Ed Cunningham should be applauded for his Howard Cosell moment. Cunningham went one step further than Cosell ever did. Cunningham, who provided analysis on college football games on Disney’s ESPN programs, quit his job because he did not want to be in the cheerleader’s spot pushing a game that he played on the highest level and then spoke about professionally.
Cunningham thinks football is broken. Cosell walked away from his job as a boxing announcer at ABC in 1982 and called for the banning of boxing. But Cosell stayed on at ABC. Cunningham is just walking away from the well-paying job and the sport. “In its current state, there are some real dangers,” Cunningham said. “Broken limbs, wear and tear. But the real crux of this is that I just don’t think the game is safe for the brain. To me, it’s unacceptable.”
Ten years ago, Cunningham had an interesting observation about his job telling a New York Times reporter, “Announcers are part of the industrial complex of college football, and I think we’ve turned a blind eye toward the violence — we have to protect these kids.”
The industrial complex of college football, a Cunningham term, starts with the college or university presidents, chancellors, and boards of trustees. They run the industrial complex of college football and remain very protective of the industry. Those are the people who won’t pay players. Those are the people who are not looking after the long term health of players. College football has not seen any real class action lawsuit by former players regarding the brain damage issue. The players are just cannon fodder.
Ed Cunningham’s stance is remarkable but there won’t be any change until those in charge, the presidents, chancellors and trustees decide to do something.
By Evan Weiner For The Politics Of Sports Business
This article was republished with permission from the original publisher, Evan Weiner.