An open letter to Mark Emmert, President of the University of WashingtonSeptember 16, 2010
As you know, the evidence is becoming clearer that football players have an increased risk of developing impact-related brain damage, which often becomes apparent after the players have retired. You may have seen former NFL tight end Nate Jackson’s post on Slate.com about how the football culture encourages behavior that is risky from a health standpoint. If not, I recommend it: http://www.slate.com/id/2266532/entry/2266549/.
In reading this article, I wondered to myself whether any meaningful changes will ever be made to the game such that players’ long-term health is better protected. And then it occurred to me that a really smart guy is about to start running the NCAA. Someone who understands the realities of the business side of football, but who also understands the importance of not abusing athletes for short-term gains. You.
I don’t know enough about football to know what rule changes would be most beneficial to players’ long-term health. I simply want to urge you think boldly when considering possible solutions. Perhaps if the NCAA shows leadership on this issue, the high schools and pros will follow suit. Wouldn’t it be great to leave the NCAA someday with a legacy of having reduced the risk of brain damage among current and future generations of players?
Gregory J. Crowther, Ph.D.
Department of Medicine
University of Washington