Opinion, Berkeley Blogs

Stopping college football is a moral imperative

By Malcolm Potts

The University of California, Berkeley must stop systematically and irrevocably damaging the human brain. It is unethical. Cal should cease supporting American football.

Earlier this year we learned that 110 out of 111 former American football players had evidence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

Early last week we learned that young boys playing American football suffer measurable cognitive and behavioral deficits even before they enter their teen years.


Later in the week we learnt that 27-year-old Aaron Hernandez (a star player with a $40 million contract with New England Patriots), who had committed suicide while serving a life sentence for murder, had “the most severe case [of CTE] ever see for someone of Aaron’s age.”

Aaron’s family has brought a lawsuit against the NFL for not recognizing the danger American football presents to the brains of players.

Enough is enough.

You can be in a wheelchair, blind or handicapped in a variety of ways, but to be part of a university you must have a  functioning brain.

It is not a matter of whether some alumni may stop donating. Moral decisions are not for sale. It is not a matter of whether football costs more than it brings into the university. It is not a question of whether many students, faculty and staff enjoy football. It is not a question that more and more past players are likely to sue the regents. There is unequivocal evidence that college football causes unacceptable levels of brain damage.

People enjoy Formula One racing, but no one would support removing the brakes from racing cars to make that spectator sport even more exciting. It would be unethical to make the sport so dangerous.

Over the past few years compelling scientific evidence has built up that college football is simply too dangerous to be allowed to continue. It is a question of ethics, pure and simple.