College sports are a multibillion dollar industry, one in which student-athletes compete on a national stage and are treated like professionals as the colleges and universities they play for gain millions from lucrative TV contracts and ticket sales. Because so much is at stake, scandals often arise when schools are so desperate to win that they violate NCAA regulations in order to gain an edge or prevent a potential setback for their athletics program.
The NCAA is responsible for regulating college sports and looking out for the interests of student-athletes. However, the association has failed to develop a comprehensive policy regarding head injuries that occur during competition.
As more research continues to show the severe, life-long damage head injuries can cause, better management and an updated protocol must be put in place to ensure the health and safety of players. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell seems to understand this as the league’s policies regarding concussions have been strengthened, and teams that violate mandated procedures face financial penalties. The NCAA is still in the dark ages, providing only an ambiguous concussion policy and leaving a specific protocol, if any, to be determined by each school individually. As a result, players who suffer head injuries, which are most common in football, could be sent back into the game only plays later. Additionally, college football players, unlike their NFL counterparts, don’t get the benefits of a union, and there’s no mandated health care coverage for them either.
The NCAA is neglecting the health and safety of its athletes, many of whom are fresh out of high school. It should create a specific policy regarding how teams deal with head injuries and should mandate that every school provide its student-athletes with quality health care coverage.