The ongoing death of football?

From the NFL to rec leagues, football is facing a stark, new threat: an evaporating insurance market that is fundamentally altering the economics of the sport, squeezing and even killing off programs faced with higher costs and a scarcity of available coverage, an Outside the Lines investigation has found.

The NFL no longer has general liability insurance covering head trauma, according to multiple sources; just one carrier is willing to provide workers’ compensation coverage for NFL teams. Before concussion litigation roiled the NFL beginning in 2011, at least a dozen carriers occupied the insurance market for pro football, according to industry experts.

The insurance choices for football helmet manufacturers are equally slim; one helmet company executive said he was aware of only one. Pop Warner Little Scholars, which oversees 225,000 youth players, was forced to switch insurers after its longtime carrier, a subsidiary of the insurance giant AIG, refused to provide coverage without an exclusion for any neurological injury.

“People say football will never go away, but if we can’t get insurance, it will,” Jon Butler, Pop Warner’s executive director, lamented to colleagues after discovering that just one carrier was willing to cover the organization for head trauma, according to a person who was present.

Here is the full ESPN article.  It is substantive throughout, a very good piece, and hockey and soccer are having insurance troubles too.

Via John Chamberlain.

Comments

I would guess making heading the ball in soccer illegal (like using hands) wouldn't make too much of a difference to that game - probably headers are only 10% or less of passes. But American Football would have much more trouble adapting.

Corner kicks, set pieces, and plays that involve headers are among the most exciting parts of soccer. The rest of a soccer game is mind numbingly boring. It would make a huge difference.

To mitigate this effect you can offer a corner kick much closer to the goal cage, extend the penalty area on the sides,...

Allow a clenched hands punch above the head instead of a header.

Only God and Maradona are allowed to cheat in that manner.

Without heads you can expect more goals than less as defenders play more heads than strikers.

I'm not aware of a single serious injury from heading the ball in soccer

That's because you live somewhere that doesn't have Google.

Here:

https://www.google.com/search?client=firefox-b-1&q=soccer+concussions

I thought that heading the ball is pretty low risk, it is just when more than one player tries to head the ball and heads collide that causes the concussions.

Those don't count?

I remember seeing something about this a couple of years ago when the CTE thing was just coming into the news (can't seem to find it now), but around 1/5 of all goals are headers.

I can't say what would happen to goal totals if heading were disallowed, but I imagine they would go down by more than a fifth since teams would no longer have to worry about defending those plays.

You can play with heavier balls if you forbid heads. That would mitigate the effect and more goals by long shots.

The siggestion was to allow punching the ball instead of headers. Likely a slight increase in goals because the goalkeeper would lose an advantage.

Interesting question, but I have serious doubts that football fans in Alabama are just going to move on (within my lifetime at least). People will find away to play and watch. Has there been any other sports that died because the cost of insurance was too high? People like to mention boxing, but I'm not sure violence had much to do with its decline. MMA is extremely popular and you rarely hear a peep from anybody about how dangerous it is.

The change will be gradual, but we'll probably get to the point where high schools and even colleges ban football. There probably will be an market for pro football for the foreseeable future, but with a much smaller talent pool.

I think pay-per-view was a big factor in the decline of boxing. I remember watching big fights on ABC in the 70s. Afterwards, you needed to spend a fortune so it lost a lot of mainstream appeal.

Again, this would be such a radical development in the south that I find it hard to believe it'll happen. It could, for sure, but I'm doubtful. It's kind of like climate change, plenty of people will keep on ignoring the science- and yes I think this includes parents with kids who want to play football.

I'm from the South and always dreamed of having a son who played football. It took me a long time to finally have a boy so I'll be on Medicare when he's in high school. Wouldn't want him joining me on Medicare (for disabilities) before his time. But, yeah, if he told me he was named starting QB, my first reaction would be joy. My second would be that it's not worth it unless he's about as talented as Tom Brady.

Lawsuits could very well kill HS and College Football. I agree that social pressure won't be enough.

'where high schools and even colleges ban football'

You mean the way so many high schools and even colleges ban lacrosse or rugby or crew today?

Not offering a sport to play as an extracurricular activity is not the same as banning it.

rephrased for morons, " high schools and even colleges will cease offering football after many decades.."

Sorry for saying "morons" but nitpickers can be really annoying.

I'd have to say, myself, that Clockwork's comment goes well beyond nitpicking to make an unfortunately necessary point. Consider, for example, how often we've heard assertions like: "not providing free health care = denying access to health care". MA's use of the word "ban" certainly looked like the same kind of assertion.

Yeah, but how many parents are "OK" letting their sons (and daughters) box? Lose the large end of the funnel (the youth leagues) and it's questionable how large the fan audience will be 20-40 years later.

The real reason sports is dying because of toxic liberals who hate competition, excellence, winning, and masculinity. They are fascists.

-1

I consider myself far-right, but even I wouldn't let my kid play concussionball.

+1

not sure how the math works out here...

+1 Each indentation is a set of brackets. Your comment is -1(1). Mine is -1(1(1))

Super-lib here, love to compete, win, excel--just want to give other folks a fair shot to do the same! (And of course that means staying away from brain injury, although I love to put on gloves and hit the heavy bag.) See you at the bar at the 21 Club, Sunny B, I'll buy you an old fashioned!

So poor black people who would otherwise become rich on fat NFL salaries are now doomed to live sad lives in the ghetto. You are so generous!

But for every Brady and Cox — and players such as Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, who will earn $26.5 million in salary and bonuses — there are hundreds of players making the NFL minimum based on their years of experience. This season, that was $465,000 for first-year players.

It’s a high wage, but in a league that features an average career length of fewer than three years, players, agents and executives say it is not true that all NFL players are rich.

And I'm sure you know best on how to weigh the benefits with the risks. Such a decision should not be entrusted to the people who actually live it. They are after all stupid poor people.

Not me. I think insurance companies and lawyers will be entrusted with the decision.

$465,000 would be about ten year's worth of a starting labor job. If they stay three years, that's nearly $1.4 million. Invested wisely, that's enough to carry them for many years, especially if supplemented by post-football employment. I would like to see a basic financial management class mandatory for college-scholarship sports players.

$1.4 million gross. Now take out agent fees, salaries, and oh yeah you have to consume some of it. So maybe $500K to invest, if you're lucky?

Most NFL players end up bankrupt or poor. Facts.

NFL players receive a pension of $5,640 per month for every year of service starting at age 55.

So, while they might be bankrupt, a 3 year player still has a $200K+ per year pension and they can retire more than a decade before most Americans.

https://www.investopedia.com/financial-edge/0710/top-pro-athlete-pension-plans.aspx

Let's look at the math. In 2018, 256 players were drafted by the NFL. Let's assume that they were all poor black kids, and that they all became rich on fat NFL salaries, which they wisely and prudently invested against the day they could no longer play football.

I can't immediately find a breakdown of free-lunch students by race and grade for the U.S., so let's take a medium-large city (Omaha, population 400,000) and extrapolate. In Omaha, in the 2006-07 school year, there were 4,096 black males in K-12 who qualify for free-or-reduced-price lunch, so an average of 315 per grade. Extrapolating to the 2005 population of the U.S., we get about 230,000 reduced-lunch black males per grade.

In other words, even with these optimistic assumptions, the likelihood that a poor black high-school boy will be set on the road to prosperity by an NFL career is about 0.1%.

I can't cite numbers, but when I was tutoring math in a low-income middle school, a lot more than 0.1% of the students told me that there was no need for them to learn pre-algebra, because they were going to get filthy rich as sports heroes.

I have a friend who played college football at a top school, is tough as nails and won't let his obviously talented son play football. I'm fine with making fun of wimpy liberals, but destroying your kids' brain isn't the best way to go about it.

Yes, a simple look at the numbers would probably indicate that playing tackle football isn't a good idea. Look at the number of kids that played in high school or below, and then the number that get scholarships to play in college, and then the number that make it into the pros, and then those that make a fairly large amount in the pros.

Then balance those who made the pros with the fact that close to 100 percent of pro football players who have donated their brains to science have been found to have chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

This. The issue isn't competition or hating winning, it is a cost/benefit analysis. You get to win a few games, but you scramble your brains and have as much of a shot at the pros as you do of winning the lottery. Trading long-term health for short-term fun is seldom a good investment.

Does your van have a "CNN Sucks" sticker on it?

Dear SunnyB, just setup your insurance company and help those kids. Or, do you want the government to hedge the risk instead of private business?

Ps, it's not the "liberals". If you need to blame someone, go for the parents of dead kids :

" In Washington state, the family of a high school football player who suffered a catastrophic brain injury won a $5 million settlement after arguing that coaches violated the Lystedt Law, "

Fair enough to the parents. The kid should have been benched if suspected to have a concussion. My son had a mild concussion freshman year in HS. They pulled him right away and we saw a doctor. It was right at the end of the season and we he was playing lacrosse too. He had to decide between the two anyways so he went with lacrosse.

OT: Recently I started using Tinder and I'm wondering, what's with all these Christ-thots? Tinder is an unlikely place to meet a good Christian boy, and these girls commonly have pics with visible tattoos, piercings, and slutware, and gansta rap in their Spotify link. Yet they find it necessary to us they're "Christian," wtf?

Getting involved with a non-believer and converting them with the power of your love is the Evangelical version of the Disney princess fairytale.

That reminds me of a lot of deleted comments about David Brooks conversion to Christianity.

Rowing, polo, racquets, skiing, parachuting, and sailing are all much more fun for the players, and most of these are excellent for teamwork. Football matters most to the lives of fat older men who hang around drinking beer watching the sport when they should be outside taking excersise. Civilization will not advance until the ghastly sport of footbal, in all its revolting forms, os eliminated. It is part of the cause of Trump and non-Brexit. High five oh to the insurance industry. No one in insurance middle management watches football while drinking beer, I’m sure.

Well said. I think we also have to give credit to the trial attorneys, whose lawsuits force insurance companies to drop their coverage. They are the true angels in this story.

Not mentioned here is the de-facto absolute prohibition on any adult signing a waiver for head injuries.

It's an article of deep faith on the political left and in the media that everyone is too stupid to sign such contracts.

+1

Best comment on the thread.

I assumed that this would be path forward for adults that wanted to play and was taken aback by the NFL being affected.

What blocks this?

I was wondering this all the way through the article. How could they not even address this?

Do waivers really prevent lawsuits? That would be strange for lawyers to let something they invented stand in their way.

It's not the political left saying the mostly minority players are stupid.

For crying out loud, put it back in the deck!

The trial bar left and their media catamites have made it legally impossible to sign waivers for large swaths of risky behavior. This effects everyone.

At the rate we're going with risk paranoia, crash helmets on all minor children car passengers will be mandated.

Always about race with some folks. White players also are well know to be offensive linemen, not the brightest bulbs on the team. Either way, it would be the dimmer bulbs that do the best in the risk/reward calculation. If msgkings allows them to make that calculation.

You underestimate how many young men like athletic contests that involve running fast and hitting other young men.

Why soccer?

Because of the concussion risk when players head the ball.

There was a time when Americans had no fear of concussions. To the point Mr. Boris Sidis harshly criticized the influence of football at American universities. But now Americans are afraid and desperate, a nation of dwarves under the shadow cast by generations of giants.

This is really a symptom of the failing of the insurance "industry" to address the needs of its customers worldwide. They try to write policies that never need to pay out, although obviously they don't totally succeed. Insurance agents bombard customers with lengthy legal documents they have to sign, but it would take someone with both a law degree and an actuarial degree to fully understand the implications of these documents.

To be fit for purpose insurance policies should be "all risk", but of course they will be more expensive. The providers are not charities or selfless dedicated idealists, but it ought to be possible to calculate premiums on an all risk basis and charge accordingly. If customers can't afford the insurance, then they should cease the activity (or get a smaller house, car or whatever.)

"If customers can't afford the insurance, then they should cease the activity". Yes, that is exactly what is going to happen.

At least make insurance a service worth having and not just a pissing competition as to who can afford the best legal representation.

This is really a symptom of the failing of the insurance "industry" to address the needs of its customers worldwide.

You should start a new insurance company that focuses purely on insuring football teams then.

Since it's so easy and all the other insurers are running away for no reason, you'll make a fortune.

I thought we already figured out how to create affordable insurance. Just make it illegal for insurers to "discriminate" against people that have the pre-existing condition of being a football player. Then, require everyone to buy head trauma insurance whether or not they play football. Finally, have the government subsidize head trauma insurance for those that can't afford it. Problem solved. [\sarcasm]

I thought we already figured out how to make football great again. Just build a big wall in the middle of the stadium and put the darker players on one side and light skin players on the other side. Separate the darker players from their kids and deny them both food and water until some of them die. Problem solved.[\sarcasm]

BC's analogy is spot on while yours is gratuitous and deceptive at its heart

lol, BC. Too bad you needed to put a \sarcasm tag on it, but I understand. The same people who this 1984 is a guide would run with your proposal.

Ugh, sorry "The same people who think 1984 is a guide..."

ftfy: Finally, have the government [redistribute wealth] to subsidize head trauma insurance for those that can't afford it.

Then call the payment for such mandatory insurance a tax, or a fine, or a fee, or...

Bigger stories ignored here are (a) the ongoing war on men on all fronts (b) the permeation of the culture by the lawsuit mentality and (c) the left-wing failing ESPN. They have lost 14 million subscribers in the last 7+ years.

I couldn't agree more with Rich Berger about "lawsuit mentality". Lawyers are stopping other people doing their jobs properly.
Many stockbrokers are now refusing to give "execution only" clients investment advice because of the fear of being sued. This is despite the fact that stock market gains are the price that is paid for taking risk.
Health care workers now fear lawyers and practise "defensive medicine" and subject patients to unpleasant, expensive and invasive tests "just to be sure". The AMA famously debated a motion that their members would refuse to treat lawyers or their families. It didn't pass, but it did make a point, which I think was the intention.

The public are in part to blame because when anything goes wrong they bombard their elected representatives with a demand "there should be a law against that".

Lawmakers themselves are getting in a real mess. "The Wall" in the USA is an example, as is Brexit in the EU. They as are most of us are unable to comprehend the complexity of the law.

In "The Bible" they had ten laws, later reduced to two. Maybe some sort of reduction in complexity is the only way to go if civilisation is to survive.

Anthropologist Joseph Tainter analyzes this very phenomenon in his book, The Collapse of Complex Societies.

According to Tainter's Collapse of Complex Societies, societies become more complex as they try to solve problems. Social complexity can be recognized by numerous differentiated and specialised social and economic roles and many mechanisms through which they are coordinated, and by reliance on symbolic and abstract communication, and the existence of a class of information producers and analysts who are not involved in primary resource production. Such complexity requires a substantial "energy" subsidy (meaning the consumption of resources, or other forms of wealth).

When a society confronts a "problem," such as a shortage of energy, or difficulty in gaining access to it, it tends to create new layers of bureaucracy, infrastructure, or social class to address the challenge. Tainter, who first (ch. 1) identifies seventeen examples of rapid collapse of societies, applies his model to three case studies: The Western Roman Empire, the Maya civilization, and the Chaco culture.

For example, as Roman agricultural output slowly declined and population increased, per-capita energy availability dropped. The Romans "solved" this problem by conquering their neighbours to appropriate their energy surpluses (in concrete forms, as metals, grain, slaves, etc.). However, as the Empire grew, the cost of maintaining communications, garrisons, civil government, etc. grew with it. Eventually, this cost grew so great that any new challenges such as invasions and crop failures could not be solved by the acquisition of more territory.

Intense, authoritarian efforts to maintain cohesion by Domitian and Constantine the Great only led to an ever greater strain on the population. The empire was split into two halves, of which the western soon fragmented into smaller units. The eastern half, being wealthier, was able to survive longer, and did not collapse but instead succumbed slowly and piecemeal, because unlike the western empire it had powerful neighbors able to take advantage of its weakness.

It is often assumed that the collapse of the western Roman Empire was a catastrophe for everyone involved. Tainter points out that it can be seen as a very rational preference of individuals at the time, many of whom were actually better off. Tainter notes that in the west, local populations in many cases greeted the barbarians as liberators.

The funny thing is that I totally agree with all three points you make IN GENERAL, but not as it applies to boys playing football. It's simply too dangerous and damaging to justify. A million boys play high school football. That's a lot of brain damage for our entertainment.

There is very little damage at the HS level, it's really some in college, and most of it in the Pros. At these levels, especially the Pros, these are adults now. Many jobs have their risks, and if you are a real contender for the pros, the risk/reward equation is pretty nice.

"There is very little damage at the HS level, it's really some in college, and most of it in the Pros."

I assume you're talking about brain damage, not general body damage (e.g., knees and backs...not to mention hearts later in life from bulking up)?

Yes.

It's been said that if there was a disease that crippled as many teen-age boys as high school football does, billions would be spent trying to find a cure for it.

"if there was a disease that crippled as many teen-age boys as high school football does"

You mean puberty?

"A single season of high school football may be enough to cause microscopic changes in the structure of the brain, according to a new study by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The researchers used a new type of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to take brain scans of 16 high school players, ages 15 to 17, before and after a season of football. They found significant changes in the structure of the grey matter in the front and rear of the brain, where impacts are most likely to occur, as well as changes to structures deep inside the brain. All participants wore helmets, and none received head impacts severe enough to constitute a concussion."

https://medicalxpress.com/news/2018-11-high-school-football-teenage-brain.html

Their brain damage was caused by listening to coaches.

Sigh. The "let's blame ESPN" trope is tired. The main reason ESPN has lost subscribers because *cable* has lost subscribers. ESPN's streaming service, by contrast, hit its first 1M subscribers in five months post-launch. There's a lot more we could get into with respect to factors like increased competition for more diverse sports, rights to different leagues/events, etc. and so on. Y'know, market forces. And if there's a cultural story here, it really has to do with the professionalization of football itself, and the death of the 'everyman' culture - even the NFL acknowledges (https://operations.nfl.com/the-players/evolution-of-the-nfl-player/) that, thanks to year-round training, specialization, and a support system that begins at the youth level, players today have more body mass, strength, and speed than in past decades, especially among linemen. The sheer force of the game has probably gone up faster than the ability to protect the head against that force (although we can't know for certain, since concussion data hasn't been public for that long).

I find ESPN's hardcore social liberalism to be annoying, but it's not going to prevent me from watching the few sporting events that I find interesting. My ill will towards ESPN won't show up in any metrics in the near future, but it's never smart to piss off your customers.

I'd argue that football's multitudinous rules and excessive reliance on officiating contributing to the legalistic mindset of the typical US ciitzen. Compare a rugby match with a football game. The latter seems like a day in court with all the calls, fouls, and endless control compared to rugby where players play and officials are much less frequently involved. The US love of authoritarianism is very much reflected in its sports.

It's weird that Americans are the world's idiots and yet their favorite sport is indecipherable to the rest of the world.

Football (and contact sports generally) may well be limited to states that will enforce a broad form of waiver (of liability). I say "broad" form of waiver because many states have limitations on the enforceability of a waiver, such as not enforcing the waiver in the case of negligence. Lawyers created this dilemma (of insurability) with lawsuits and lawyers can solve the dilemma with carefully drawn waivers. Would I be willing to draft the broad form of waiver? Would my malpractice carrier be willing to indemnify me if the court refused to enforce the waiver? If malpractice insurers refuse to cover professional liability arising from a sports league waiver, would lawyers still be willing to draft them?

Much of the work lawyers do is described as "risk allocation". In the case of the sports injury waiver, the allocation is to the poor sap who suffers a brain (or any other) injury playing sports.

I am assuming the football players would be willing to sign a broad form of waiver. After all, people are willing to work for Donald Trump in his administration notwithstanding the known and expected damage to reputation.

"such as not enforcing the waiver in the case of negligence"

WTF are you waiving if not claims for negligence? You have no basis for a suit if there's no negligence. Do you mean gross negligence?

Sounds like an awesome wedge issue for Trump. Propose legislation to prohibit players from suing Pop Warner/colleges/NFL for neurological injuries. It will seem fair to people, since just like smokers players know they are doing something risky.

It will never pass, of course, largely due to the stranglehold of trial lawyers on the Democratic party.

Trump can campaign in 2020 in purple states like Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania as the guy trying to keep the Dems and other various weenies from taking away football.

Where might the higher entertainment appeal reside?

--"watching" Netflix programming while blindfolded OR "watching" an NFL game blindfolded? (Extra points for the latter if both teams AND referees are playing and conducting the game blindfolded.)

Blindfolded astronomy, anyone? Photography?

(What otherwise unanticipated appeal might "VR blindness" have once our complicated algorithms can conjure virtual blindness?)

With multimillion dollar salaries and billions in revenue, I have a hard time believing there are no insurance companies willing to charge massive premiums that players and the league would accept. Tort liability is so much more expensive.

My F-I-L boxed in college. The NCAA sponsored collegiate boxing until 1960 when a death happened in a tournament. Amateur boxing of all types is in a steep decline as well as professional. Alternative combat sports are popular, but they are certainly less important than the days when Mohammed Ali was the most recognized face on earth. I think football will follow boxing into gradually fading away. Please note that I don’t necessarily think that this is good/bad.

I believe that the Boy Scouts are self-insured for many things. If the NFL is serious about keeping itself moving, self-insurance is basically the only way to go.

A telling example, inasmuch as, like various Catholic Church dioceses or orders, the Boy Scouts are busy going bankrupt as we speak due to their self-insurance's inability to cope with their rising tide of sex abuse lawsuits (multiple articles last month reported they were exploring Chapter 11).

The insurers who turned down BSUSA as a client are doubtless breathing a sigh of relief and consigning sex abuse to the same category as asbestos or tobacco, where head injuries are rapidly heading.

My understanding of the origins of the self-insurance policy are the hikes, camping trips, etc. the Scouts sponsor, and their attendant risk. The sex-abuse lawsuits came later.

So? They're still going bankrupt because they self-insured.

Is it possible to get insurance against sex-abuse claims? I sort of doubt it. Can you get insurance against claims of murder and rape?

You can get insurance for anything, at the right price. But that may not be a price you can pay. And yes, you can get insurance against those torts - or at least, you used to. I doubt the Catholic Church's insurers are eager to renew *those* particular policies without abuse exclusions...

Football has always been a bastardized inferior imitation of rugby. No great loss if it is erased. Same with baseball and cricket.

Baseball is superior to cricket, but there's no use arguing the point.

The first reference to "baseball" was in a 1744 poem about rounders.

"It was not very wonderful that Catherine, who had nothing heroic about her, should prefer cricket, base-ball, riding on horseback, and running about the country at the age of fourteen, to books."

-Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey, 1797

I'll argue anyway. Baseball may have the advantage of having shorter matches than test cricket, but the T20 format provides a distinct advantage in that categorty.

Switching to cricket might ameliorate the deepest character flaws of the American psyche that are produced by immersion in baseball. In cricket, the official does not make a call unless invoked to do so by a player. Thus individuals in cricket playing countries tend to be less servile and passive. No balls and strikes in cricket, and hence individuals in cricket playing countries tend to be less legalistic and reliant upon authority figures to run their lives. The basic rule of cricket is good sportsmanship and individuals in cricket playing countries tend to enjoy the experience of comraderie and social engagement much more frequently. Cricket involves 360 degrees of play, and hence individuals in cricket playing countries tend to have broader perspectives in general. Etc.

All false, unfortunately. Any comparison of commonwealth nations with baseball playing nations (the Americas, the far East) is bound to be shit.

No cheating by looking on the Internet (where I found this factoid)...

Any guesses for the weight range for All-State linemen in Texas in 2013? (This wasn't stated where I found the factoid, but I assume it's first-team all-state offensive linemen.)

I'm not sure what my available time will be in the next days, so.....(spoiler alert)......

...they ranged from 270 to 300 pounds in 2013. In 2017, the results are

Burnette 6' 3.5", 305 lb
Flanagan 5' 11", 292 lb
Jader (a junior, the rest are seniors) 6' 1", 260 lb
Rhyner 6' 2", 275 lb
White 6' 2.5", 304 lb

No fair that TC posts this without at least linking to his companion post from a bit earlier talking about hidden leverage in an organization.

Traumatic Brain Injury and associated issues of Alzheimers, Parkinson and neurodegen. issues are now know as a risk to those who play football at all levels. Known risk can be priced and dealt with via legal understanding of the concept of assumption of risk, hold harmless and exculpatory contract language as a few ways to address the issue. In short, the market will adjust to the changed reality and as long as fans are willing to pay to watch and advertisers are willing to pay dollars for viewers watching games, the sport is not going away.

Can't they just raise the price? I can't imagine negative selection should play a significant role at the level of "all NFL players"

There was an existential threat to American football in the early 1900s. It was banned in California universities, and the state switched to rugby. There was genuine consideration to a national ban, and in other states also. So, the rules of American football were changed to make it safer. Some of the old guys complained about it becoming soft, but the sport prospered. No reason the rules can't be changed again.

"“People say football will never go away, but if we can’t get insurance, it will,” Jon Butler, Pop Warner’s executive director,"

Because it would be unthinkable for a central organization covering teams and kids all across the country to form and manage a P&I (Protection and Indemnity) Club to pool the risk of open-ended losses.

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