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Silicon Valley veteran doing Technical Community Management. Photographer with a strong interest in birds, wildlife and nature who is exploring the Western states and working to tell you the stories of the special places I've found.
Author and Blogger. They are not the same thing. Sports occasionally spoken here, especially hockey. Veteran of Sun, Apple, Palm, HP and now Infoblox, plus some you've never heard of. They didn't kill me, they made me better.
Person with opinions, and not afraid to share them. Debate team in high school and college; bet that's a surprise.
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Category Archives: Sports
using tissue from retired NFL athletes culled posthumously, the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy (CSTE) is shedding light on what concussions look like in the brain. The findings are stunning. Far from innocuous, invisible injuries, concussions confer tremendous brain damage. That damage has a name: chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).
CTE has thus far been found in the brains of five out of five former NFL players. On Tuesday afternoon, researchers at the CSTE will release study results from the sixth NFL player exhibiting the same kind of damage.
CNN American Morning
Watch more on concussions and the brain Wednesday
6 a.m. – 9 a.m.
CNN American Morning »
“What’s been surprising is that it’s so extensive,” said Dr. Ann McKee, a neuropathologist at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Bedford, Massachusetts, and co-director of the CSTE. “It’s throughout the brain, not just on the superficial aspects of the brain, but it’s deep inside.”
CSTE studies reveal brown tangles flecked throughout the brain tissue of former NFL players who died young — some as early as their 30s or 40s.
McKee, who also studies Alzheimer’s disease, says the tangles closely resemble what might be found in the brain of an 80-year-old with dementia.
“I knew what traumatic brain disease looked like in the very end stages, in the most severe cases,” said McKee. “To see the kind of changes we’re seeing in 45-year-olds is basically unheard of.”
Okay, we’re getting proof this is pretty serious crap. Can we PLEASE get beyond the “heh heh, bell rung. shake it off and get out there” mentality and do something? Bluntly, if there’s an argument against fighting in hockey, THIS is it. As I’ve said before, I really want to see the league get serious about attacks to the head — but it’s hard to rationalize that position with fighting in the league. You can’t hit someone in the head, unless you take your gloves off first?
At the same time, it has to be done in a way that preserves the physicality of the sport. And the tradeoffs there are tough ones, it’s not as simple as outlawing hits to the head or trying to do away with fighting.
But because it’s tough doesn’t imply it shouldn’t be tackled. Just that the answers aren’t as simple as many fans and media types want to portray it to be.
Now that virtually every cyclist in the Tour de France has been booted for doping, is it time to consider a radical rethinking of the doping issue?
Is it time, perhaps, to come up with a pre-approved list of performance-enhancing agents and procedures, require the riders to accept full responsibility for whatever long-term physical and emotional damage these agents and procedures may produce, and let everyone ride on a relatively even keel without having to ban the leader every third day?
If the cyclists are already doping, why should we worry about their health? If the sport is already so gravely compromised, why should we pretend it hasn’t been?
I can argue both sides of this.
The argument in favor of letting players dope boils down to two main ideas: they’re already doing it, so why not legitimize it? And the other idea is that as long as the athletes know what they’re getting into — why shouldn’t we let them?
The argument against doping is pretty simple: doping kills athletes. Cyclists have been doping with EPO for years, as well as with red cell transfusions and other ways to increase oxygen uptake. And as long as Cyclists have been doing this, cyclists have been dying.
Do you want any sport to become like pro wrestling, where one of the rarest things is a wrestler over age 45?
There are two reasons why sports have drug restrictions. well, actually, three:
First is to keep the athlete from doing stupid and dangerous things to themselves because they’re willing to do so to win. Athletes are not the best judge of what’s in their long-term interest, and the competitive instinct and the political pressure to win causes lapses of judgement. Athletes DO need to be protected from themselves, and from bad advice from those they listen to.
Second is to try to keep the sport on a fair basis: the idea is, in theory, for the best athlete to win. The more you allow an athlete to “hack” this essential fairness, the less relevant the results are (at least in theory). Is the idea to allow the best athlete to win? or the one with the best access of technology?
This is a constant struggle in most sports — hockey limits the size of goaltender gear and what you can do to your stick; NASCAR limits horsepower and other mechanical aspects of cars; bicycling limits equipment as well to try to prevent races from becoming technological challenges. There’s a long tradition of sports trying to manage the compromises between a sport moving forward and the technology changing the sport.
Oh, and third? Drug doping gives some people a lot of power and political push; it’s one reason why Dick Pound ought to rot in hell, because he’s the embodiment of drug testing becoming a means to power instead of a check against excesses.
Personally, I stand firmly in the middle here. I think a lot of drug testing and doping work done today is excessive — the Olympics is a circus of politics over common sense; honestly, I don’t care if hockey players take Sudafed (a no no) or shooters take Benadryl. Neither one is going to affect a player’s long-term health, and the competitive advantages are minimal.
On the other hand, look at wrestlers and the history of steroids and other drugs. Do you really want to give athletes free reign to take the chance that something might happen later so they can win now?
The current state of drug testing in sports is well out of balance. it needs to be dialed back and focus more on the health and safety of the athlete. But do away with testing? allow doping of cyclists?
Where do you draw the line? How much risk are you going to allow an athlete to screw up (or truncate) their future life for current, fleeting glory? it’s a tough call. But the reality is, even WITH drug restrictions and testing you see athletes willing to take chances to win, and we now see with the WWE and with cycling that those decisions have come back to haunt (and kill) athletes.
I’d have serious problems being a fan of a sport where I knew athletes were taking serious risks iwth their health to win; that’s a reason why I stopped following women’s gymnastics years ago, once it became clear how endemic the pressure towards delayed puberty, bulemia and anorexia.
Where does this turn into blood and circuses? Do I want the blood of an athlete on my hands as a fan?
I have trouble with that. And one thing I do know, and which has been proven time and time again, if you don’t protect the athletes from themselves in making these kind of “win now, worry about tomorrow later” decisions, they WILL choose to win now — and pay later. And because of that, those decisions shouldn’t be in the athlete’s hands, or their handlers.
nice piece on this posted on Freakomics from Joe Linsdsey of Bicycling magazine.
Yesterday, I posted a short piece called “Should We Just Let the Tour de France Dopers Dope Away?” It wasn’t an outright call for legalization of sports doping, but I wanted to put the idea on the table.
Well, Joe Lindsey, a contributing writer for Bicycling magazine, wrote in to say that there are a lot of compelling reasons to keep the idea off the table. Joe, who has written widely on doping in cycling, was good enough to write up his argument in the guest post below.
Welcome back, Tom — it’s damn good to see you again!
And this, in essence, is the attraction of curling. If folks stop snickering about the sport and pay attention, you start to see the complexity and technique involved. It’s a game that can be played by 45 year old fat guys with a beer (happily), but to play it well isn’t easy. In that way, it’s somewhat like billiards or bowling, except that the ice is never (ever) the same, and you’re constantly trying to adjust to changing conditions, and in bowling or billiards, if you understand the shot and have practiced enough, you’ll make the shot. So in many ways, curling’s tougher than both — but it’s still a sport you can play well into middle age (and beyond) if you want, and it’s a sport you can play socially. So there are many aspects to attraction. I don’t expect curling rinks to sprout up in southern states, but I do hope to see the interest and growth continue down in the states — it has a definite place in the recreational sports universe, if people pay attention.
To be honest, the curling in the olympics wasn’t that interesting to me, because substandard ice led to sub-standard curling. But they did the best they could, and the bronze medal in the men can only help visibility.
I was having this discussion at work this week, and someone said they felt it didn’t deserve to be in the olympics because there’s no endurance aspect to it. Not all sports are endurance tests or attacks on your VO2Max — if you look at things like baseball, it’s more skill and timing, or archery is technique and the ability to manage stress. So is target shooting. Yachting and many of the sailing sports are the ability to judge and manage the elements as much as anything — none of them really require a 6 minute mile, much less a four minute one.
Curling ratings went up this Olympics in the states, which I find encouraging — according to one report, CNBC saw ratings 700% higher than their NORMAL programming. Since this olympics didn’t have the “newness” of it being the surprise cinderella sport like it did last olympics, it indicates people were tuning in because they were curious and interested, not just because it was this new, weird thing. Here’s hoping we can keep moving it forward and make curling more visible in the states….
Having a ReplayTV meant that all of that sweet, sweet curling action was just waiting for me to get home from the hospital and plow through it. And I have to admit: up to now, my appreciation for the sport has been a bit of a goof. But after watching hours of it, I’ve realized that yes, it really is a sport, and that it’s a surprisingly interesting, strategic, and cerebral sport, at that.
update: Tom Benjamin talks about the same subject, defining sport in terms of ability to control muscle memory. An interesting concept that may well be on the right track….
Kevin Schofield: I ask you: how can you keep a straight face when protesting the judging in a so-called “sport” where the main goal is to beat your opponent unconscious?
The problem with Kevin’s comment is that this isn’t what amateur boxing is about. Amateur boxing is about technique and dominance. Do knockouts happen? Yes. But the rules are designed to protect boxers as much as possible. It’s about being better than your opponent, not hurting them.
It’s when they turn pro that the bread and circuses come out. Pro boxing is an abomination, but one with a long history.
But don’t think that they’re the same, just because they use the same equipment.
it’s legalized assault, and it’s glorified violence
so is wrestling, judo, american football, the way the NBA plays basketball, ice hockey, field hockey, water polo (watch the under water cameras, or try playing it yourself)… And pretty much any sport where you’re competing against others directly instead of against other performances.
Put two people in a ring against one another, and guess what? conflict happens. that’s human nature. Been that way since two bored cavemen picked up sticks next to the fire and beat on each other to see who was sleeping with the sheep that night.
Yes, I’m a fan of curling. deal with it.
So it was with some interest last year while watching the Brier that they were advertising a curling movie, Men With Brooms, starring Leslie Nielsen, Paul Gross, and Molly Parker.
Not surprisingly, it only played in theaters in Canada. To my surprise, I found it was available this year at amazon on video and DVD, so I grabbed a copy.
The story is right out of the Sports Movie Cliche Handbook: a team of curlers with great promise breaks up for reasons never really explained; the coach of the team dies of a heart attack, and leaves a video demanding the team get back together and fulfill his dream. Each team member has his own demons and challenges, but they rise to the occasion, suffer setbacks, break up, face their demons and get back together for the final run.
Leslie Nielsen plays the father of one of the team members and coach for the rebuilt team — and as the old guy in the movie who survives on pschelic mushrooms has some of the best lines in the movie, enhanced by his sense of timing.
But it’s not enough to save this movie. it can’t decide it it wants to be Bull Durham, Caddyshack, or some teenage raunch movie, so it tries to be all three at once, and succeeds at none of them.
The Bull Durham parts come from characters trying to face up to mistakes in their past to see if they live them down to succeed this time, and wondering if they still have it in them to do so.
The Caddyshack aspects come from the reality that you can’t have a Leslie Nielsen movie without comedy and slapstick. Unfortunately, none of it is sustained, and most of it just isn’t that funny, and all of it seems to be placed in the storyline to keep you from really getting to know or care about the characters trying to do the Bull Durham thing.
And then when they couldn’t figure out what else to do to move things along, they generally seemed to have decided to take a couple of the characters and send them more or less off-stage to get more or less naked, to do some more or less humping, most of which has little to do with the main plot. One of the taemmates, however, is strugglling against abysmally low sperm counts in his attempts to get his wife pregnant, which leads to the ability to randomly insert scenes of his wife running in yelling “honey! I’m ovulating” and them running off to go screw.
The movie is rife with anti-american sniping, which in all honesty, I don’t mind, except most of it isn’t all that well done.
Overall, I give the movie a C-. There are worse ways to waste an evening, but at the same time, it could have been a much better movie with some focus and better scriptwriting. As an intorduction to curling for non-curling fans, it’s pretty useless. I’d recommend this movie mostly to those looking to spend an evening where you don’t have to think too hard, and you don’t mind improving the movie with a couple of Molson’s or Moosehead’s.
(do they win the ultimate battle? Let’s just say the final battle comes down to winning at all costs vs. winning with honor, and honor wins out, but in a way I found ambiguous and unsatisfying…)