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.

Man Bites Gamecocks

Steve Spurrier is ticked that the University of South Carolina admissions office rejected a couple of his recruits.

According to the coach, the university's president is on his side.

Who's working for who here? The bet is that Spurrier makes more than President Andrew Sorensen.

Which begs the question -- which is better, the football team or the school? Okay, so that's not really fair, but what has more importance, the football team or the education of the average kid in South Carolina?

Slow news day anywhere except in the SEC, where football is almost a religion.

The entire story must be interesting. The implication from Spurrier's pique is that he wouldn't have offered the kids full rides if he thought they'd get rejected. Or, more significantly, that he had vibes that they'd get in. The Admissions Office, of course, cannot speak on the topic because of various legal restrictions, and it would be wise not to fight back. The reason: the head coach didn't get two prized recruits in, and that's all that matters to many.

But what really happened? Did the Admissions Office err in giving Spurrier a heads up? Or, were they applying standards that these kids' transcripts couldn't meet? Or did they simply take a proper stand that two kids didn't belong at South Carolina?

Wags who aren't from the Southeast would say, "Imagine that, a football recruit not getting admitted at an SEC school. How could that happen?"

Those who aren't wags, though, and who are diehards, probably say the exact same thing.

Reading in between the lines, you wonder whether coaches at the BCS conference schools believe that the only admissions standards are the NCAA minimum requirements. I get a sense that this could be the case with these two recruits at South Carolina, but the article doesn't go into sufficient detail. Spurrier seemed to say as much, and that makes you wonder who really runs the show at these schools.

Andrew Sorensen, what say you? Your head coach threw your admissions office under the bus. He implies that you agree with him.

Who's running the school, anyway?