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02-04-2013, 10:49 AM
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Originally Posted by tarheelhockey View Post
We agree on this on a certain ethical level. People have always known the "got hit in the head one too many times" stereotype about football players.

But, that's only one part of the picture here. Other factors include:

- Common-sense arguments are often not effective as legal protection. If the NFL has promoted a product that necessarily causes brain damage, encouraged employees to engage in brain-damaging behavior and rewarded those who are proficient at it (ie, Ray Lewis), and influenced children to pursue this kind of behavior so that they can be recruited as future employees... well, let's just say that the courts don't look kindly on that kind of business model.

- It's not far-fetched to think that there's a class-action suit around the corner. If that happens, the financial consequences are going to be painful -- both in terms of the immediate payout, and in terms of what it means for future liabilities.

- The final end result of litigation is reasonably likely to be a precedent that the NFL cannot knowingly put its players in a position of sustaining avoidable brain injury simply to pad their own profits. That's a fairly common standard for any industry. That means the NFL is in a position to either eliminate head contact entirely (think of what a football game would look like without ANY head contact), or argue in court that brain injury is a completely unavoidable consequence of playing football. Either way...

- Once a ball starts rolling like this, it's hard to stop. Look at how baseball has been dragged through the mud over steroids. The same thing is likely to be the case in regard to head injuries in football. The news cycle alone could be devastating for marketing and PR purposes, never mind secondary consequences in recruiting and whatnot.

That's exactly the point. It's not that football is actually going to "die" and go away. It's that the success of football is largely tied up in hyper-masculinity and violence. Watching a bunch of guys in Marvin the Martian helmets playing a game where linemen can only make contact with their hands and form-tackles are the only form of defense... that's just really not a marketing dream. It would be kind of effete, which is the opposite of what Americans want to watch (ref: soccer as a spectator sport).

That's where the "death spiral" comes into play. Depending on how these medical studies and court cases play out, we may be in a situation where the NFL has no choice but to water down the product to an unappealing level. If that happens, the illusion of the NFL as the domain of invincible cartoonish super-men disappears. Ratings drop. Revenues drop. Advertising starts to wane. People start getting interested in some random sport we haven't even thought of yet. The spiral is tough to break once it begins.

Looking at, I have no doubt that the NFL is already thinking of these potential outcomes. They have the word "evolution" right in the title, with "Forever Forward, Forever Football" as the catch phrase. Tell me that isn't an organization getting ready to make substantial changes to its product, and concerned about how customers will perceive the shift to a new style.

Spot on, I'd also like to add the steroid scandal had little to do with side effects of the drug that are actually proven and had far more focus on hysteria.

The fact that head trauma is proven really is a death spiral.

You gotta think of it simply from a networks perspective, if you feel your forced into paying for broadcast right merely to keep your network relevant wouldn't you have more than an active interest in making the sport to appear as a bloodsport.

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