The California Society of Industrial Medicine and Surgery and the California Neurology Society have come out to formally oppose California Assembly Bill 1309.
AB 1309 is the professional sports athlete exclusion bill that would remove the ability of designated professional athletes in football, basketball, baseball and hockey from utilizing California's continuing trauma theory if the athlete can not prove sufficient contacts within the state, as prescribed by the bill.
The bill is promoted by Assembly Member Henry Perea (D-Fresno). Perea says the ability of professional athletes not based in California is a "loophole" in the state's workers' compensation laws. He is joined by Senator Ted W. Lieu (D-Torrance) as a principal co-author and Senator Mark Wyland (R-Escondido) who has also agreed to co-author the bill.
Perea says that AB 1309 "would set clear jurisdictional standards on claims from professional athletes and close the loophole that currently allows out-of-state players to file cumulative trauma claims in California, regardless of whether they played for a California team or ever actually entered a California field to play. It would also close the loophole that allows out-of-state athletes to place 100 percent of the cumulative trauma liability on California-based teams despite having played a minimal amount of time for that team – while playing for multiple non-California teams in subsequent years."
Perea says that the "loophole" fails the "common-sense test."
The irony is that AB 1309 itself fails the common-sense test.
First off, AB 1309 targets ONLY professional football players, hockey players, baseball players and basketball players. What about other professional athletes? How about motocross racers? What about jockeys? Why not professional cheerleaders? And why are the coaches, assistant coaches, managers and back office people still able to avail themselves of this "loophole"? All of these workers cross state lines and may file for benefits, including continuous trauma injuries, in California without restriction.
What is most despicable about this proposed law is that it is SO arbitrary and discriminatory.
The ONLY difference is that the pro athletes get REAL, life altering injuries - particularly football players that the NFL would just like to keep quiet so that this modern day version of the Roman gladiator entertainment factory remains anesthetically pleasing to the consumers so they will continue to purchase ridiculously priced tickets and support outsized television commercial contracts.
The single biggest threat to the NFL now is the growing recognition that the sport considerably shortens athletes' lives and contributes substantially to organic brain disease. Constant sustained head trauma is the single most life-altering injury these athletes face, and it is a tragedy that the NFL would like to keep away from the public the fact that so many end up with dementia, Alzheimers, Parkinson's and other serious maladies tied directly to continuously sustained brain trauma.
The argument for this ridiculous bill is that athletes rarely step into this state. That argument is absurd.
Every time a television broadcast of an NFL game occurs in California before MILLIONS of California based fans those athletes have stepped into this state.
Every time an NFL game is broadcast into the television sets of California fans to entertain the masses the NFL receives MILLIONS of dollars in television broadcast rights.
And the same can be said for every other state too.
The NFL has no problem taking revenue from broadcast rights where their employees are placed virtually into this state across millions of television sets, but apparently does not like to recognize the fact that the millions of dollars received in broadcast rights would not exist but for the fact that they are placing their athletes into California.
There is no difference between playing a game live or via television where the same net result is that millions of people contribute millions of dollars in revenue for that entertainment.
Forum conveniens is a long standing, time honored legal principal that should not be discounted. Just because California offers a legal remedy that other states don't recognize does not mean that it is out of line, out of touch, irresponsible, or wrong.
Just the opposite - California's long standing tradition of being non-traditional, thinking outside of the box, leading the way, has created the most resilient, most robust, most diverse economy of the United States and one of the most vigorous economies of the entire world.
Why would 38 million people live here otherwise, and why would California have the greatest concentration of wealth in the world? Because California does things differently and the state traditionally recognizes the contribution of working people regardless of their income, their status, their location, their domicile.
Perea says that "the bill would not limit the ability of professional athletes or any other worker to file for cumulative trauma benefits in their home state or principal state of employment."
Hey, that's a great argument ... NOT! Because no other state recognizes "cumulative trauma benefits" like California does; because no other state recognizes the contribution of PEOPLE, aka The Working Class to its economy (and yes, despite large salaries for very short careers, professional athletes are largely working people putting their bodies on the line for the entertainment of the masses).
If California politicians had ANY balls (and there aren't too many of them left in the legislature) then this state would set a precedence and tell the NFL, "No F*cking Legislation" that would alter this state's long standing tradition of recognizing that employers need to own up to their use of workers in hazardous occupations no matter where they live.
California's great economy is built on one simple fact: that as a world class economy we rely on the sweat equity of everyone that contributes.
When the NFL is in town (whether in person, on television or any other medium), the town spends. It's okay if the NFL and the other sports franchises return the favor. They can afford it. The workers' compensation obligation to California's workers is particularly acute when an employer takes so much money from willing consumers.
The NFL and other professional sports franchises owe it to their workers to protect them, regardless of their incomes, regardless of their status, regardless of their jobs.
To allow otherwise is an affront to the working people of this state.