SportsProf

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Monday, August 06, 2007

The Economics and Risks of Football or

I wonder what the "Freakonomics" guys would say about the average NFL career, the costs of the health problems of the average NFL retiree, the longevity of that retiree, the cost of elder care, etc. I'm thinking aloud and mixing a few concepts, but I would love to see a study as to whether the risks of long-term health problems and financial burdens are worth the rewards that some get in terms of big contracts and endorsements. For some, the answer is obvious. The question, though, is for how many?

What's the average career? What's the average salary? What is the average injury profile? The average traumatic injury profile? The average profile for problems with joints, neck and spine? The average costs for that care -- for those who qualify for union benefits and those who don't (presumably because they didn't play long enough)? What's the type of post-football career these guys enjoy? How many former players will be able to live healthy, productive lives 10-20 years after leaving the game?

Frankly, the NFL Players' Association should commission a consultant to dig heavily into this issue so that they can advocate for better money and benefits in the next contract. Sure, the owners have a lot of leverage and the players probably won't walk out, but they might get the court of public opinion on their side if they put out statistics that shows that society and the NFL don't take good care of their gladiators post-career. In fact, it would be wise for the NFL itself to conduct this type of study so that it can get a handle on the problem and propose prophylactic measures that do the right thing.

There are a lof of metrics to measure, and there is a lot of data to collect, but it's well worth it. Football is a collision sport, and it hurts. People play hurt, players don't want to lose their jobs, and you have big people banging into each other. The public loves it, but the collisions cost those who play the game. Quality of life, careers, money, mobility. And from recent articles, it doesn't seem that the game or the players' union can afford to take care of the old-timers the way they should.

Do the study, gather the data, and then share it with the public. The data, I believe, won't be pretty, and it will reveal that for many players, the risks aren't worth the rewards.

3 Comments:

Blogger Ethan said...

It seems as though a lot of NFL players support large networks of family and friends. I think that any analysis that tried to determine whether or not it is "worth it" would have to include benefits that get distributed across this group. People go into all kinds of dangerous professions in order to support their families. Are the health risks any greater in the NFL than in coal mining for example? Certainly the rewards are much greater.
Also, I doubt the "average" approach to this issue would yield anything useful. The "average" NFL player probably plays less than a season's worth of actual regular season games in the course of their career. They may not even play the equivalent of one game's worth of downs.

10:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the force that would trump all the rest is the average salary of an nfl player makes after he leaves the nfl. Players get good medical when they leave, too. At least I believed that was the case.

9:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Even those without recognizeable names do well in the private sector. Many respect their ability to compete on such a high level.

9:48 AM  

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