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9 out of 10 Fans Agree Brain Injuries in Football are Problematic, Yet Many Remain Fans

By: Joseph Cammarata

The NFL season is here, and while recent studies and lawsuits have raised awareness about the long-term risks associated with repetitive brain trauma in football, most people still remain fans of the sport. In fact, recent polls of sports fans indicate that the publicity surrounding traumatic brain injuries has done little to detract from the sport’s popularity.

As one of nation’s favorite pastimes, football has long held a cherished spot in America’s heart. This is despite the increasing amount of evidence that concussions and brain injuries sustained by athletes during their career can lead to devastating consequences, including conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, ALS, and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) – a serious neurodegenerative condition which researchers recently found in 99% of former NFL athletes. The love of football also survived the NFL’s recent public admission of the links between head trauma and long-term risks.

In a nationwide poll conducted by the University of Massachusetts and The Washington Post, researchers received feedback that shows football remains one of the country’s most prized sports:

  • More Americans are fans of professional football than any other sport.
  • The 60% of Americans who favored football is a 10% increase from a similar poll conducted in 2008.

These results become more concerning when you take the science and publicity behind football-related head trauma into account. According to the poll:

  • 83% of Americans believe the science supporting links between serious neurodegenerative conditions and repetitive head trauma suffered by athletes.
  • 90% of Americans believe that brain injuries and long-term health risks are a problem for professional football (76% believe is it a major problem).

Acknowledgement of problems associated with head trauma and long-term health consequences for athletes has done little to prevent Americans from watching and enjoying football, and has done little to detract from the popularity of the sport overall. While most Americans choose to enjoy football as a source of entertainment, however, there have been a number of players who have retired early due to those risks.

Continued Efforts Can Create Change

Although concerning, the poll results are largely expected. After all, football has long been a popular pastime enjoyed by millions, and has dominated Sundays and weekday nights for many across the nation, including those who enjoy Fantasy Football. What they do succeed in showing is that there is greater public awareness about the risks and long term consequences associated with sustaining a concussion.

At Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C., our legal team has been advocating for public safety since our firm was first formed over 45 years ago. We believe it is important to raise awareness about the life-changes which can result as a result of sustaining a concussion. Already, these efforts have succeeded in prompting important changes which have taken place throughout local communities across the country, including right here in the District of Columbia. For instance, I helped draft the DC Athletic Concussion Protection Act of 2011, which, when it became law, made critical safety changes to youth sports and how leagues, coaches, and parents address head injuries. With continued persistence, we can pursue similar and life-saving changes in football and contact sports at all levels.