Simon Law Firm October 2018


october 2018

Football Scares Me

First off, I recommend to all of you that you give a listen to Malcolm Gladwell’s free podcast “Revisionist History.” It is available for listening on the web or as a download. Although most of his podcasts are excellent, his piece on the nature of proof in season three is special for two reasons. It tackles the legal problem that we face in so many of our cases: How much evidence is proof enough that A caused B? Second, it hits close to home because my 12-year-old son is playing linebacker for his 7th-grade football team and has already missed two weeks due to his first concussion. Gladwell’s podcast talks about a speech he gave at the University of Pennsylvania, in which he called for the elimination of football and expressed his frustration with the administration for an ivy league team that lost their team captain to suicide three years prior. The autopsy on the player showed that, at the age of 21, he had CTE, chronic traumatic encephalopathy. Keep in mind this kid had straight A’s, as did his siblings, until a few months before his suicide. This is a clinical finding in post-mortem brain exams in which the patient shows a loss of neurons, tau protein deposits, white matter changes, and series of tangles in the brain — along with other symptoms. CTE only appears in athletes who have had repeated concussions and sub-concussion impacts over the years or military persons subject to blasts. There are four stages of

CTE, with stage four being the worst and involving total dementia for the victim. Depression, confusion, anger, memory loss and many other symptoms manifest along the spectrum. Football players are the most visible victims, most famously Aaron Hernandez of the Patriots who killed himself at age 27 after being imprisoned for murdering a man. His autopsy showed that he had stage three CTE, and he was the youngest person to ever be so diagnosed. In 2015, a major study by the Department of Veteran Affairs and B.U. found CTE in 96 percent of NFL players that they autopsied and 79 percent of players who played in college.

between players and the NFL for $75 million. This amount covered medical exams for retired players, $10 million for research and education, and an unlimited amount for retired players who show they suffer from brain-related conditions. So the question is: Can a minor who cannot enter into a contract understand the risk and sign it away? Should we allow young children to play football when science says playing before age 12 is dangerous because the brain is still developing drastically? Should I allow my son to follow his passion or refuse to protect him? These are the questions that keep me up at night. –Christopher Simon

A class action lawsuit went on for years, and in April 2015, a settlement was reached | 1

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