Concussion Lawsuits – Are the Floodgates about to open in the MMA World?

This weekend one more sports associated concussion lawsuit has hit the media.  This time  its the NHL making headlines.

The household of late enforcer, Derek Boogaard, has filed a wrongful death insurance claim against the NHL arguing the league is accountable for brain damage the feared competitor sustained in his years playing expert hockey.  He had at least 66 on ice fights in his expert career.

Such lawsuits are becoming more commonplace in the world of expert sports.  These lawsuits are frequently grounded in the theory that sports organizations enable athletes to contend while undermining or concealing the danger of injury.  So what does this have to do with MMA?  It is likely a foreshadowing of things to come.  More importantly, it is a great chance to get ahead of a prospective issue for the betterment of the sport.

The NHL as well as NFL are mature leagues with a lengthy history.  There are generations of retired athletes with long term data to draw from comparing these athletes to retired members of the general population.  One pattern that is ending up being clearer is that of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy as well as its connection to long term involvement in get in touch with sports.  Athletes who experience repetitive brain trauma over their careers have a higher possibility of establishing this degenerative disease.   The connection of brain dysfunction as well as exposure to repeated sub-concussive trauma is also becoming better understood. As the long term health and wellness of more retired athletes is studied, a higher comprehending of this pattern occurs.

While there is clearly homework to be done in terms of this link as well as MMA, the one thing the UFC as well as other MMA organizations can discover from these lawsuits is to get ahead of the curve.  There is nothing to gain by taking an ostrich approach to brain trauma.  Instead MMA leagues should take meaningful steps to acknowledge these dangers head on as well as motivate their athletes to discover about the full understood dangers that include participation.  As retired Canadian MMA competitor Nick Denis demonstrated, not all fighters Camiseta Selección de fútbol de Alemania agree to bring on with a career in MMA after discovering of the risks.  Failing to facilitate athlete’s appreciation of CTE as well as other long term consequences not only undermines informed participation, it can likewise lead to the legal troubles that are now plaguing the NHL as well as NFL.

Dana White, president of the UFC, has, to Camiseta Selección de fútbol de Costa Rica his credit, done much for the growth of MMA as well as aiding in the development of its regulatory framework.  However, in the process the ordinary speaking promoter has made some foolish representations along the lines of MMA being the ‘safest sport in the world’.  This hyperbole can be forgiven by the typical fan who comprehends that Dana is speaking from a wish to help the growth of the sport as well as refuting political resistance such as the well used ‘human cockfighting’ soundbite.  Such reckless statements, however, can have an unintended effect in the legal context if a competitor who is diagnosed with CTE turns to legal action.

Organizations will be finest served by not undermining these risks.  Concussive injury should not be downplayed as it was by the flippant mindset shown to Matt Mitrione in deal with of his voiced concussive concerns in season 10 of TUF.  While this may have produced much better ratings, motivating an mindset which undermines concussive injuries is not in the long term interests of athletes nor MMA organizations.  If this attitude is pervasive in the organization there might be unwanted legal repercussions down the road.  Stake holders should not wait on the legal floodgates to open before addressing this issue.


Update – may 14, 2013 – Jonathan Snowden authored a fantastic article published today at Bleacher report breaking down the terms of the UFC’s proposed contract with Eddie Alvarez which was disclosed in the program of litigation.  Of specific rate of interest on the problem of brain injury risk, the waiver clause is worth reviewing where the Dana White, in behalf of Zuffa, labels MMA as an “inherently as well as abnormally dangerous activity” under article XIV of the contract which provides the complying with waiver:


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