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Slide share #4: NFL & Concussions - Conflict Management - Brian Villwock


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The NFL's Conflict Management regarding Concussions & CTE.

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Slide share #4: NFL & Concussions - Conflict Management - Brian Villwock

  2. 2. NFL & Concussions In August of 2013, the NFL agreed to a $765 million settlement with more than 4,500 retired football players who had accused the league of concealing a link between traumatic brain injury and professional football. This settlement comes after many years of research, testimonies by multiple doctors and researchers, deaths of former football players & denial by the NFL.
  3. 3. Conflict Putnam & Poole define conflict as the “Interaction of independent people who perceive opposition of goals, aims, and values, and who see the other party as potentially interfering with the realization of these goals. (Putnam & Poole, 1987)” The NFL was in a conflict with many doctors, researchers and the public/media, as they were interfering and opposing the league’s goals to entertain and make money.
  4. 4. Defining the type of Conflict The NFL’s conflict is considered a Interorganizational Conflict, which involves disputes between two or more organizations. Conflict consists of three “I’s”: Incompatible Goals, Interdependent Behaviors & Role of interaction. The doctors and researchers were attempting to show & prove the dangerous effects of repeated blows to the head & severe head trauma, while the NFL continued to deny the research & facts.
  5. 5. 5 Phases of Organizational Conflict ★ Latent Conflict - Grounds for conflict exist because parties are interacting in interdependent relationships in which compatible goals are possible. ★ Perceived Conflict - One or more parties perceive that their situation is characterized by incompatibility & interdependence. ★ Felt Conflict - Parties begin to personalize perceived conflict by focusing on the conflict issues & planning conflict management strategies.
  6. 6. 5 Phases of Organizational Conflict Cont’d. ★ Manifest Conflict - Conflict is enacted through communication. Interaction might involve cycles of escalation and de-escalation as various strategies are used. ★ Conflict Aftermath - Conflict episode has both short-term and long-term effects on the individuals, their relationship, and the organization. ★ We will examine how each phase played out with the NFL and their conflict with Concussions...
  7. 7. Latent Conflict “A situation where the conditions are ripe for conflict” - During the 1990’s, multiple former and current NFL players start to see signs of brain damage and memory loss as a result of concussions and severe head trauma. - Many of these high profile players begin to vocalize their symptoms, concerns and even begin to retire from the game/league earlier than traditionally expected.
  8. 8. Perceived Conflict Also in the 90’s, NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue creates the Mild Traumatic Brain Injury committee, and appoints New York Jets team doctor and rheumatologist Dr. Elliot Pellman as chair, despite lacking any previous experience in brain science. When asked about the issue of concussions, Pellman said, “‘We discuss it on the list of things every time we have a league meeting … We think the issue of knees, of drugs and steroids and drinking is a far greater problem, according to the number of incidents.”
  9. 9. Felt Conflict - In the early 2000’s, multiple former NFL players begin to show more extreme symptoms of brain damage, memory loss and other stronger symptoms. A handful of these former players begin to lash out and cause harm to themselves and their families. A few former players begin to die and/or commit suicide. - After his death, Allegheny County medical examiner Dr. Bennet Omalu decides to take a closer look at Mike Webster’s brain, eventually discovering the first evidence of a brain disease that had never been previously identified in football players, Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, or CTE.
  10. 10. Felt Conflict Continued - Still in the early 2000’s, Dr. Bennet Omalu begins examining several more former players brains who had reported symptoms consistent with Mike Webster’s before their deaths. - Dr. Omalu publishes his findings of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in Mike Webster’s brain in the journal Neurosurgery. - Neurology & Pathology doctor & professor Dr. Ann McKee examines and performs research on multiple former football players brains who reported symptoms associated with CTE before their death. The players ages varied from late 80’s to an 18 year old high school student athlete.
  11. 11. Felt Conflict Continued - MTBI Committee, Dr. Joseph Maroon, tells the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that Omalu’s conclusion that Terry Long’s suicide may have been the result of depression caused by head injuries during his career in football was “fallacious reasoning.” - The NFL’s MTBI committee requests that Neurosurgery Journal retract Dr. Omalu’s CTE paper. They continue to deny the effects of concussions and head trauma. - In 2009, Scientists crash and host a press conference at the Super Bowl & then speak in front of a House Judiciary Hearing regarding CTE.
  12. 12. Manifest Conflict - In December of 2009, an NFL Spokesman finally acknowledges the long term effects of concussions. This is the very first time the league admits that concussions had long-term effects. - NFL announces a $30 million donation to the National Institutes of Health for research into brain trauma. - The NFL announces it’s funded Heads Up Football, a new USA Football initiative to promote safety and concussion awareness in youth football. - In 2013, The NFL agrees to pay $765 million to settle the lawsuit with retired players.
  13. 13. Conflict Aftermath - The NFL produces a poster to be hung in locker rooms warning that concussions “may lead to problems with memory and communication, personality changes, as well as depression and the early onset of dementia. Concussions and conditions resulting from repeated brain injury can change your life and your family’s life forever.” - The NFL moves up kick-offs by five yards to the 35-yard line in hopes of reducing the speed of collisions during kickoff. - The NFL announces it’s funded Heads Up Football, a new USA Football initiative to promote safety and concussion awareness in youth football.
  14. 14. Conflict Aftermath Continued - In addition to donating $1 million towards their research efforts, the NFL writes a letter stating they will make Dr. McKee’s Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy at Boston University the “‘preferred’ brain bank of the NFL” for future research on the brains of deceased NFL players. - NFL Players Association announces it will fund a $100 million Harvard Medical School research initiative into the health problems that affect current and former football players. - The NFL announces that an independent neurologist will be placed on the sidelines of every game.
  15. 15. Conflict Aftermath Continued - The league releases a video explaining new NFL playing rules. Included is a ban on “crown of the helmet” hits outside of the tackle box – designed to reduce high impact hits to the head. - Dr. Ann McKee, Dr. Omalu and other scientists continue to study CTE in former athletes. McKee tells FRONTLINE she’s found CTE in the brains of 45 of the 46 former NFL players she’s examined.
  16. 16. Avoidance - Initially, the NFL stuck to the conflict management style of avoidance. They denied the facts and scientific evidence presented by Doctor Omalu, Doctor McKee & numerous others, claiming that their findings were incorrect and there were no dangers or health concerns associated with playing football. - As our textbook states, avoidance is used when issue will not be easy to resolve. In avoidance, the party or individual shows little concern for either your own needs or the other party. - As the NFL found out, this strategy is rarely effective.
  17. 17. Collaboration - This is the most ideal conflict management strategy. In this strategy, there is high concern for both self and others. - When collaborating, the idea is to reach a solution that could benefit both parties. - Once the NFL had no choice but to acknowledge the facts and scientific findings from the numerous doctors who did research on former players brains, their best option was to try to collaborate with the former players who brought the class action case before them. This lead to bargaining and negotiation.
  18. 18. Bargaining & Negotiation - According to Putnam & Poole, “bargaining constitutes a unique form of conflict management in that participants negotiate mutually shared rules and then cooperate within these rules to gain a competitive advantage over their opponent… Bargaining, then, differs from other forms of conflict in its emphasis on proposal exchanges as a basis for reaching a joint settlement in cooperative-competitive situations.” - The NFL and the former players formally met and negotiated the terms of their settlement, in which both sides were looking for an advantage. The players benefited from the large payout from the NFL, and the NFL benefited by not having to admit any wrongdoing.
  19. 19. Distributive Bargaining This is an example of distributive bargaining, because… - “The two conflicting parties are working to maximize their own gains and minimize their own losses. The bargaining centers on the limited resources that must be divided in the negotiation.” - Because both sides are working with a fixed pot & the only possible outcomes are win-lose solutions or compromise. - Both sides were concerned with their own outcomes, communication is marked by withheld information, deception (mainly by the NFL) & attempts to learn as much as possible about the other party's position.
  20. 20. Bibliography Breslow, Jason M. (2013, August 29) NFL Reaches $765 Million Settlement In Concussion Lawsuit. Frontline. Retrieved from Ezell, Lauren (2013, October 8) Timeline: The NFL’s Concussion Crisis. Frontline. Retrieved from Miller, Katherine. Organizational Communication. Approaches and Processes. 6th ed. 2012. Boston, MA. Wadsworth. Putnam, L.L. & Poole, M.S. (1987) Conflict and negotiation. Handbook of Organizational Communication: An Interdisciplinary Perspective (pp. 549-599) Newbury Park, CA. Sage Publishing.
  21. 21. THE END