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Could a Local District Attorney Undo Youth Football?

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Photo: SHANNON STAPLETON/REUTERS

Here is an undeniable fact. The football industry feels it is under siege because do-gooders think football is hazardous to the people playing the game. Yet despite more and more evidence that playing football can and is causing brain damage from brain injuries suffered on the field whether in a game or practice, football’s popularity is high and parents continue to sign their children up for the sports.

More colleges are putting teams on the field. Even though people running the football industry are feeling somewhat threatened, TV networks have invested billions into the NFL and college football, municipalities in Texas have spent tens of millions of dollars on high school football stadiums, corporate marketing partners want to be associated with football and cities are still chasing NFL teams by throwing money at owners or giving owners incredible tax breaks and tax incentives to relocate their teams.

But what does scare the people who run the football industry? Dr. Bennet Omalu, speaking at the New York Press Club on Monday night, had the answer.

Dr. Bennet Omalu, left, recently received the 2016 Dr. Ernst Jokl Sports Medicine Award from the
United States Sports Academy, the Academy’s highest award in sports medicine. Photo: United States Sports Academy

A local district attorney filing child abuse charges in the event of a catastrophic injury to a child in a football game or practice. That has not happened yet. There is no suggestion that is going to happen at any time in the near future because it is understood that sports does not necessarily have to adhere to normal legalities. The sports industry can legislate itself.

But can youth leagues and local school boards fight a district attorney? That could present an untenable situation for children’s sports leagues if a district attorney decides to move ahead with charges.

Dr. Omalu is not liked by the football industry. He discovered CTE in the brain of Mike Webster during an autopsy and that finding has sent shock waves throughout the football business. The youth football industry’s worst nightmare might be a prosecutor.

By Evan Weiner For The Politics Of Sports Business

This article was republished with permission from the original publisher, Evan Weiner.

***Editor’s note: Dr. Bennet Omalu of Sacramento, Calif., earned the 2016 Dr. Ernst Jokl Sports Medicine Award from the United States Sports Academy. Omalu, a forensic pathologist and neuropathologist, conducted the autopsy of Pittsburgh Steelers center Mike Webster which led to his discovery of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, or CTE, in football players.***

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