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NFL Will Stop “Race-Norming” in Concussion Settlements

T
he National Football League (NFL) has pledged to stop using “race-norming”, which assumes Black players have lower cognitive function, in concussion settlements.

The Associated Press reports the announcement was made after two Black players filed a civil rights lawsuit over the league’s use of the practice.

While the case was thrown out, senior US district judge, Anita B Brody, called for a report on the issue.

The standard was brought in during the 1990s in an effort to take into account socioeconomic effects on health, and “was soon used to make dementia payouts,” according to the BBC.

Attorneys argue that these standards, which assume Black players start with a lower level of cognitive function, make it more difficult for them to show a deficit and therefore qualify for an award.

In a statement made by the NFL on Wednesday, spokesman, Brian McCarthy said the league would stop the use of race-based norms and re-evaluate cases of those who were denied awards.

“The replacement norms will be applied prospectively and retrospectively for those players who otherwise would have qualified for an award but for the application of race-based norms,” McCarthy said on behalf of the NFL.

“We are committed to eliminating race-based norms in the program and more broadly in the neuropsychological community.

“The parties to the settlement have been working with the magistrate judge and have assembled the leading members of the neuropsychological industry to help identify alternative testing techniques,” McCarthy said.

In 2013 the NFL agreed to a settlement of US$765 million to players who suffered from concussion related health problems, after years of denying links between the sport and neurological injuries such as dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Over 2000 NFL retirees have filed dementia claims with less than 600 having received awards, according to the Associated Press.