater reason is that the big-time football programs of the country, like Nebraska, are feeling the pressure to be proactive as a team in actually reducing concussions and the long-term effects of head injuries.
But do the sacrifices that individual players make outweigh the financial rewards to the universities and governing bodies for which they play?
The Big 10 Conference alone earned $448 million in television revenue in 2015 and paid its commissioner $2.3 million. Meanwhile, college football players risk limb and sometimes even their lives without any compensation for the risks they take for their schools. Leaving it all on the field should refer to competition and effort, not the sacrifice of a player’s future.