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February 15th, 2012

Will Concussion Lawsuits Sack the NFL?

Two sports-minded economists have recently considered the potentially devastating impact that the growing wave of concussion lawsuits could have on the National Footbal League.

Writing at Grantland.com last week, Tyler Cowen and Kevin Grier argue that “it is not pure fantasy to suggest that [the NFL] may be done for good in the not-too-distant future,” and “the most plausible route to the death of football starts with liability suits.”

Never mind that anyone who voluntarily goes out for a football team — from Pop Warner to high school, and from small colleges to the pros — explicitly accepts the significant risk of physical injury that is inherent in the often violent game.  That assumption of risk won’t stop the personal injury bar from eventually drumming up enough class action lawsuits to convince insurers, perhaps, that it’s no longer in their interest to provide coverage for major college and NFL teams.

Of course, it’s reasonable to assume that before things reached such a dire stage, economically powerful leagues and franchises would scramble to support aggressive tort reformers willing to protect their blind-side.  But here’s a word of friendly fan advice for NFL owners and major college athletic directors: Why wait?  Avoid being flushed from the pocket and ultimately taking career-ending sacks.  Get behind some solid tort reform blocking efforts today — before the clock runs out.    

 

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