July 13, 2012

Fantasy football in the age of CTE: So, here's the deal: for the past five years, I've run my (small) company's fantasy football league. It's become something of an office institution, with two annual trophies (the championship trophy and the Toilet Bowl) that get passed on to each season's champions, with a new plaque with their names. We have a lot of fun with it. I'm just not so sure that I can continue to have fun, given what we're learning about CTE.

I'm not interested in getting into a debate about whether CTE caused Junior Seau to kill himself, or about whether his career as a football player caused the CTE. It's enough for me to know that former professional football players seem to be showing up with a lot of CTE, and that CTE's effects are profoundly crippling (not to mention the other ailments that ex-NFLers are prone to). It's enough for me to know that this happens and that the NFL is soft-pedaling it, when (as I see it) the only ethical course of action would be to pursue it as aggressively and discuss it as fully and publicly as possible. I can't make the NFL do the right thing, but I can refuse to give my support to them as they do the wrong thing. Withdrawal of fan support over this issue is the only thing that will cause the NFL to take it seriously.

Accordingly, I'm thinking about resigning my commissionership this year, and announcing my reasons why to my league. I'll hand it over to anyone who wants to run it, but to be honest, I think that once I speak up about it, no one is going to feel ok going ahead with it. I don't want to be the Ruiner of Fun, but I don't feel ok just starting up the league as if nothing is wrong.

One alternative that has occurred to me is to charge would-be players $20 to join the league, and donate the money to an organization such as PAST (see the link) that unlike the NFL, is actually doing something about CTE. I don't know much about PAST, though (like whether they're actually doing any good). I also don't know if there are other organizations that are either helping former athletes directly, or working on the NFL to change policies. So, this was all a rather long-winded way of asking: does anybody out there know more about organizations that are doing something to address the issue of CTE and other health problems in ex-NFL players?


posted by lil_brown_bat to fantasy at 10:26 PM - 5 comments

And parenthetically, what's with the shitty formatting?

posted by lil_brown_bat at 10:27 PM on July 13, 2012

Fixed. Not sure what happened there.

I'm not aware of any CTE-related charities. The Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy takes donations.

posted by rcade at 09:48 AM on July 14, 2012

The only charity I can think of is Ditka's Gridiron Greats.

posted by bperk at 05:19 PM on July 16, 2012

bperk, thanks, but I thought Ditka's charity turned out to be an ineffective flim-flam?

posted by lil_brown_bat at 05:17 PM on July 18, 2012

In my experience in these things if you say you are doing these things for altruistic reasons you may still get people who think you are making a moral decision for them. So my opinion is that if you decide not to run it to just say you don't have time and leave it at that. But I don't know your group. Good luck.

posted by scully at 07:47 PM on July 22, 2012

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