Pop Warner reached a settlement with the mother of a former player who committed suicide after developing Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). The player, Joseph Chernach, played Pop Warner football as a child from 1997 to 2000. He had a successful academic career and remained in athletics until the effects of the numerous prior concussions caught up with him. For Joseph, that was in his sophomore year of college.
CTE is a unique syndrome. The most daunting side effects do not present themselves until years after the damage has been done. CTE puts people at great risk of developing Alzheimer’s, Dementia, Depression and other degenerative brain disorders. Think of famous people like Joe Louis, Chris Benoit and Junior Seau. All of them seemed fine while they were at the height of their fame and only years later did they change.
Pop Warner has settled the suit with Joseph’s mother for an undisclosed amount of money but they aren’t off the hook yet. This is not the only legal heat Pop Warner is facing for negligence on the field. A California teen is now a quadriplegic after tackling with his head, a technique he was allegedly taught to use by his coach.
The coach did not complete the required online training before beginning his season and no one stopped him from coaching. It is hard to imagine he is the only one who slipped through the cracks.
What is the Likely Outcome?
It is difficult to say whether Pop Warner will face the onslaught of lawsuits the National Football League (NFL) has been dealing with over the past few years. Pop Warner has not had the same access to various brain injury research studies that the NFL has, but Pop Warner is in a unique position because they deal exclusively with children. The courts have allowed parents and children to sue Pop Warner for negligence so a class action is not out of the question if there has been widespread negligence.
Pop Warner is likely going to put coaches through more vigorous training. They may require more in person education and fewer online certifications. It is possible to see medical professionals trained in evaluating head injuries at practices and games. Hopefully, whatever change comes about will make the game safer for children who play.