FanDuel - WFBC

February 10, 2012

Economists Imagine the Death of Football: "The NFL is done for the year, but it is not pure fantasy to suggest that it may be done for good in the not-too-distant future," write academic economists Tyler Cowen and Kevin Grier for Grantland. "The most plausible route to the death of football starts with liability suits. Precollegiate football is already sustaining 90,000 or more concussions each year. If ex-players start winning judgments, insurance companies might cease to insure colleges and high schools against football-related lawsuits."

posted by rcade to football at 03:43 PM - 13 comments

If football fades away for the reasons they describe, it seems like it would have to take hockey with it. I'm not sure you can separate the two in terms of their risk. I wonder what the impact on the non-contact major sports would be. This might turn out to be the savior of MLB.

It even seems like the NHL has a higher profile victim of this sort of injury in the form of Sidney Crosby (although maybe that wasn't a concussion after all? I don't follow it closely enough to know for sure, but I heard something on PTI about how it might be a neck injury that has similar symptoms).

posted by feloniousmonk at 03:53 PM on February 10

From a personal standpoint I would hate to see that happen just because of my love for the game at all levels of competition. But could you even imagine the economic disaster that could result from no football. Just the loss of jobs within the sport alone would be difficult to absorb, especially considering the job losses already being absorbed. However, the loss of football would stretch into many other fields with revenue losses and job losses. heck, crime rates would probably even go up drastically.

posted by preacher81 at 03:56 PM on February 10

Tyler Cowen has been interviewed multiple times on Econtalk. He has many interesting and provocative views on some big issues of the day.

posted by sbacharach at 04:50 PM on February 10

I think its more likely, considering the amount of money involved, for football to enact some new rules/safety procedures to protect players in the next ten years in response to injuries.

This will result in the universe collapsing because of the endless amount of GRAARRRR this will generate on every sports related site on the internet. The conversation with grow so dense that it will collapse on itself and form a black hole that not even alternate-universe decathlon winner Rob Gronkowski will be able to escape.

posted by Joey Michaels at 05:15 PM on February 10

"The most plausible route to the death of football starts with liability suits."

And ends with easily written contracts that hold the owners not liable.

Tyler Cowen and Kevin Grier I'm sorry.

Imagine all the people. You, you may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one I hope some day you'll join us And the world will live as one

posted by vapidave at 05:18 PM on February 10

The train is coming. It's just traveling at city limits speed at the moment. The pace will pick up as soon as it gets past the last crossing at the edge of town.

posted by beaverboard at 05:42 PM on February 10

And ends with easily written contracts that hold the owners not liable.

Except, the players don't have to sign those contracts.

Never mind liability suits, the insurance premiums and health benefits (for the retired player) for the players will begin to sky rocket if things don't change soon.

posted by grum@work at 06:08 PM on February 10

From the Dorsett article linked by beaverboard:

"Yeah, I understand you paid me to do this, but still yet, I put my life on the line for you, I put my health on the line," Dorsett says. "And yet when the time comes, you turn your back on me? That's not right. That's not the American way."

Actually, considering how we treat our veterans (just one link of hundreds), I'd say that that is exactly the American way.

posted by Joey Michaels at 06:31 PM on February 10

Never mind liability suits, the insurance premiums and health benefits (for the retired player) for the players will begin to sky rocket if things don't change soon.

Very true.

But you can be sure the owners and insurance companies will put something in the policies' fine print to protect themselves.

Until the players stand up and do something serious about this, and the NFLPA quits paying lip service to the problem and takes the health issues of its members seriously, those needed changes will be very slow in coming.

posted by roberts at 10:46 AM on February 11

And ends with easily written contracts that hold the owners not liable.

If that's all it took, no employer would ever be held liable for anything. Private contracts don't trump workplace safety laws.

Actually, considering how we treat our veterans (just one link of hundreds), I'd say that that is exactly the American way.

There's an exceptional amount of money being paid these days to former soldiers who've suffered even minor injuries like tinnitus. I don't think we're turning our backs on them where health is concerned, though more could be done to help them get back into the workforce.

posted by rcade at 11:19 AM on February 11

This might turn out to be the savior of MLB.

Savior?

MLB finishes 2011 with fifth highest attendance ever

Overall, the last eight years make up the eight best-attended seasons in the history of Major League Baseball, including four record-breaking years.

Baseball is more popular now than it was in The Steroid Era.

Attendance isn't the same barometer it used to be.

The National Pastime is not a quaint operation. Last year the Milwaukee Brewers lost 85 games in one of the smallest major league markets, and yet they drew more fans to Miller Park than the Yankees did to Yankee Stadium for any of Joe DiMaggio's 13 years with the team. DiMaggio played only 176 night games in his career, played only 242 games out of the Eastern time zone (all of those in Chicago or St. Louis) and only once, in his final season, appeared in a World Series that was carried on live national television. And those were the golden days?

The scale of Major League Baseball is remarkable when compared to its history and to other sports today. MLB draws more than 73 million people to 2,430 regular season games -- that's 13 million more people than watch NFL, NBA and NHL games combined, even with those sports getting 286 more gates.

I'm not saying it's all roses. There are challenges for baseball. But MLB has done quite well especially when you consider the recent economy woes.

Maybe the loss of the NFL pushes MLB back to its status as our National Pastime, but it certainly doesn't need saving.

posted by justgary at 01:06 PM on February 11

But could you even imagine the economic disaster that could result from no football. Just the loss of jobs within the sport alone would be difficult to absorb, especially considering the job losses already being absorbed. However, the loss of football would stretch into many other fields with revenue losses and job losses. heck, crime rates would probably even go up drastically.

Eh. The NFL takes in a lot of money, but a lot of that money is pretty highly concentrated among a relatively few individuals. I'm guessing that it's not really a lot of jobs. if you want to call it an "economic disaster", I think you're going to need to come up with a whole new superlative to describe what happened to the Detroit auto industry, or the textile industry, or the semiconductor industry, or all the helpdesk jobs that went to Cyberabad.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 04:40 PM on February 11

lbb, with you on that. Not only is the money fairly concentrated, it all comes from disposable income. If the NFL goes away the money people spend on it quickly goes elsewhere...baseball, basketball, soccer, whatever.

And ends with easily written contracts that hold the owners not liable Beyond all the other responses, keep in mind that we're also talking about high school and college programs. There is no way a school could field a team if the liability coverage wasn't there. Manufacturers of equipment would be far less profitable and the entire process just wouldn't make fiscal sense. I'm not sure they can change the game enough to make it safe enough to avoid the problems

posted by dviking at 05:03 PM on February 11

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