FanDuel - WFBC

October 03, 2009

Congress to look at NFL head injuries: Judiciary Committee chair plans hearings on impact of injuries, how to limit them, and compensation. Because it's not like they have anything else to do.

posted by graymatters to football at 01:22 PM - 15 comments

Note that this is posted to Other and not to Football. Comments: First, why is this a "judiciary" matter? Second, isn't there a federal agency that is supposed to be taking care of stuff like this; occupational safety administration or something like that? Third, for those who argue that politics and political comments should not be interjected into SpoFi commentary, maybe if the politicians would stop interjecting themselves into sports?

posted by graymatters at 01:27 PM on October 03

You forgot to put the Because it's not like they have anything else to do inside as well, because that is also editorializing, believe it or not.

And if you really don't think sports and politic mix, why post this to sportsfilter at all, regardless of category? Because this is, in fact, an arena where sports and politics can and do mix.

Indeed, the politics in sports are often more interesting than the sports themselves. In this case, I bet the fact that the NFL benefits from federal anti-trust/monopoly rulings will make the NFL workplace a legally complex area. Indeed, there is a very recent ruling that may lead to the dissolution of the antitrust exemption of 1961.

This might be a step, then, towards eliminating the standardized player contract terms across the league ("The FTC says they don't believe the league is a single entity because they compete with each other and operate separate businesses." Teams may then treat their players better by competing on terms of employment. Thus it is a legal issue relating to head injuries - or arguably so, and arguably enough for me.

Oftentimes change comes from strange directions and if this what it takes to improve football (not as a sport but as part of our shared culture) so be it.

posted by rumple at 03:25 PM on October 03

Sports and politics should, and do, mix here on SpoFi. Sports and politicians should never mix, especially in the chambers of the Congress of the United States. Nothing good is likely to come from it.

posted by Howard_T at 04:03 PM on October 03

Given the idiocy on the right, I think they should start looking to see if any of THEM have head injuries...

I expect this to work as well as the steroid stuff in MLB did.

graymatters: If an employer is willfully ignoring its employees health issues that are directly related to the job, I can see why the government would get involved.

Of course, all politics aside, what can do you do in football to prevent such injuries without completely destroying the game?

posted by Drood at 04:18 PM on October 03

You forgot to put the Because it's not like they have anything else to do inside as well, because that is also editorializing, believe it or not.

That.

graymatters: If an employer is willfully ignoring its employees health issues that are directly related to the job, I can see why the government would get involved.

That too. When a sport becomes a profession and people are paid, that is the point (in the United States) where it comes under the authority of US employment law. That's a matter of fact, not opinion, and as such it is obviously the business of those who make the laws.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 06:55 PM on October 03

I moved this to the category football. I'm not getting why it shouldn't be put there.

The NFL is national. If Congress does not get involved in an issue involving the health and welfare of the players, what legislative body should get involved?

Personally, I'm glad that Congressional hearings are held on a wide variety of topics. Many of them serve the public good.

posted by rcade at 07:31 PM on October 03

Given the idiocy on the right, I think they should start looking to see if any of THEM have head injuries...

Politics and sports might mix better on Spofi, if comments like this, whatever. I'll pick my mood. Let it slide....blow up three years from now and be called a martyr. Sounds good.

posted by tselson at 12:44 AM on October 04

The Judiciary Committee is involved in this because the NFL has antitrust exemption. If the NFL didn't seek special privileges under the law, then it would not have to deal with special oversight.

As to this being an issue worthy of the NFL, Conyers's press release cited a CRS report (pdf) that detailed the situation of injuries of former NFL players. Given the rate of injuries among NFL players and the lack of information the NFL collects on its former players, you would have to have a pretty narrow view of the role of Congress to call a hearing on this intrusive or unwarranted.

posted by bperk at 09:37 AM on October 04

If an employer is willfully ignoring its employees health issues that are directly related to the job, I can see why the government would get involved.

I do not disagree. But is that the job of Congress? Or is that the job of the federal and state agencies designated with the responsibility of enforcing the laws and protecting employees?

posted by graymatters at 11:47 AM on October 04

Since when has John Conyers exercised any sort of wisdom?

posted by Ying Yang Mafia at 12:23 AM on October 05

Since when has John Conyers exercised any sort of wisdom?

You can't be serious. Conyers is one of the best representatives in Congress by any measure (at least for anyone who cares about the poor, uninsured, executive abuse of power, torture, or steroid abuse and now NFL injuries).

posted by bperk at 09:09 AM on October 05

I do not disagree. But is that the job of Congress? Or is that the job of the federal and state agencies designated with the responsibility of enforcing the laws and protecting employees?

If the mandate of these federal and state agencies is insufficiently clear or not sufficiently supported by legislation -- "sufficiently" meaning enough to allow them to act on the behalf of some class of workers -- then yes, it is the job of Congress.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 09:42 AM on October 05

Congress has a lot better things to be doing right now and I for one resent the fact that they are spending time on this issue. The NFL players union has a responsibility to its membership to address the health and safety issues regarding their union members. There are plenty of worker protection laws already on the books, and the NFL players have union representation in place to fight for their rights, safety issues, retirement and medical benefits.

When the congress cannot get their act together to make sure all regular Americans have access to medical care, why on earth would they spend one minute on a very small and select group of individuals that have remarkably high salaries, a strong and forceful union, full medical and retirement benefits? The answer is grandstanding, plain and simple.

There are dangerous jobs out their like police work, crab fishing, coal mining, oil drilling, underwater welding, and this list can go on and on. NFL football players in my opinion are far down the list of groups needing protection from occupational hazards. They are all aware of the risks and choose the profession they love just like many others. They have a player run union to fight for their rights and benefits and deal with the unique job hazards of their work. Those ass wipes in Congress better stay focused on big jobs at hand and stop trying to grab whatever publicity they can from what is a high profile and low importance issue in the big scheme of things.

What's next, should congress address the plight of professional big wave surfers who suffer from surfer's ear? How about the abolition of football as it will never be perfectly safe and since it is just entertainment, not even a job that the nation relys on very much. Should any employer be able to put employees in harms way for the sake of making money in a non essential field?

Maybe in an effort to protect the professional athletes congress should outlaw all dangerous sports. Of course Boxers, Football players and most athletes would prefer that they just stay out of it and let them continue to make a great living doing what they love, and frankly, at one time in their lives did for simple the love of it.

posted by Atheist at 12:28 PM on October 05

I agree with Atheist. There is a private/market solution to this problem, one that should theoretically work better than some because there is a well-funded and well-organized union that should counterbalance the power of ownership.

As usual when Congress gets involved in professional sports, this is just an opportunity for Congressional grandstanding and for Congressmen to engage in their time-honored tradition of sucking up valuable governmental time and resources to remind multimillionaires like Roger Goodell who is boss.

posted by holden at 03:21 PM on October 05

People forget so quickly that congressional hearings were instrumental in getting baseball to clean up its act. I hope they do the same for football with regards to injuries and retired players.

posted by bperk at 10:03 AM on October 06

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