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Gladiators in the 21st Century: Violence and Injuries in Sports

October 26, 2012

Gladiators in the 21st Century

They are the modern gladiators.  They participate in society’s most violent, bone-jarring spectator events.  They are today’s athletes.

They risk battered bodies and shattered limbs and, much worse, depression, dementia and possibly death as a result of traumatic brain injury, all the unnecessary consequence of the culture of violence that is pervasive in sports at all levels in today’s world.

Sports at the pro, college, high school and even the grade school levels, especially football, have become blood sports. Athletes inflict intense and intentional bodily force upon each other, quite often with the encouragement of coaches, peers and, worse yet, parents.  A “win at all costs” mentality prevails in today’s sports world at great cost:  physically, mentally, emotionally and financially.

This gladiatorial culture of violence plays itself out on American football fields each fall.  If we fail to deal with this inexcusable but preventable problem, the death knell may be sounding for football and other injury-prone sports as we now know them.

Thomas Jefferson School of Law’s Center for Sports Law & Policy is tackling this critical problem by presenting “Gladiators in the 21st Century: Violence and Injuries in Athletics”, a daylong conference at the law school on Saturday, November 10.  This conference will examine the violence and devastating injuries that pervade sports and focus on finding solutions on the medical, legal, policy and cultural levels. 

What are the effects of this violence, both short-term and long-term? And, what can we do to change this culture of violence and protect today’s athletes?

The event will feature highly engaging panels of distinguished legal and medical professionals as well as pro athletes. It is through well intentioned and well informed discourse, such as this conference, that acceptable and practical solutions will emerge.

The keynote speaker is legendary sports agent Leigh Steinberg, who has played a highly active role in getting the National Football League to address the problem of concussions among players. Former San Diego Chargers linebacker Billy Ray Smith will be a panelist along with five-time world champion pro wrestler Adam “Scrap Daddy” Pearce.

Other panelists:

Dr. David M. Reiss, DMR Dynamics, Expert Witness for Concussion Litigation
Dr. Jacob E. Resch, Director, Brain Injury Laboratory, University of Texas, Arlington
Dr. Dwight Zach Smith, Medical Director, Beyond Wellness Talent Protection; Executive Director, New England Psychiatric Consultants, Plymouth, MA
Dr. Kristen Willeumier, Director of Research, Amen Clinics
Jordan Kobritz, SUNY Cortland, Professor and Chair of the Sport Management Department
Travis Leach, Attorney at Law, Sports Agent, Jennings Strouss
Jeff Levine, Professor, Southern Illinois University
Gary Wolensky, Attorney at Law, Hewitt Wolensky, LLP
Matthew Mitten, Marquette University, Professor of Law and Director of Sports Law Institute
Rodney K. Smith, Thomas Jefferson School of Law, Distinguished Professor and Director of TJSL Center for Sports Law and Policy
Billy Ray Smith, Former San Diego Chargers Linebacker
Adam “Scrap Daddy” Pearce, Five-Time NWA Heavyweight Wresting Champion
Mike West, President, California Athletic Trainers Association

In introducing this cutting edge conference, Professor Rod Smith, who Directs the Center for Sports Law and Policy at Thomas Jefferson said, “I am thrilled to announce that we are bringing leaders in medicine, law and sport to the law school to discuss and find solutions to the crisis of violence and injuries in sport.” Smith added, “I fear that, if those who love sport fail to address these excesses, other will do the work for us and we will not like the result. We must find solutions.”

This conference is funded though the generosity of an anonymous donor.

For more information and to register: