Why FSU Needs To Pay Attention To Football Concussion Lawsuits

I previously posted a blog about youth football, the NFL concussion lawsuit and my own experience with baseball injuries. If you’re reading this and want some context for this post, check it out before proceeding.

Full disclosure:

  • I’m not a fan of the ACC, but that doesn’t mean I automatically love a move to the Big XII.
  • I’d rather beg, borrow or steal our way into the SEC, but I also realize that’s not happening.
  • Predicting the future is hard.
  • Currently, I have little confidence that any scenario works out well for FSU in the long run.

Twitter is full of Big XII talk among Seminole fans. It seems like most Noles are happy to bail out of the ACC at the earliest opportunity possible. We’ve all had it with goofy scheduling, terrible officiating and awful contract negotiations. I’m firmly with everyone else’s dislike of the ACC. As I tweeted once, the Noles are a beer school, the ACC feels more like a wine and cheese crowd. FSU had fun beating up on the other schools for a while, but once football equalized the big, bad, bully didn’t have anything in common with the rest of the kids. Now the money is better elsewhere and we’d rather not always play catch up to Florida or look at UCF and USF starting to grow in our review mirror.

What I haven’t heard discussed is this scenario; a football apocalypse. Sure, it sounds unlikely, but maybe it’s not so far-fetched? Football is the money driver for schools, for now. With the NFL Concussion Lawsuit growing bigger everyday, and the amount of youths participating in football declining slowly, FSU needs to be very careful about how and where it steps if it leaves the ACC. What happens if heavier regulation on football, a ban on under-12 leagues and the rise of soccer all contribute to football becoming the new boxing?

It wasn’t that long ago that boxing was huge in America. Corruption and the violence of the sport eventually led to its demise. It’s not illegal, but it’s not exactly popular. Even MMA, which is growing in popularity, suffers from the “Momma’s Don’t Let Their Kids Grow Up” to be fighters syndrome. Nobody wants their kid to grow up and fight in a cage. What happens to FSU if football suddenly falls out of favor? What happens if a generation of high tech kids aren’t allowed to play football? A move to the Big XII could horribly hurt FSU in that scenario. Hugely reduced revenue would squeeze FSU’s ability to travel. It could lead to cuts in all sports. College football, in general, would go through a painful period of contraction. The devastation could be far-reaching.

Is any of this likely? My gut says no. Football is violent, but many people choose to play it anyway. The outcome of the NFL lawsuit won’t change that. Soccer is growing in popularity, but will Americans ever truly latch on to it? Even if they do, I have a hard time seeing Doak Campbell Stadium full of 80,000 soccer fans any time in the near future (maybe in the distant future). Not many people saw TV revenue exploding. Not many saw the huge popularity or money-making potential of college sports 20 years ago. It’s not about what we know or know that we don’t know. It’s about what we don’t know that we don’t know.

Ultimately, FSU has very tough job ahead of it, no matter what decision it makes. Maybe the solution is to take the money and run right now? Maybe it’s more research? Maybe it’s something that nobody is talking about or thinking about right now? Let’s hope we get it right this time, for the long-term, so that our beloved Seminoles gain the stability FSU is so obviously craving.


Youth Football, Baseball and Living My Life

Professional football is huge. College football is huge and getting bigger with every ESPN TV contract a conference signs. People love football. It’s exciting to watch at the professional level and it’s a bonding ritual on Saturdays in the South. It’s America’s most watched sport by far. So when I was watching Morning Joe the other day, they shocked me with a story that participation in youth football is declining.

Why? Concussions. The NFL has a mega lawsuit on its hands. Former players are claiming that the NFL knew about concussion risks long ago, but sacrificed player safety for the almighty TV dollar. Did they? I don’t know. What I know is that I’ve read many accounts of Post-Concussion Syndrome. I watched my favorite players over the years suffer from symptoms for long periods of time (Wayne Chrebet comes to mind). More recently, there’s Junior Seau’s suicide. It isn’t the first time a former NFL player took his life while leaving his brain intact for potential concussion impact study, but the timing of it and the shock of it puts it in the forefront of the football concussion debate.

All of this leads to a growing debate about whether kids should play tackle football or not. There are a ton of really good articles about youth football, concussions, and whether kids should play the sport.

Here are three that I liked:

So what’s the right move? I’ve heard friends say that their kids won’t play football, but will play baseball, basketball, hockey or soccer instead. Here’s the issue though, none of those are truly safe either. Between an aching shoulder, a knee that can tell me that a thunderstorm is on the way and major injury on two different occasions, I can tell you that baseball is just as bad as, if not worse than, football in my instance. In soccer, head injuries happen. Hockey is the same. If we’re trying to avoid every potential injury, every potential concussion, we’re going to have to lock everyone in a padded room. It’s up to parents to find a balance.

I’m all for safety. I’m all for equipment improvements. I’m all for enforcing the rules and flushing out bad coaches that teach bad technique, bad sportsmanship and bad attitudes. At the same time, we all have to live our lives. Education of risk is the key. There’s an associated risk of waking up every day and getting out of bed, but we all do it. Some of us take risky jobs, others don’t. It’s all choice. Let’s not overreact, let’s get more facts and when the verdict is finally in, let’s let them play.