Insurance, Data, and Consumer Product Safety, 1930–1974
Since the Great Depression, schools and sports administrators had chosen to manage football’s financial risks by focusing primarily on improving insurance schemes. Large athletic insurance programs offered families and schools a greater degree of financial protection against the risk of football injuries. The development of these programs also influenced football injury epidemiology. Mid-century research using large scale insurance data pointed to the limitations of protective equipment in preventing injuries. Doctors and researchers’ efforts to “save football” in the face of this evidence represented a broad cultural investment in preserving the sport among the experts responsible for protecting youth health. By the early 1960s, the most influential sports and research organizations had zeroed in on setting standards for football helmets as the most important technological strategy needed to control the sport’s hazards.
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