Archive | Sports

Study suggests link between football violence and degenerative brain disease

There is a new study suggesting a link between football violence and degenerative brain disease. Here is the description from The New York Times.

Dr. Ann McKee, a neuropathologist, has examined the brains of 202 deceased football players. A broad survey of her findings was published on Tuesday in The Journal of the American Medical Association.

Of the 202 players, 111 of them played in the N.F.L. — and 110 of those were found to have chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or C.T.E., the degenerative disease believed to be caused by repeated blows to the head.

C.T.E. causes myriad symptoms, including memory loss, confusion, depression and dementia. The problems can arise years after the blows to the head have stopped…

The set of players posthumously tested by Dr. McKee is far from a random sample of N.F.L. retirees. “There’s a tremendous selection bias,” she has cautioned, noting that many families have donated brains specifically because the former player showed symptoms of C.T.E.

But 110 positives remain significant scientific evidence of an N.F.L. player’s risk of developing C.T.E., which can be diagnosed only after death. About 1,300 former players have died since the B.U. group began examining brains. So even if every one of the other 1,200 players would have tested negative — which even the heartiest skeptics would agree could not possibly be the case — the minimum C.T.E. prevalence would be close to 9 percent, vastly higher than in the general population.

The N.F.L.’s top health and safety official has acknowledged a link between football and C.T.E., and the league has begun to steer children away from playing the sport in its regular form, encouraging safer tackling methods and promoting flag football.

Read the rest here.

I think McEnroe is taking heat for no good reason

Earlier this evening, I saw John McEnroe’s interview with CBS News anchors who grilled him about some remarks he made about Serena Williams (see above). McEnroe said in an interview with NPR on Sunday that he believed that Serena Williams would be ranked about 700th in the world if she were playing on the men’s circuit. The anchors suggest that McEnroe is denigrating Serena Willams’s success, that he owes her an apology, and that he made the remark in order to increase his book sales.

McEnroe refuses to apologize, and I think he was right to do so. If you look at the NPR interview, it is clear that McEnroe was not denigrating Serena Williams. He was asked a pointed question, and he gave an honest answer. Read it for yourself:

Garcia-Navarro: We’re talking about male players but there is of course wonderful female players. Let’s talk about Serena Williams. You say she is the best female player in the world in the book.

McEnroe: Best female player ever — no question.

Garcia-Navarro: Some wouldn’t qualify it, some would say she’s the best player in the world. Why qualify it?

McEnroe: Oh! Uh, she’s not, you mean, the best player in the world, period?

Garcia-Navarro: Yeah, the best tennis player in the world. You know, why say female player?

McEnroe: Well because if she was in, if she played the men’s circuit she’d be like 700 in the world.

Garcia-Navarro: You think so?

McEnroe: Yeah. That doesn’t mean I don’t think Serena is an incredible player. I do, but the reality of what would happen would be I think something that perhaps it’d be a little higher, perhaps it’d be a little lower. And on a given day, Serena could beat some players. I believe because she’s so incredibly strong mentally that she could overcome some situations where players would choke ’cause she’s been in it so many times, so many situations at Wimbledon, The U.S. Open, etc. But if she had to just play the circuit — the men’s circuit — that would be an entirely different story.

McEnroe did not denigrate Serena Williams. On the contrary, he called her the greatest female tennis player of all time. McEnroe did not bring the issue up to increase book sales. On the contrary, the NPR reporter raised the question. McEnroe merely answered the questions by stating the obvious. 

It is a fact that men generally have greater muscle mass, denser bone structure, and taller frames than women. That means that male athletes are generally bigger and faster and stronger than their female counterparts. Is McEnroe really supposed to apologize for saying something that everyone already knows to be true? I hope not.

This little episode reveals just how much our culture’s understanding of male and female has shifted. Because of transgenderism or as in this case feminism, people are increasingly willing (and even expected) to overlook the biological realities that distinguish men and women. The result of this drift is that what used to be considered common sense is now considered insensitive. That is what caught McEnroe by surprise. But it doesn’t make what he said any less true. It just reveals a cultural drift toward the absurd.

Which team would you prefer to win the College Football National Championship?

My working theory is that most people are getting tired of Alabama and would like to see the dynasty fall. Let’s see if this poll bears that out.

Y’all know who I’m pulling for in this one. If I had an orange shirt, I might even wear it. Geaux, Tigers!

Farewell to Les Miles. No one wanted it to come to this.


I am a fan of Les Miles. I admire Les Miles. I think Baton Rouge and LSU owe so much to Les Miles. He’s the winningest coach in the school’s storied history. He gave us some great teams and, no question, some great players. He was the Mad Hatter with more tricks than you could shake a stick at (one of my favorite bits of mad-hattery above and another below). He brought the school two SEC championships (2007 and 2011), two national championship appearances (2007 and 2011), and one national championship win (2007).

In addition to that, he has meant so much to the community in Baton Rouge. He showed leadership and rallied the community during Katrina, during the racial unrest over the summer, and during the aftermath of recent devastating floods. In spite of the downturn in Tiger football of late, people in Louisiana genuinely love and admire Les Miles. That is why he got one more shot to coach the Tigers after a disappointing 2015 season. That is why after the victory over A&M last year, his players carried him off the field. They love him, and so do so many others in my home state.

So what happened that led to his abrupt firing earlier today? If you think it was due solely to the heartbreaking loss to Auburn yesterday, you only know part of the story. The real story is that LSU football has been in decline since 2012. In fact, we can put our finger on the exact moment that the decline began. It was January 9, 2012. Continue Reading →

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My favorite 2016 Olympic Moment

Look at what Second Lieutenant Sam Kendricks does in the middle of his Olympic pole vault run when he hears the national anthem. I think this may be my new favorite moment of the 2016 Olympics.

Kendricks went on to win the Bronze medal in the event.

After football, now what? … Pain

The title of the post is a bit of a head-fake. What you are about to read is not about what all us fans will do now that football has wrapped-up until next Fall. No. “After football, now what?” is about the question that every pro-player has to face after retiring from the game. Yes, there is a big payday for many star players—one that leaves them financially set for life. But there can also be a tremendous physical cost.

USA Today published two stories talking about what life is like after football for some of the greats. All of them seem to have life-altering physical problems caused by years on the grid-iron. Here’s what the paper reports about the lives of football stars who are now well into their retirement, and the scene they describe is not pretty: Continue Reading →

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Another NFL great (and Bama star) diagnosed with C.T.E.

Here is an excerpt from the sad report in The New York Times:

The day after Stabler died on July 8, a victim of colon cancer at age 69, his brain was removed during an autopsy and ferried to scientists in Massachusetts. It weighed 1,318 grams, or just under three pounds. Over several months, it was dissected for clues, as Stabler had wished, to help those left behind understand why his mind seemed to slip so precipitously in his final years.

On a scale of 1 to 4, Stabler had high Stage 3 chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or C.T.E., the degenerative brain disease believed to be caused by repeated blows to the head, according to researchers at Boston University. The relationship between concussions and brain degeneration is still poorly understood, and some experts caution that other factors, like unrelated mood problems or dementia, might contribute to symptoms experienced by those later found to have had C.T.E.

Readers of this blog know that I love football. But these stories are getting more and more common, and they are heart-breaking. I know the NFL is making changes to the game, but I think there will have to be more. I would support any reforms to make the game safer for players.

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