Thousands of Pennsylvania parents support children's participation in full contact sports. Athletic students are under the watchful eye of trainers and coaches. But, do schools care about winning over safety? Parents' desires to see children enjoy competitive sports are tempered with worries about head blows.
Scientists have learned a lot about head trauma recently. The connection between body-crushing sports and permanent or fatal brain injuries is clear. Researchers have learned successive concussions lead to severe brain swelling, rupture and possible death.
Second impact syndrome contributed to the 2011 death of a 22-year-old Frostburg State University football player. A
wrongful death claim
states coaches forced students to perform brutal practice drills. Injured students were ordered to keep playing despite signs of head injuries.
The student complained of a headache at a practice session, passed out leaving the field and died within a week. The parents are suing Frostburg State, the head coach, the NCAA and an Easton, Pennsylvania, helmet manufacturer.
The story coincided with the $765 million settlement of a concussion lawsuit against the National Football League. Over 4,500 retired professionals blamed the NFL for downplaying concussions. The massive deal still requires a court's approval.
Settlements would average $20,000 per player annually over two decades. The huge offer provides $75 million for player medical exams and $10 million for brain injury research.
The defendant will benefit from keeping the case out of court. As large as the proposed settlement is, the amount is nothing compared to the NFL's yearly revenue of $9.5 billion. The settlement lets the NFL avoid taking direct responsibility for negligence.
Settlements frequently occur when a defendant is poised to lose a liability case. A long trial can be reputation damaging and costly. The NFL settlement spares plaintiffs from the stress of a lengthy liability trial, a condition that plaintiffs' attorneys may have agreed would be the best solution.
tribune-democrat.com, "Family sues over Frostburg death" MaryClaire Dale, Aug. 26, 2013