The End Of Football

A couple of very good economists, Tyler Cowen and Kevin Grier, have published an important work that deserves everyone’s attention. They lay out a credible case for the end of football in the U.S.

The most plausible route to the death of football starts with liability suits.1┬áPrecollegiate football is already sustaining 90,000 or more concussions each year. If ex-players start winning judgments, insurance companies might cease to insure colleges and high schools against football-related lawsuits. Coaches, team physicians, and referees would become increasingly nervous about their financial exposure in our litigious society. If you are coaching a high school football team, or refereeing a game as a volunteer, it is sobering to think that you could be hit with a $2 million lawsuit at any point in time. A lot of people will see it as easier to just stay away. More and more modern parents will keep their kids out of playing football, and there tends to be a “contagion effect” with such decisions; once some parents have second thoughts, many others follow suit. We have seen such domino effects with the risks of smoking or driving without seatbelts, two unsafe practices that were common in the 1960s but are much rarer today. The end result is that the NFL’s feeder system would dry up and advertisers and networks would shy away from associating with the league, owing to adverse publicity and some chance of being named as co-defendants in future lawsuits.

The entire article is worth a read. Given that they are cold blooded economists, they nicely lay out the positives and negatives of a world without football. While I think they make a persuasive case, I do think they failed to consider one fact.

If indeed the existence of football is truly threatened by the machinations of the legal profession tort reform will become overnight the foremost political issue of the 21st Century.

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