PR Week: The NFL acknowledged a link to CTE this week. Here’s what it should do next

PRWeekAlisha Marks Tischler, EVP, Schwartz Media Strategies shares with PR Week her Crisis Communications plan for the NFL regarding the link between football and CTE.

A group of health and crisis experts said the league must improve safety at all levels of the game and issue a zero tolerance policy for head targeting and players who bend the rules.

football-801047_640For the first time, an NFL executive acknowledged the link between football and the degenerative brain disorder Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy on Monday. The league had avoided a connection between the sport and CTE for years, despite scientific studies supporting the idea that repeated blows to the head can lead to the disease.

PRWeek asked five crisis and health communications experts what the NFL should do next.

Alisha headshotAlisha Marks Tischler, EVP, Schwartz Media Strategies

The NFL is following in the footsteps of Big Tobacco, acknowledging the health risks associated with its product only after a massive class action lawsuit. And while cigarettes are cigarettes, football is a game with a set of flexible rules. The NFL has an opportunity – and a responsibility – to change the sport by improving and encouraging safety at all levels of play. That means educating coaches and families involved in youth leagues, investing in better equipment for children in communities across the U.S., funding research and development in the private sector and at universities, and taking another look at its system of on-field rules and penalties.