Summary of Dissertation
“Concussions in Athletics: Risk-Taking Behavior, Compensation, and Legal Remedies”
This dissertation seeks to shed further light on the issue of concussions in athletics—a topic that has garnered increased attention over the past decade. Chapter 1 examines youth sports concussion laws, which have now been implemented by every state. Specifically, I study the impact that these state laws have on participation in high school athletics and the reporting of youth concussions. Chapter 2 looks at how risk and compensation schemes related to concussions currently operate at the youth, college, and professional levels of football. This chapter then provides recommendations for how risk-management systems can be implemented at each level so as to promote levels of risk and compensation that are closer to the optimal level than currently exist. Chapter 3 studies how commitment and payment schemes affect risk-taking behavior through the use of an incentivized experiment. In doing so, I analogize these risk decisions to those faced by professional football players, who must decide whether to continue their careers in the face of potential long-term health effects due to concussions.