Can Ed Cunningham Fix College Football?
If you believe that the actions of one person can eventually create enough momentum to fuel a mass movement, then Ed Cunningham’s recent resignation from ESPN is a pretty intriguing move. For this former player and long-time analyst, stepping away from the broadcasting booth follows his conscience — and allows him to better amplify his concerns about the future of this sport.
College football is an incredible experience, but there sure are a lot of elements of this sport that need a lot of fixing. Cunningham’s resignation focuses on the most basic of these fixable elements: player safety. As he tells the New York Times in this story from August 30:
“In its current state, there are some real dangers: broken limbs, wear and tear. But the real crux of this is that I just don’t think the game is safe for the brain. To me, it’s unacceptable.
“I know a lot of people who say: ‘I just can’t cheer for the big hits anymore. I used to go nuts, and now I’m like, I hope he gets up. It’s changing for all of us. I don’t currently think the game is safe for the brain. And, oh, by the way, I’ve had teammates who have killed themselves. Dave Duerson put a shotgun to his chest so we could study his brain. This is as personal as it gets. I’m not hypothesizing here.”
Click on this link to read more of Cunningham’s thoughts, including his ideas on how to better protect the players of today and tomorrow.
Personally, college football remains the only sport that I will devote significant time, effort and energy to following. I love the tradition, the pageantry, the rivalries, the athleticism, the dramatic storylines and so much more. But, I don’t love the fact that this game is creating negative, long-term health consequences for so many of its participants. Fans need to follow Cunningham’s lead — and push coaches and administrators to implement more strident safety standards.
Hugh Forrest serves as Chief Programming Officer at SXSW, the world’s most unique gathering of creative professionals. He also tries to write at least four paragraphs per day on Medium. These posts often cover tech-related trends; other times they focus on books, pop culture, sports and other current events.