Could More Be Done to Protect Injured College Athletes?
Kosta Karageorge, a 22-year-old OSU football player, was found dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound in a Columbus dumpster on November 30, 2014. While still a developing story, it is known that Karageorge sent his mother a text message shortly before being reported missing. The text message indicated that Karageorge was suffering from complications related to past concussions.
If Karageorge had treatment options, such as screenings for permanent damage caused by concussions, or workers benefits for his role on the football team, then perhaps his story would not have ended in such a tragic manner. The NCAA has always been adamant that its players are not employees, despite practicing for 50-60 hours per week, making their schools millions of dollars in profit and only eating and sleeping dependent on coach’s orders.
The National Labor Relations Board ruled against the NCAA’s opinion earlier this year when it declared that athletes at Northwestern University in Illinois are employees under federal law and thus are able to unionize and to petition for workers’ compensation.
With how often athletes suffer injuries, especially traumatic brain injuries that can lead to dementia or chronic traumatic encephalopathy, it is understandable that they would want extra protection. From the other side, with the likelihood of injury, one does not have to look too far to see why the NCAA cannot stand the idea of having to treat its players as employees – there is no money in that.
Karageorge could have had options. If he had been offered care based on injuries sustained while making his school millions, then this tragedy might never have occurred.
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Did You Know? 76 out of 79 studied brains from deceased NFL players were found to have chronic traumatic encephalopathy.