Finally, someone is saying what we've advocated for years: While the NFL is raising awareness for research on concussions, these head-on-head collisions can exact even more damage (and societal cost) when they prompt catastrophic, spinal cord injuries. New York Times writer Kevin Cook's editorial ("Dying to Play") cites the recent latest broken neck incident -- this time, Tulane University player Devon Walker -- as yet another example of how head injuries are undermining this sport we so dearly love.
It's also a sport that we, as spectators, are willing to pay handsomely to watch from good seats. Cook wonders if defensive back Walker will ever walk again. The Tulane player will undoubtedly enter the darkest chapter of his life. Most of us, sadly, will forget him, along with the countless others who have been carted off football fields, forever maimed. But the game goes on, hiding the ugly truth.
Take for instance the Allen, Texas, high school that recently completed its $60 million, 18,000-seat stadium. But zero dollars were invested in catastrophic injury insurance for the players who'll give blood on this field. When that happens, everyone pays.
Paralyzed Rolling Meadows High School football player Rob Komosa, for instance, was 17 when he suffered a spinal cord injury at practice. A lawsuit with the school district resulted in a $12.5 million payout, but the total cost to society -- in lost wages for him and family members, ongoing medical care, and for long-term health care -- will likely exceed that amount.
Let's consider the human toll that these football-induced, spinal cord injuries take on our young players. While we can't slow the speed of the game, we can take the precautions of providing catastrophic insurance for each player who takes to the field.