Head Injuries, Student Welfare, and Saving College Football: A Game Plan for the NCAA

54 Pages Posted: 7 Jun 2014

Date Written: June 5, 2014


As understanding regarding the severity of head injuries and concussions in football increased dramatically, President Obama entered the fray in 2013 when he called on the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) to “think about” concussions and injuries in college football.

President Obama’s involvement is not the first instance of a president calling for reform in college football due to severe injuries. At the turn of the 20th century, President Theodore Roosevelt responded to the tragic deaths of eighteen college football players in 1904. President Roosevelt called on university leaders to participate in a White House Conference that was called to deal with the problem of injuries and deaths in college football through the development of safety rules. Roosevelt, no doubt, was also responding to concerns raised in the press, including a 1903 article in the New York Times referring to college football as “mayhem and homicide.” College leaders heeded President Roosevelt’s call by gathering and eventually adopting new safety rules, although it took over a decade for the new football rules to be put in place.

This article sets forth a challenging but viable game plan for protecting the health and well-being of intercollegiate football players. Acting proactively will help revitalize the NCAA’s brand of competitive, student-centered athletics. This article consists of three parts: The Problem of Head Injuries in College Football; Solving the Problem of Head Injuries in College Football; and Conclusion.

Keywords: National Collegiate Athletic Association, NCAA, football, head injuries, concussion

JEL Classification: K19, K32

Suggested Citation

Smith, Rodney K., Head Injuries, Student Welfare, and Saving College Football: A Game Plan for the NCAA (June 5, 2014). Pepperdine Law Review, Vol. 41, No. 2, p. 267, 2014, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2446715

Rodney K. Smith (Contact Author)

Thomas Jefferson School of Law ( email )

701 B Street
Suite 110
San Diego, CA 92101
United States
(619) 961-4389 (Phone)

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