End of Youth Football – Not So Fast

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John Sadler of Sadler Sports Insurance explains in his blog why the recent media frenzy about the end of football due to the concussion and CTE risk is not likely to shut down the liability insurance markets for youth football organizations. Sadler explains why youth football is different than college and the pros and lays out a five-point risk management strategy.

John Sadler of Sadler Sports Insurance recently posted a blog entitled “End Of Youth Football-Not so Fast” in response to a controversial blog entitled “What Would the End of Football Look like?” on Grantland.com. The Grantland.com blog laid out a doomsday scenario for all levels of football (youth, high school, college, and pro) whereby concussion lawsuits resulting in huge payouts would force football liability insurance carriers out of the marketplace resulting in the abandonment of football due to the risks of going uninsured. However, this scenario is not likely to materialize, especially for youth football, for many reasons as outlined by Sadler.

According to John Sadler, President of Sadler Sports Insurance, “There are many reasons why you can't lump youth football with college or pro football in terms of risks associated with concussions or CTE. According to our knowledge base and injury statistics from our youth football insurance clients, the risk profile of the youth football player is vastly different and can be addressed with existing risk management techniques As a result, we don’t expect to see a large impact on the youth tackle football marketplace."

The risks of these brain injury situations and the required protective responses need to be studied differently in the context of youth football, high school, college, and pros. The level of aggression, speed, and strength of the players increases tremendously from youth football to high school football as does the concussion risk. Also, the number of cumulative helmet to helmet hits and other head impacts increases significantly after high school football. The cumulative impacts over a college career are more than double those over a high school career and the number of impacts for pro players are significantly higher even though the NFL has recently changed practice rules to limit helmet to helmet contact. Other complicating factors that may result in additional brain damage and in higher suicide rates in the NFL are the past use of steroids, other drug additions, and unstable lifestyles.

As regards youth tackle football and high school football, the two primary areas of concern are from the initial concussion and second impact syndrome concussions but not from CTE. Any concussion lawsuit against a youth football organization or high school would be negligence based. However, if the youth football organization or high school are following the safety standards set by state concussion statutes (if any) and by their governing bodies, there is little risk of being found negligence but there will likely be significant legal defense costs. As regards lawsuits arising from CTE, youth football and high school programs have little exposure due to the relatively small number of exposures as compared to college and pro football. Furthermore, the existence of CTE can be expensive and difficult to prove.

Sadler’s blog outlines a five point risk management strategy for youth football organizations that if fully implemented, should effectively address the risks of first time concussions and second impact syndrome. In addition, the blog reviews the current state of youth football insurance in light of the concussion risk including the availability of coverage and any impact on rates.

For more detailed information on the risks of second impact syndrome and CTE; the perspective of the insurance industry; and if premiums are rising for youth football due to concussions, see http://www.sadlersports.com/blog and search “concussions”.

For more detail on a comprehensive youth football insurance program, see http://www.sadlersports.com/ayf

About Sadler Sports & Recreation Insurance:

Sadler Sports & Recreation Insurance is a division of Sadler & Company, Inc. and specializes in placing sports insurance for teams/leagues, camps & clinics, national sports and recreation associations, and fitness & wellness. Policies written include Accident, General Liability, Directors & Officers Liability, Crime, and Equipment. Sadler also provides a full range of risk management services for its clients and educates the public on sports risk management issues. John Sadler, President of Sadler & Company, Inc., is a sports insurance specialist, risk manager, attorney, speaker, and blogger.

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