drunk-281x300

Facebook, the NFL and the GOP: #WTF

What a fucking day.

Item: Congress has tentatively agreed on a bill that will keep the government from shutting down. Now, there’s a lot wrong with it, starting with the fact that the Republicans are insisting on a huge payoff to Wall Street, basically holding the best interests of the people hostage to the best interests of the insanely rich. The smart money says the Democrats will:

a) raise holy hell, then
b) fold like the Vichy little bitches they are.

In other news, the sun is expected to rise in the east tomorrow.

None of this is the fun part, though. First, the GOP plan would … well, just read it. Continue reading

Adrian Peterson

Adrian Peterson and the glacial pace of cultural evolution

Adrian-Peterson

Reach out and touch me now
Aphrodite said
You aren’t the only one
with armies in your head

I guess I take the Adrian Peterson story personally, for reasons I wrote about back in 2011. To this day I remember the pain that was inflicted on me by those I loved, and who loved me. Pain inflicted because they loved me, so much that they would have laid down their lives for me without question. But in their minds, if they spared the rod they were hurting me.

It warps you, in a way. It makes you associate pain with love and justice. And at 53, I have accepted that I will never quite be okay because of it.

Cultural evolution is a slow and sometimes painful thing. What is obvious to you and me today will be obvious to everyone eventually, but eventually might mean 20 years. Continue reading

Anonymous source says Rice tape was sent to NFL – but can we believe it?

I’m not sure what to make of this latest development. I’m perfectly capable of believing that Roger Goodell saw the infamous video of Ray Rice KOing his then-fiancee Janay – in fact, I may be leaning that way – but that doesn’t mean that I automatically buy any claim that supports the opinion.

In this case:

  • Go in fear of anonymous sources. Anonymity is sometimes necessary and good, but in all cases it makes it impossible to assign credibility.
  • Who the hell records that kind of phone exchange?
  • Finally, a law enforcement official released the tape without authorization because he/she didn’t want the NFL to make a ruling without it? Really? I’m almost certain that’s grounds for immediate termination, and it calls into question the credibility of said alleged officer/official.

Continue reading

CATEGORY: CrimeCorruption

An open letter to Janay Rice

Dear Janay,

The last few weeks have undoubtedly been difficult ones for you, and the last couple of days have probably been among the most trying of your life. I can imagine that you’re torn so many ways, and since I have never been in the position you’re in – have never experienced anything remotely like it – imagine is about all I can do. And speculate. I guess we all speculate. We can’t help it.

But you said something today that I just can’t let go. You said:

I love my husband. I support him. I want people to respect our privacy in this family matter.

Continue reading

Journalism

Washington Post ed board to stop using racist NFL team nickname. FINALLY. But what about the sports dept?

Two decades ago the WaPo condemned the use of “Redskins.” A generation later, by god they’re doing something about it. Sorta.

Way back in 1992 the Washington Post concluded that “the time-hallowed name bestowed upon the local National Football League champions — the Redskins — is really pretty offensive.” (Emphasis mine.)

A rough estimate based on occurrences of “redskin” in a WaPo site search going back to 2005 suggests that they have since deployed the offensive term ~83,000 times.

Today they announced they will no longer use the term. By “they,” I mean the editorial board. The news and sports divisions will carry on being pretty offensive.

Small victories are better than none at all, huh?

On the one hand, it’s nice to see someone as influential as the Post ed board doing the right thing. On the other hand, well, how many of you take 22 years – more than a goddamned generation – to stop doing something once you conclude that it’s wrong? They wrote that piece when George Bush – the Elder – was still president. Continue reading

LGBT

Tony Dungy is the Clarence Thomas of football

When he goes to bed tonight, Tony Dungy should offer a prayer of thanks that the US isn’t at the mercy of people like him.

Tony Dungy wouldn’t have drafted Michael Sam. But not because he’s gay! No, no. Because things will happen. You know … things.

Three thoughts.

1: Look! Look! See, Michael Sam is on TV being interviewed about non-football issues. He’s being a DISTRACTION! And why? Because … well, because Tony Dungy is in the media talking about how Sam is a distraction.

Don’t start no distraction, won’t be no distraction. Just saying. Continue reading

Jesus Tebow

Johnny Manziel: he’s the new Tim Tebow

Johnny Football is probably a bigger douchebag than St. Timmy, but they’re more alike than they are different.

I’m going to miss Tim Tebow.

He was a blogger’s dream.

First, his situation represented an unambiguous wrong, the perfect high horse upon which to climb. He was given an opportunity he did not deserve because of racial and religious bias. Period. No ifs, ands or buts. If he’d been the same white quarterback, only not as overtly religious, he’d have been drafted in the umpteenth round like A.J. McCarron, who has similar stats to Tebow. If he’d been the same religious quarterback with mediocre skills, only not white, he would never have been drafted in the first place. There was no need for nuance when writing about the Tebow situation because there was no nuance involved. WYSIWYG. Some poor schmuck had his opportunity to play in the NFL taken away because of religious zealotry run amok.  Continue reading

Sports_NCAA

NCAA Final Four: Kentucky vs. UConn reminds us how bad American sports are at deciding champions

US sports leagues reward inferior teams and routinely deny their best teams the championship.

Richard Allen Smith and I have argued from time to time about the merits of the BCS vs. the NCAA basketball tournament. Rich defends the BCS, while I point out its unfairness and corruption. He argues that the BCS does (did) a good job at getting the two best teams on the field for the final game, and that the single-elimination format of the Dance routinely allows inferior teams to win.

Whatever you may think about the BCS, it has to be said that Rich is right about March Madness. Tonight we’re going to see a “national championship” game featuring a team whose regular season performance merited them a seed in the 28-31 range playing a team whose record earned them an 8 seed – which is to say, they were somewhere in the early- to mid-30s. Continue reading

Washington Redskins and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell meet with Native American leaders about changing the team’s name. Sorta. But not really.

You can tell the Racist Epithets are serious because of who they sent to the meeting!

Did you see this at ThinkProgress?

In Secret Meeting, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell Discussed Redskins Name Change With U.S. Senator

As calls to change the name of the Washington Redskins escalated in 2013, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and top officials from the Redskins organization, including general manager Bruce Allen, met in secret with Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Native American leaders who support changing the name, two sources with knowledge of the meeting told ThinkProgress. Continue reading

CATEGORY: LGBT

Michael Sam comes out; will any existing players join him?

Michael Sam has made it easier for current gay players in the NFL. Will they do the same for him?

By now you’ve probably heard that Missouri defensive lineman Michael Sam has publicly announced that he’s gay. A projected third-round pick in the upcoming NFL draft, this decision will (unless all 32 teams simply decide that they’re going to be officially homophobic and to hell with whoever doesn’t like it) make him the league’s first active out player.

NFLPA President Domonique Foxworth predicts that players will accept him “with open arms.” Makes sense – his teammates at Mizzou did. Continue reading

CATEGORY: Racism in Sports

Counterpoint: Riley Cooper is exactly what you see in the video

Crisis reveals character, they say.

I hope you read Otherwise’s piece on Riley Cooper the other day. It’s truly an exceptional example of the kind of honest, intelligent thinking I’ve come top expect from my colleagues here at S&R.

But while I agree with most of the principles underlying Otherwise’s reasoning, I’m not sure I’m convinced that they apply to Cooper specifically. Before I make my case, let’s review the video that touched off the whole firestorm.

I guess the question of whether to condemn Cooper or, as Otherwise suggests, give him a break, hinges on whether or not we believe what he has said since the video went public. True, he has in fact said and done a great deal that you’d ask someone who was genuinely contrite to do. No argument about that.

The thing is, I don’t believe him. Let’s begin by examining the timeline. The video broke on July 31, and the apologizing commenced shortly thereafter. But the incident happened on June 9. that’s over six weeks where he did nothing. He didn’t apologize publicly. He didn’t tell the club or his teammates and apologize to them. It doesn’t sound like he told his parents about it. You know, the people who didn’t raise him that way and who are now in the news for all the wrong reasons.

Six weeks. He. Did. Nothing. Despite his mea culpas and his insistence that this isn’t a word he uses and it isn’t the kind of person he is, he did nothing.

Okay, you may be saying, but if he made this horrible mistake and was this embarrassed by it of course he wouldn’t say or do anything. He probably hoped it would go away, and no way in hell he actually wants to draw attention to it. Think of the most embarrassing thing you ever did, Sam. Did you go public with it?

No I didn’t, and this is a great point. It’s not only possible, it’s plausible.

But it isn’t consistent with a couple of things. First, you don’t have to go public to apologize to the security guard. You can find him, apologize, maybe even try and make it up by doing something nice for him. Cooper didn’t do this.

What else? Oh – the team says he’s now receiving counseling, and if we’re to believe what he says he’s probably grateful for it. He asks us to believe that this outburst represents behavior that is out of character for him, and if so, he had to be shocked to hear that word coming out of his mouth. I can empathize with that. If I was pissed off and all of a sudden heard myself using that language it would rock my self-image to the foundation. I’d absolutely be seeking counseling of some sort because I’d be in need of it.

If Cooper sought counseling to address this horrid new self-revelation we’ve heard nothing of it, and rest assured, that’s precisely the sort of information that he and/or his agent and/or the team would be making a big deal of.

Finally, Cooper is emphatic in asserting that this is not a word he uses. Is this claim plausible? Well, Otherwise relates an incident where he got so worked up that he blurted out something that was utterly out of character. Do I believe that this happens, that people get mad and say things they don’t mean, that they call people names that they know will hurt?

Yes, I absolutely believe this. But I’m also really intuitive and I have this nuclear powered bullshit detector. I have been known to use a foul word or two. I’ve said things that would make a sailor blush. My vocabulary is a large one, and there are many, many wicked words that I have experience with. There are also words that I never use. My suspicion is that when I crack off a profanity-laced rant featuring my chosen epithets that they roll somewhat elegantly off my tongue. I imagine I might sound less fluid were I to try out new words mid-conniption.

So the question is, when you watch that video and hear Cooper in context, when you admire his rage in full flight, and then he says that isn’t a word he uses, do you believe him?

I don’t. To my ears the word sounds very much at home in his mouth. I grew up in a place where that word was common daily usage and Cooper isn’t the first Southerner I’ve heard bust it out in anger. When I watch that video, I am reminded more of that world and the people in it than I am of people who do not have that sort of racist language in their vocabularies.

I may be wrong. Otherwise may be right. I don’t know Riley Cooper and he may be telling us the straight-up truth in his recent public statements. If he is, I hope the counseling helps and that he learns from this mistake and goes on to be an example for a society trying to claw its way up out of an unspeakable history of prejudice.

I may be wrong. But I doubt it.

Jesus Tebow

Tim Tebow decides to do the right thing for professional reasons (but reserves the right to do the wrong thing later when nobody is paying attention)

I was reading the Internets today and guess what? – our boy Timmy is back in the news.

New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow has decided to cancel his appearance at a Dallas church that is led by a pastor, Robert Jeffress, who has been criticized for his remarks about gays and other faiths.

Tebow sent out a series of tweets Thursday announcing his decision:

“While I was looking forward to sharing a message of hope and Christ’s unconditional love with the faithful members of the historic First Baptist Church of Dallas in April, due to new information that has been brought to my attention, I have decided to cancel my upcoming appearance. I will continue to use the platform God has blessed me with to bring Faith, Hope and Love to all those needing a brighter day. Thank you for all of your love and support. God Bless!”

Good for you, Tim. It’s great to hear that you’re genuinely committed to spreading Jesus’s message of love and acceptance, no matter what the circumstances are. Do the right thing, though the world may end. I’m proud of you. I think that….ummm, wait, hold on a second….he what? You’re kidding.

Jeffress told the Associated Press that Tebow told him he would like to speak at First Baptist at some point, but “he needed to avoid controversy right now for personal and professional reasons.”

So….you’ll go speak to the hatemongers as soon as everybody looks the other way for a second? The hell? Can somebody show me where it says in the Bible that you’re supposed to do good works for the Lord as long as it’s professionally expedient? (Hey, maybe this is what was going on with that whole “denied the Lord thrice” thing. I got your back, Jesus, but I got to look out for my family, hear what I’m saying?)

Let’s see if there’s anything else interesting in this article.

Jeffress said Thursday that First Baptist was being mischaracterized as a “hate church,” and that the church’s teachings were consistent with historic Christian beliefs.

Did I miss the part where hate and “historic Christian beliefs” (as interpreted by the likes of the Rev. Jeffress) are mutually exclusive?

“We had planned for him to speak very positively about the difference Jesus Christ had made in his life,” Jeffress said.

This would have been a great speech. If it weren’t for his very, very public displays of piety Tebow would never have played a down in the NFL. To paraphrase Chico Esquela, “Jebus been bery bery good to me.”

What else?

“There are a disproportionate amount of assaults against children by homosexuals than by heterosexuals, you can’t deny that,” Jeffress said in July.

Wait, what? Yes I can.

“And the reason is very clear: Homosexuality is perverse, it represents a degradation of a person’s mind and if a person will sink that low and there are no restraints from God’s law, then there is no telling to whatever sins he will commit as well.”

Which is why our history is so rife with gay serial killers, rapists, Lehman Brothers executives and superchurch pastors.

In a 2011 interview, Jeffress said that Islam and Mormonism were religions that are “heresy from the pit of hell,” and criticized the Roman Catholic Church as “the genius of Satan” and “corrupted” by cults.

And since this sounds like an intramural matter between the good reverend and his fellow Abrahamic religious conservatives, I’m just going to step back and leave it alone.

[Ahem]

We’ve been telling you what Tim Tebow was for a long time here at S&R: an opportunistic, hypocritical self-promoter who can’t play a lick. Between this and the fact that at present the NY Jets don’t want him anymore and can’t seem to find anyone else who does, either, the evidence continues to mount that we’ve been right all along.

CATEGORY: Sports

Five reasons why soccer will eventually surpass football in the US – #2: The lawyers are coming

Part two in a series.

Yes, the lawyers are coming, and football will be forced to change in ways that undercut its essential appeal. Did someone say “litigation”? From the ESPN story linked above:

The concussion issue has become part of the NFL story of late, with more than 3,000 former players suing the league on allegations that officials withheld information about the dangers of head injuries. Players diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy — a degenerative brain disease that can result in dementia — attribute their condition to repeated head injuries sustained on the field. Concussions and CTE also have been brought up as possible factors in the suicides of former players, including Ray Easterling and Dave Duerson.

In fact, right now more than 3,400 former players are suing, with some estimates saying the eventual number could rise above 5,000. Ballpark estimates of the damages? Maybe $10 billion?

Understand – this number is increasing every week. Who knows how many active players will wind up filing suit once they retire?

The league is certainly paying attention (or at least, it’s making a show of pretending to do so – their unconscionable behavior in this year’s referee lockout might cause us to question the depth of their commitment to player safety). There is some controversy over the findings, but the league has sponsored research on equipment safety (although it’s still allowing players to use less safe helmets if they choose). They have also enacted a number of rules changes to promote player safety, including:

  • no hits on defenseless players
  • no leading with the helmet
  • kickoffs moved up to dramatically reduce return opportunities, which result in very high risk of injury
  • and, of course, the gods help you if you hit a quarterback late or low or with your helmet

Rumor now has it that they’re even talking about scaling back on the body armor, abandoning hardshell helmets for leather or perhaps the sorts of padded gear that you find in rugby. The theory is that current helmets often cause injuries because players use them as weapons, leading with their heads in ways they never would otherwise.

This is an especially sticky issue for the sport. First, the fans are concerned. ESPN again:

In the survey, about 94 percent of NFL fans said they feel that concussions are a serious problem in the NFL. For some, it even affects the way they enjoy the game, with about 18 percent saying the concussion debate has made them less likely to follow football or watch it on television.

Second, it’s fair to wonder if you can make football “safe” without “ruining” it. Yes, you can develop better equipment. However, at the same time, players are constantly getting bigger, stronger and faster. It isn’t even remotely clear that it’s possible to evolve equipment that can keep up with the escalating violence inherent in player development.

Finally, let’s understand the appeal of the game. Scoring is fun, we love spectacular catches and breakaway touchdown gallops, but at its core football is about hitting. It’s about violence. It’s about knocking the other guy on his ass, and in some cases the culture promotes the idea of causing injuries.

Think about the squawling we hear each time the league adopts a new safety rule. You know, like last week.

“It’s definitely changing the game,” [Ed] Reed said about the NFL’s policy to protect players, via ESPN.com. “It’s become an offensive league. They want more points. They want the physical play out of it, kind of. They want like powder-puff to where you can just run around and score points cause that’s going to attract the fans. I understand you want to make money, but bending the rules and making the game different, you know, it’s only going to make the game worse.”

Those who run and market football leagues, whether we’re talking about the NFL or one of the lower professional leagues NCAA, really are up against it. On the one hand, they have to make the game safer, which functionally means they have to get some of the violence out of it. On the other hand, taking out the violence makes it inherently less marketable.

And all the while they have to fight off litigation from former players, deal with the public perception that causes the public to tune out and consider the possibility that in a generation or so they’re going to have a substantially smaller talent pool to draw on (and a culture generally that has spent a generation moving football further toward the periphery).

Not a pretty picture. Business is booming right now, but there are extremely dark clouds on the horizon.


CATEGORY: Sports

Five reasons why soccer will eventually surpass football in the US – #1: Parents love their children

Part one in a series.

Several years ago I wrote a piece examining the reasons that soccer wasn’t bigger (as a spectator sport) in the US. In the end, I argued, it all boils down to one thing: Americans like to be the best at whatever we do, and the US is nowhere near the best at “proper football.” I suggested, however, that our global profile was improving, and that you’d see the sport grow here as our results on the world stage continued to improve.

Since then a great deal has transpired where soccer in America is concerned, and when you consider these developments in light of the big picture of American spectator sports (ie, football), it’s entirely possible that my previous predictions about the rise of soccer may have been too conservative.

The truth is that the world’s game is exploding here, and there is every reason to believe that it will someday catch up to American football and even surpass it in popularity. No, this won’t happen next year, but if you aren’t already noticing the trend, you will be in a decade.

We know that the NFL is the biggest game in America. What’s #2? Well, that depends. But since we’re talking about growth and future trends, let’s ask the question this way: what’s the second biggest sport in the US among those aged 12-24?

Rich Luker, a 59-year-old baseball-loving social scientist based in North Carolina, is the brains behind the ESPN Sports Poll, the complex database that recently pronounced soccer as America’s second-most popular sport for those age 12-24, outstripping the NBA, MLB and college football. Luker is also the man who discovered that three soccer players — Lionel Messi (16th), iconic veteran David Beckham (20th), and Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo (24th) — rank among the 50 most popular athletes in America. “Unbelievably, [Lionel] Messi ranks ahead of Dwyane Wade,” Luker marveled. “Only two baseball players, Albert Pujols and Derek Jeter, are ahead of him.” [emphasis added]

This ESPN story on the future of soccer, published back in September, picks the brain of Luker, who’s sort of like the Moneyball / Sabermetrics statheads who have revolutionized baseball (and who are now beginning to infiltrate other sports with their incredibly complex metrics). It’s not Luker’s job to track pass percentages, though. He’s being paid to understand the massive audience and market trends that are going to define the programming and business reality for his clients in the coming years. His conclusion:

…the sporting tectonic plates have shifted. America’s cultural diversification, increasingly globalized outlook, and widespread access to the Internet all have benefitted soccer more than the other more traditional American sports. “In the last two years, Americans have been exposed to elite soccer on a very regular basis, which has allowed us to appreciate the sport and develop a savvy about it in a way we could not before,” Luker said.

“Based on the way it is trending, I believe global soccer will soon be four or five times bigger than it is today, and MLS’s fanbase will triple or quadruple,” he said. For those who do not believe, Luker is keen to underline that change can happen fast. “In 1994, MLB was as popular as the NFL. This stuff can shift quickly and right now, soccer is like a rocket ship on the launchpad.”

“If baseball and basketball don’t adapt to this new reality they are going to have issues,” Luker continued, discussing the NFL’s challenge to continue to develop talent in an era in which youth participation has dropped precipitously. “Fewer and fewer kids are actually playing [American] football so they won’t learn the game in the way it sustained their interest in the past. It is an inevitability that soccer will soon be as popular as MLB and NBA.”

How long will it take to get there? “We are talking generational change,” Luker said. “A generation of kids have now grown up as having MLS as part of their reality. Give us one more cycle and that is all it will take. One more generation.”

There are a number of factors shaping this transition from American football to soccer. Some have to do with the ways in which the American game is already eroding (you can’t see it on pro and college broadcasts yet, but the problems are real and profound). Others are all about how soccer is being marketed here and abroad. And a good bit of it deals with the fact that globalization works both ways. America has long exported its popular culture, but these days immigration and media trends are influencing us right back, and the most popular sport in the world is a predictable part and parcel of that dynamic.

Each day this week we’ll look at one of the factors driving the growth of soccer and/or the decline of football. Let’s start with one that has been very much in the news here at home: football injuries.

Reason #1: Violence and injuries are significantly decreasing the number of children being allowed to take up the football. Football has always been a violent game, and even if you don’t believe it’s getting worse, public and parental awareness of the risks are growing by leaps and bounds. The result? In an August ESPN survey, fully 57% of parents “said that recent stories about the increase in concussions in football have made them less likely to allow their sons to play in youth leagues.” That’s a big, big number, and it is borne out in stories from around the country.

In Minnesota, for instance, participation is down in little league and high school, while concussions are up.

Numbers are coming into the Minnesota Health Department where officials are tracking concussions from 42 high schools.

Leslie Seymour, an MDH epidemiologist, reports that more than 300 concussions were recorded from the past fall sports season, mostly from playing football. This is a greater number than Seymour had anticipated.

Most players suffering concussions were held out of practice a week, and two weeks was not uncommon.

At Bloomington Jefferson, 20 football players suffered concussions, with 12 missing two or more weeks of practice. Seven more concussion cases involved volleyball players. Bloomington Jefferson coaches have all received special training regarding concussions, and parents have signed off on information about head injuries.

It Otsego, Michigan, participation is actually up – for flag football. Parents are worried about the injuries, and for good reason.

Football is the No. 1 recreational activity that sends teenage boys to the hospital with a brain injury, and the rate of concussions in football is more than twice that of soccer and lacrosse.

But for all the focus on concussions, researchers now say the bigger worry in football may be total accumulation of body blows that jolt the head, shaking the brain like a bowl of Jello and traumatizing fragile brain tissue and nerves.

Football players can experience as many as 1,000 impacts or more over the course of season. Researchers say that, in terms of g-forces and stress on the body, playing in a high school football game is comparable to being in a 20- or 30-mph car crash.

Those so-called sub-concussive impacts may not cause concussions, but it appears they can add up and result in damage to the brain. Researchers say they see changes in brain scans of high school football players who have never reported a concussion.

Want more? Have a look at this compilation of data from MomsTeam.com.

  • A 2011 study8 of U.S. high schools with at least one athletic trainer on staff found that concussions accounted for nearly 15% of all sports-related injuries reported to ATs and which resulted in a loss of at least one day of play.
  • According to the C.D.C., during the period 2001-2009 children and youth ages 5-18 years increased 62% to a total of 2.6 million sports-related emergency department (ED) visits annually, of which 6.5% (173,285) involved a traumatic brain injury, including concussion. The rate of TBI visits increased 57%, likely due to increased awareness of the importance of early diagnosis of TBI.


Football players most at risk

  • At least one player sustains a mild concussion in nearly every American football game.
  • There are approximately 67,000 diagnosed concussions in high school football every year.
  • According to research by The New York Times, at least 50 youth football players (high school or younger) from 20 different states have died or sustained serious head injuries on the field since 1997.
  • Anecdotal evidence from athletic trainers suggests that only about 5% of high school players suffer a concussion each season, but formal studies surveying players suggest the number is much higher, with close to 50% saying they have experienced concussion symptoms and fully one-third reporting two or more concussions in a single season.
  • One study estimates that the likelihood of an athlete in a contact sport experiencing a concussion is as high as 20% per season.
  • According to the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research, there were 5 catastrophic spinal cord injuries in high school football in 2010. 67.8% of all catastrophic injuries in football since 1977 are from tackling.
  • According to a study reported in the July 2007 issue of The American Journal of Sports Medicine:
    • Football players suffer the most brain injuries of any sport;
    • An unacceptably high percentage (39%) of high school and collegiate football players suffering catastrophic head injuries (death, nonfatal but causing permanent neurologic functional disability, and serious injury but leaving no permanent functional disability) during the period 1989 to 2002 were still playing with neurologic symptoms at the time of the catastrophic event.

Take a couple of minutes to review this entire article. It’s illuminating, to say the least.

Perhaps most critically, a study released just last week makes clear that permanent, debilitating damage doesn’t require a “big hit” injury; it can result from routine incidences of mild injury.

The study, which included brain samples taken posthumously from 85 people who had histories of repeated mild traumatic brain injury, added to the mounting body of research revealing the possible consequences of routine hits to the head in sports like football and hockey. The possibility that such mild head trauma could result in long-term cognitive impairment has come to vex sports officials, team doctors, athletes and parents in recent years.

Public perception certainly isn’t improved by stories like this one:

Five Pee-Wee Football Players Suffered Concussions In A 52-0 Loss

It is not as absurd a question as it would have been, say, 10 years ago: Would you want your kid playing football? You can point to the safety advances, and the increased awareness, and the character-building spiel—and then you can point to a Pop Warner football game in Massachusetts last month, in which five players on a single team were concussed even as they were pummeled on the scoreboard.

One wonders how much character was built among the Tantasqua Pee Wees, as they were run over by the bigger, faster Southbridge team on Sept. 15. En route to a 52-0 blowout, five Tantasqua players—all between 10 and 12 years old—suffered concussions, were checked out on the sidelines, then sent right back in the game to get hit again.

Yow.

Parents are certainly noticing and many are thinking hard about the long-term threat the sport poses to their children. At least one analyst thinks that, as a result, it’s only a matter of time before football is a niche bloodsport.

“Football is really on the verge of a turning point,” Jay Coakley, a professor at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, told The New York Times. “We may see it in 15 years pretty much the same place as boxing and ultimate fighting.”

Coakley’s is obviously not a majority opinion, and even in my wildest worse-case scenario speculations I can’t imagine football losing that much ground that quickly. But while the timetable may be in question, there is every reason to believe his basic thesis: we live in a society where parents don’t let their children ride their bikes around the yard without helmets. How is something as dangerous as football going to survive as we continue to learn more about its risks?

Tomorrow: The lawyers are coming….

NFL announces new fan promotion: YOU make the call. In the Super Bowl!

In an attempt to quell growing fan unrest over the job being done by its replacement officials, the NFL today announced a new promotion it expects to increase public engagement with the national pastime. Commissioner Roger Goodell says the YOU MAKE THE CALL! contest will randomly select nine lucky fans to officiate Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans.

The contest hearkens back to the old You Make the Call series, where the TV audience was presented with an actual game situation and asked to decide the correct call. Continue reading

That's it. No more betting on the NFL ever again, no matter what.

Fuck those fucking fucks.

Last week I got booted from my suicide pool when New England lost. To Arizona. AT HOME. On a missed layup at the final gun. Today I got booted from my new reboot suicide pool – in its first week – when the NFC’s newest ass-whipping runaway juggernaut, the San Francisco 49ers, got waxed by – get this – the Vikings.

Many years ago I read a very funny article about what the writer termed “Zurich games.” Continue reading

NFL screwing the refs, players enjoying the show

nullJeff MacGregor brings the hammer down on Roger Goodell and the NFL re: its lockout of the refs. The money shot:

If Roger Goodell and the NFL and the NFL owners were serious about player safety and player conduct, for $50 million a year — less than 1 percent of total revenue — they could hire 200 well-trained full-time officials at $250,000 each.

But the NFL and the NFL owners and Roger Goodell are not serious about those things. They’re only serious about looking serious about those things. With the simple application of cash and backbone, they could make the game safer overnight. Instead, they’ll nickel-and-dime the officials’ union just because they can. Continue reading

Dear NFLPA: why do you only represent the interests of the thugs?

In case you haven’t been following the New Orleans Saints bounty program story, here’s a quick summary:

  • The team, under the direction of key members of the coaching staff, operated a bounty program that rewarded players for hits that injured opponents. In some cases, specific players were targeted, such as then-Viking QB Brett Favre in the January 2010 NFC Championship game. (It was evident to anyone watching that game that the Saints had decided to play dirty, although we didn’t yet know about the bounties. Clearly, though, there was an intent to injure Favre, either within or outside the rules.) Continue reading

Who should replace Hank Williams, Jr. on the Monday Night Football Intro? How about Mitt Romney, Man of the People®?

If you recall, Bocephus is out at MNF, thanks to a joke that ESPN deemed over the line. But somebody has to sing an annoying, poorly customized intro before each game, right? Who, though?

I have an idea.

Lately Mitt Romney, Man of the People® has been touring the country, connecting with the Common Man. He’s connected with Northern auto workers, with the black folk, with NASCAR fans, with hillbillies, and just yesterday, he made important inroads with America’s football fans. Continue reading

Last night, the best team did not win (and I'm a Giants fan)

by Matthew Record

There’s a feeling that’s sat next to me all season as I’ve watch my beloved Giants from strong start to an almost complete meltdown to a rebranding of themselves as tough-as-nails fourth quarter warriors. It’s an odd feeling but I wouldn’t say a negative one. What is this team? I don’t mean these past few weeks or even this season. Going back a few years – what is this team? Continue reading