A recent ESPN “Outside the Lines” investigation revealed an existential threat to football: the disappearing insurance market. From the NFL to Pop Warner, leagues, schools, and teams spend large sums of money on general liability insurance. With greater concern over traumatic brain injury, insurance companies are raising prices on premiums or pulling out of the market altogether.
Insurance representatives have likened traumatic brain injury with asbestos-induced lung disease, in that symptoms can lie dormant for decades. As long as former players are still living (and even after their death should their brain show signs of CTE), insurance companies are on the hook for any lawsuits.
Leagues have had to shut down and schools have had to cancel football programs as they cannot afford the higher premiums. The NFL has the revenue to survive, but the question is for how long? It no longer has general liability insurance for head trauma, and only one company offers teams workman’s compensation insurance.
Thomas “Buddy” Bardenwerper is an Entertainment Highlight Contributor for the Harvard Journal of Sports and Entertainment Law and a current first year student at Harvard Law School (Class of 2021)