Malcolm Gladwell: Should college football players sign a brain damage waiver?


In the last several years Malcolm Gladwell has been speaking quite frequently on the subject of the dangers of football. Most recently he gave a great talk at the University of Pennsylvania.

His claim is that the dangers in playing football are enormous. Gladwell discusses chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) and its connection to football players. He also reviews the flimsiness of the excuses defending college football. What fascinated me was Gladwell’s suggestion that every player, before they ever suit up for a college game, sign a variant of the contract I put at the top of the post. In fact, he said he’d withdraw every one of his complaints if colleges did this. Is this likely? Probably not.

The sad fact about college football is that for the current business model to succeed, we have to exist in a bubble where students are not treated as employees. Admitting dangers and having students agree to accountability is a “slippery slope” towards, you know, actually paying them! The current college football system exists fundamentally via exploitation. We are stealing the wealth, bodies and minds of our youth to make money for a select few. Gladwell wants us to face this head on, and I agree! The sad truth, which Malcolm’s talk confirms, is that it may take many more years and many more casualties before this happens.



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