| March 22, 2018

Column: Head-On Problem

October 13, 2016

With constant controversy swirling around the NCAA, it comes as no surprise when the organization faces a lawsuit.

This time, the case is much more serious and hits close to Idaho.

Former Idaho cornerback Antjuan Tolbert filed a lawsuit against the NCAA and Sun Belt conference in early October. He claimed the organizations did not do enough to prevent head injuries during his time at Idaho.

Tolbert now experiences symptoms of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE).

Tolbert is just one of many former athletes seeking to right the wrongs of the NCAA. Former players from over 17 schools filed suits this year.

Originally, CTE symptoms were most often seen in NFL players.

Former NFL safety David Duerson committed suicide in 2011. His brain was examined and found to be seriously damaged from his time playing football.

The problem is now found in college. Players who see a bright, lucrative future in the NFL, fail to understand the physical and mental consequences.

According to Tolbert’s official complaint, athletes can suffer over 1,000 hits to the head with a force of 10G’s to 100G’s.

ESPN reported a 32 percent rise in concussions during the NFL’s 2015 season. It only takes one look at Carolina quarterback Cam Newton’s wobbly walk into the end zone during his Oct. 2 game against Atlanta to realize the game is dangerous.

Players put their brains on the line for a win. The least a school can do is ensure head injuries do not become a widespread issue.

Children should be taught how to properly tackle, avoid spearheading an opponent and aim low. Some middle schools and high schools give students concussion tests at the beginning of the season, then monitor brain function throughout the year, in an attempt to see the impact on cognitive processes.

According to Tolbert’s complaint, Idaho did not have a complete concussion protocol until 2010, a standard that is now heavily enforced nation-wide.

Considering the NCAA refuses to pay players serving as a valuable commodity, it’s no surprise those players were neglected the proper care and treatment needed.

Tolbert is right to sue the NCAA and Sun Belt. He said during his time at Idaho, he suffered five concussions, with one requiring a hospital visit. That kind of trauma can have life-long debilitating effects on a person’s mind.

More former athletes need to take Tolbert’s lead. Even if the suits fail, voices are heard. The NCAA cannot ignore the dozens of former players forever. Schools thrive on future recruitment so a history of mistreating athletes will not the yield positive results.

Brandon Hill can be reached at arg-sports@uidaho.edu or on Twitter @brandonmtnhill

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