The National Football League (NFL) in the United States says it is abandoning a race-based formula in settling concussion lawsuits that assumes black players have a lower level of cognitive function.
The NFL has pledged to review previous brain-injury claims that have been settled by using this formula, known as race-norming, according to the BBC.
More than 2 000 former NFL players have lodged dementia claims, but fewer than 600 have received compensation, according to the report. Lawyers say more than half of NFL retirees are black.
In its use of race-norming, the league compares a given player’s cognitive test scores with the supposed norm for his demographic group. Under the methodology, black players are assumed to possess a lower level of cognitive function than the average white player.
The formula was first established in the 1990s in recognition of how socioeconomic factors affect a person’s health, and was soon used in making dementia payouts.
The NFL has defended the practice in the past, saying its standards ‘relied on widely accepted and long-established cognitive tests and scoring methodologies’.
But critics say the small sample of black people in San Diego, California that were used by psychiatrist Robert Heaton for the initial study did not fully represent black people in the US, then or today.