What's new
Fantasy Football - Footballguys Forums

Welcome to Our Forums. Once you've registered and logged in, you're primed to talk football, among other topics, with the sharpest and most experienced fantasy players on the internet.

Football makes us crazy (1 Viewer)

DiStefano

Footballguy
Recent column:

[SIZE=47.77777862548828px]A[/SIZE][SIZE=1em]mazon’s one-time chief financial officer, Joy Covey, who joined the $60 billion company in 1996 when its annual sales reached $16 million, tragically left us last week. Covey, like about 700 other Americans this past year, died in a bicycling accident.[/SIZE]

The passing of the former Amazon CFO may have been the only bicycling death you heard about last week. But at least a dozen took place in the United States. Two Massachusetts women who were cycling for charity died in Hampton, N.H., after an oncoming driver veered into their lane of traffic. A hit-and-run driver killed a homeless couple bicycling late at night in Chapel Hill, N.C. An eighth-grader in Hopkinton, Mass., and a 25-year-old near Grand Junction, Colo., met the same fate while riding on busy roads. Other such fatalities occurred in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Florida, and points beyond.

More Americans died from cycling accidents last week than died from football hits during the last three seasons combined. The tragedies led no one to call for a ban on bikes. Everybody seems to comprehend that the positives in health and transportation outweigh the considerable negatives of the pedal-powered vehicles. This measured perspective doesn’t extend to our collective view of tackle football, a far less deadly activity that, like biking, provides myriad social and health benefits.

We think of cycling as a serene experience; football, as a violent one. But SUVs loom more ominously than linebackers, asphalt serves as a more dangerous playing surface than grass, and expensive Schwinns move faster than free safeties. Though the intent of nose guards may be to hurt you, the outcome of the game they play proves less dangerous than any number of uncontroversial outdoor activities. When the risks of any sport are assessed, results should matter more than intent.

One thousand times more Americans die from swimming than from football hits. Last year, skateboarding collisions killed 15 times as many Americans as football collisions did. About twelve times as many people die annually from crashes on the ski slopes than die from crashes on the gridiron.

If you’re wearing a Riddell or Schutt helmet when you die, the Drudge Report surely will highlight your passing. If you’re not wearing a helmet in a fatal riding or skiing crash, Matt Drudge probably won’t notice. The war on football is as much a clash between perception and reality as anything else.

When journalists do notice serious injuries in sports not named football, calls for abolition do not usually follow.

After Michael Ybarra, a Wall Street Journal “extreme sports correspondent,” died from a climbing fall in the Sierra Nevada Mountains near Yosemite National Park last year, no national debate emerged over the wisdom of mountaineering. The celebrity skiing deaths of Michael Kennedy, Representative Sonny Bono, and actress Natasha Richardson thankfully led to an uptick in helmets on the slopes but not in calls to abandon the sport. Caleb Moore’s death while snowmobiling at the Winter X Games earlier this year hasn’t led to a lawsuit against the event or equipment manufacturers. Football plays by a separate set of rules.

If the debate over football were about safety, then the scolds seeking to prohibit the game would table their ambition until after doing away with skiing, skateboarding, cycling, and dozens of other deadlier sports.

Safety works as a false front for what’s really motivating the attacks on America’s game. Rough and muddy football clashes with our increasingly risk-averse, passive-aggressive, unsoiled society. It doesn’t fit in a world of parentally monitored play dates, Xbox babysitters, and trophies for everyone. The war on football is a cultural tic calling itself a public-health crusade.

Football competes on a rigged playing field vis-à-vis other sports. Our standards for it, partly because of its popularity, are more stringent than our standards for other sports. If a fatality occurs in cycling, it doesn’t register unless it happened to Amazon’s CFO or someone similarly famous. When such an injury claims the life of an anonymous football player, every journalistic outlet runs with the story in part because it plays into an existing storyline.

This creepy exploitation of tragedy reinforces an impression about football that is at variance with the facts. Football is safer than it ever has been — and safer than many uncontroversial pastimes ever will be.

Football makes fans crazy. Its distortion of the senses influences the game’s critics, too.

— Daniel J. Flynn is the author of The War on Football: Saving America’s Game.

 

Adam Harstad

Moderator
Ummm... first, this is a terrible use of statistics. More Americans die riding their bikes than playing football because more Americans ride bikes than play football. More Americans die while taking a bath every year than die while riding a bull, but would anyone say that taking a bath is more dangerous than riding a bull?

Second, I think the biggest criticism of football isn't that you're likely to die while playing it, it's that you're likely to suffer major irreversible brain damage while playing it. How many collisions does the typical bicyclist get into? Because the typical football player gets into 30+ a game, plus many times more than that in practice every week. Somehow, the slogan "Football: it's less likely to kill you than riding a bike, (even if it will give you early-onset Alzheimers and dramatically increase the chances you put a gun in your mouth and eat the bullet)" doesn't seem all that friendly.

My wife works doing rehab with people who suffered brain injuries. They're no joke. Our brain is all we are, and it's not worth messing around with, even for the sake of the greatest sport ever invented. I'll gladly buy my son all the bicycles he wants, but I would much rather he not play football unless he wants to be a kicker.

 

jvdesigns2002

Footballguy
Ummm... first, this is a terrible use of statistics. More Americans die riding their bikes than playing football because more Americans ride bikes than play football. More Americans die while taking a bath every year than die while riding a bull, but would anyone say that taking a bath is more dangerous than riding a bull?

Second, I think the biggest criticism of football isn't that you're likely to die while playing it, it's that you're likely to suffer major irreversible brain damage while playing it. How many collisions does the typical bicyclist get into? Because the typical football player gets into 30+ a game, plus many times more than that in practice every week. Somehow, the slogan "Football: it's less likely to kill you than riding a bike, (even if it will give you early-onset Alzheimers and dramatically increase the chances you put a gun in your mouth and eat the bullet)" doesn't seem all that friendly.

My wife works doing rehab with people who suffered brain injuries. They're no joke. Our brain is all we are, and it's not worth messing around with, even for the sake of the greatest sport ever invented. I'll gladly buy my son all the bicycles he wants, but I would much rather he not play football unless he wants to be a kicker.
My thoughts exactly--comparing football to a mode of transportation is mind boggling stupid. I love how this article tries to use relative danger in the real world as a way of saying that the dangers of football are over-exaggerated. Seems to me that this article would be better off trying to argue that cycling should use football as a model of how they should work to make that activity safer.

 

cobalt_27

Footballguy
Ummm... first, this is a terrible use of statistics. More Americans die riding their bikes than playing football because more Americans ride bikes than play football. More Americans die while taking a bath every year than die while riding a bull, but would anyone say that taking a bath is more dangerous than riding a bull?

Second, I think the biggest criticism of football isn't that you're likely to die while playing it, it's that you're likely to suffer major irreversible brain damage while playing it. How many collisions does the typical bicyclist get into? Because the typical football player gets into 30+ a game, plus many times more than that in practice every week. Somehow, the slogan "Football: it's less likely to kill you than riding a bike, (even if it will give you early-onset Alzheimers and dramatically increase the chances you put a gun in your mouth and eat the bullet)" doesn't seem all that friendly.

My wife works doing rehab with people who suffered brain injuries. They're no joke. Our brain is all we are, and it's not worth messing around with, even for the sake of the greatest sport ever invented. I'll gladly buy my son all the bicycles he wants, but I would much rather he not play football unless he wants to be a kicker.
Mis-statement or typo? The most recent data indicate nothing of the sort. In fact, rates of neurodegenerative diseases in NFL players are no greater than in the general population; in fact I think the rates are lower. But, it certainly is inaccurate to say that you are likely to suffer irreversible brain damage playing the sport. Vast majority survive just fine, even those who sustain multiple concussions and thousands of sub-concussive blows in their lifetime.Agree with you the article is a disaster.

 
Last edited by a moderator:

Adam Harstad

Moderator
Ummm... first, this is a terrible use of statistics. More Americans die riding their bikes than playing football because more Americans ride bikes than play football. More Americans die while taking a bath every year than die while riding a bull, but would anyone say that taking a bath is more dangerous than riding a bull?

Second, I think the biggest criticism of football isn't that you're likely to die while playing it, it's that you're likely to suffer major irreversible brain damage while playing it. How many collisions does the typical bicyclist get into? Because the typical football player gets into 30+ a game, plus many times more than that in practice every week. Somehow, the slogan "Football: it's less likely to kill you than riding a bike, (even if it will give you early-onset Alzheimers and dramatically increase the chances you put a gun in your mouth and eat the bullet)" doesn't seem all that friendly.

My wife works doing rehab with people who suffered brain injuries. They're no joke. Our brain is all we are, and it's not worth messing around with, even for the sake of the greatest sport ever invented. I'll gladly buy my son all the bicycles he wants, but I would much rather he not play football unless he wants to be a kicker.
Mis-statement or typo? The most recent data indicate nothing of the sort. In fact, rates of neurodegenerative diseases in NFL players are no greater than in the general population; in fact I think the rates are lower. But, it certainly is inaccurate to say that you are likely to suffer irreversible brain damage playing the sport. Vast majority survive just fine, even those who sustain multiple concussions and thousands of sub-concussive blows in their lifetime.Agree with you the article is a disaster.
I was unfamiliar with the data to which you're referring. The last I had heard was about Dr. Ben Omalu's research and the near-ubiquity of CTE among football players. After reading your post, I did a quick search and found reports of a study that called into question the role of CTE, noting that athletes with mild cognitive impairment were no more impaired than non-athletes with MCI, but that study also noted how shockingly high the rates of MCI were among the population of football players, with a third of the sample showing signs of MCI. So, basically, it's saying "yes, football players suffer brain damage at a much higher rate than the general population, but this is just garden-variety brain damage instead of some new condition like Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy".

Was that the recent data you were referencing, or is there somewhere else you can point me regarding the subject? Or am I perhaps misunderstanding the conclusions of the study I linked?

 
Last edited by a moderator:

cobalt_27

Footballguy
Ummm... first, this is a terrible use of statistics. More Americans die riding their bikes than playing football because more Americans ride bikes than play football. More Americans die while taking a bath every year than die while riding a bull, but would anyone say that taking a bath is more dangerous than riding a bull?

Second, I think the biggest criticism of football isn't that you're likely to die while playing it, it's that you're likely to suffer major irreversible brain damage while playing it. How many collisions does the typical bicyclist get into? Because the typical football player gets into 30+ a game, plus many times more than that in practice every week. Somehow, the slogan "Football: it's less likely to kill you than riding a bike, (even if it will give you early-onset Alzheimers and dramatically increase the chances you put a gun in your mouth and eat the bullet)" doesn't seem all that friendly.

My wife works doing rehab with people who suffered brain injuries. They're no joke. Our brain is all we are, and it's not worth messing around with, even for the sake of the greatest sport ever invented. I'll gladly buy my son all the bicycles he wants, but I would much rather he not play football unless he wants to be a kicker.
Mis-statement or typo? The most recent data indicate nothing of the sort. In fact, rates of neurodegenerative diseases in NFL players are no greater than in the general population; in fact I think the rates are lower. But, it certainly is inaccurate to say that you are likely to suffer irreversible brain damage playing the sport. Vast majority survive just fine, even those who sustain multiple concussions and thousands of sub-concussive blows in their lifetime.Agree with you the article is a disaster.
I was unfamiliar with the data to which you're referring. The last I had heard was about Dr. Ben Omalu's research and the near-ubiquity of CTE among football players. After reading your post, I did a quick search and found reports of a study that called into question the role of CTE, noting that athletes with mild cognitive impairment were no more impaired than non-athletes with MCI, but that study also noted how shockingly high the rates of MCI were among the population of football players, with a third of the sample showing signs of MCI. So, basically, it's saying "yes, football players suffer brain damage at a much higher rate than the general population, but this is just garden-variety brain damage instead of some new condition like Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy".

Was that the recent data you were referencing, or is there somewhere else you can point me regarding the subject? Or am I perhaps misunderstanding the conclusions of the study I linked?
Sounds like one of them. Omalu and the Boston University group are the primary labs conducting research on CTE. It is a controversial topic, and it is unclear at this point what we are even observing. But, the bottom line is the consensus statement from the world's leading experts in neuroscience met in Zurich this past year and issued a consensus statement (McCrory et al., 2013) that was quite cautionary and unfavorable to the conclusions the CTE groups are trying to make, asserting that concussions cause CTE. This ultimately be an associative relationship, but it isn't causative, and many people are concerned with the recklessness with which some of these assertions are being presented without sufficient science.

In regard to your read on the Omalu study, his group and the BU folks have acknowledged their case study design (a problem in and of itself) is vulnerable to ascertainment bias. They have a self-selecting sample predominantly made up of individuals who we're exhibiting cognitive impairments. If you and I set up our own brain lab to investigate the relationship between neurodegenerative disorders in carpenters and advertised to families whose deceased carpenter loved ones were exhibiting concerning behaviors prior to their death, I guarantee we would find an inordinate percentage of those brains to have signs of neurodegenerative pathology. And to conclude that carpentry was the cause of this would be wrought with the same problems Omalu and the Stern, McKee, Cantu groups have when confronted by other neurologists and neuroscientists when presenting their findings on deceased NFL players. They have less push back with the media, but that's another story.

Bottom line, much is unclear still as to what CTE is, as many other tauopathies have been known for decades, and we have no idea what other risk factors are out there. Conceding for a minute that history of concussions put one at risk for CTE, it certainly is not the only risk factor for CTE. Countless contact sport participants have had multiple concussions, thousands of sub-concussive blows, and survive to live healthy lives without cognitive impairment or neurodegenerative disorders. In fact, the vast majority do not go on to develop any more cognitive issues than what you would find normally occurring in the general population.

 
Last edited by a moderator:

cobalt_27

Footballguy
Christopher Randolph and Kevin Guskiewicz are strong researchers who are doing preliminary work on investigating cognitive impairment in athletes. My read on the extant literature is that the findings are mixed, and this research is in it's infancy. Solid epidemiological studies on CTE, or heck just plain old cognitive impairment in athletes is lacking. But, there is no evidence to suggest (and I find it highly implausible) that most football players are getting dementia or mild cognitive impairment earlier than their peers. Even if we do determine that there is increased prevalence of cognitive dysfunction in contact sport participants, it's a long leap before we get to the idea that you are likely to suffer irreversible brain damage playing football.

This is not an endorsement to go out tomorrow and bang your skull into a brick wall. I'm just concerned that the discussion is slipping out of control and making everyone panic over concussions when the proclamations that have been offered over the past 5 years since this line of research began getting so much attention (and funding) are far outpacing the actual science.

 
Last edited by a moderator:

cobalt_27

Footballguy
Ummm... first, this is a terrible use of statistics. More Americans die riding their bikes than playing football because more Americans ride bikes than play football. More Americans die while taking a bath every year than die while riding a bull, but would anyone say that taking a bath is more dangerous than riding a bull?

Second, I think the biggest criticism of football isn't that you're likely to die while playing it, it's that you're likely to suffer major irreversible brain damage while playing it. How many collisions does the typical bicyclist get into? Because the typical football player gets into 30+ a game, plus many times more than that in practice every week. Somehow, the slogan "Football: it's less likely to kill you than riding a bike, (even if it will give you early-onset Alzheimers and dramatically increase the chances you put a gun in your mouth and eat the bullet)" doesn't seem all that friendly.

My wife works doing rehab with people who suffered brain injuries. They're no joke. Our brain is all we are, and it's not worth messing around with, even for the sake of the greatest sport ever invented. I'll gladly buy my son all the bicycles he wants, but I would much rather he not play football unless he wants to be a kicker.
Mis-statement or typo? The most recent data indicate nothing of the sort. In fact, rates of neurodegenerative diseases in NFL players are no greater than in the general population; in fact I think the rates are lower. But, it certainly is inaccurate to say that you are likely to suffer irreversible brain damage playing the sport. Vast majority survive just fine, even those who sustain multiple concussions and thousands of sub-concussive blows in their lifetime.Agree with you the article is a disaster.
I was unfamiliar with the data to which you're referring. The last I had heard was about Dr. Ben Omalu's research and the near-ubiquity of CTE among football players. After reading your post, I did a quick search and found reports of a study that called into question the role of CTE, noting that athletes with mild cognitive impairment were no more impaired than non-athletes with MCI, but that study also noted how shockingly high the rates of MCI were among the population of football players, with a third of the sample showing signs of MCI. So, basically, it's saying "yes, football players suffer brain damage at a much higher rate than the general population, but this is just garden-variety brain damage instead of some new condition like Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy".

Was that the recent data you were referencing, or is there somewhere else you can point me regarding the subject? Or am I perhaps misunderstanding the conclusions of the study I linked?
By the way, I just logged into medscape and saw that you cited one of the Randolph studies. One point of clarification...I need to look at the study itself, but the medscape summary indicated that over a third of the caregiver surveys indicated concerns about cognitive impairment, but that's not the same as actually showing signs of impairment. Caregiver reports often over- or under-estimate what's going on. I need to see his RBANS data to get a true representation of how those folks were actually functioning.

Also, without seeing the study design, it's possible his group of NFL retiree participants chose to be in the study because they were having cognitive issues and/or family pressure cajoled them to study, whereas a greater proportion of unaffected NFL players didn't bother to participate. This is a common problem in research and is what the CTE groups struggle with (all will be better in prospective design with a brain databank, but that's decades away). Nonetheless, the fact that the NFL group exhibited greater problems than healthy controls doesn't surprise me. The fact that they performed no worse than MCI peers is surprising if we embrace the concussion-neurodegenerative disorder connection.

 

cobalt_27

Footballguy
Getting hit in the head repeatedly can cause brain damagamage... this ain't rocket surgery.
I'd like to hear from the rocket surgeons here. ;-)Of course getting hit in the head can cause permanent brain damage.

On the other hand, getting hit in the head and sustaining a concussion usually does not cause permanent brain damage. Getting hit multiple times also usually does not cause permanent damage. So, what causes some to have impairment and structural brain changes versus others who don't is one of the many open questions being investigated by neuroscientists.

 
Last edited by a moderator:

pghrob

Hail to the Chief
Here I thought this thread was going to be about fantasy football ball addiction and the demise of families in America from September to January.

 

coolnerd

Footballguy
Here I thought this thread was going to be about fantasy football ball addiction and the demise of families in America from September to January.
Yeah, poorly titled, but there are things like links to actual facts and well thought out opinions.

 

pghrob

Hail to the Chief
Here I thought this thread was going to be about fantasy football ball addiction and the demise of families in America from September to January.
Yeah, poorly titled, but there are things like links to actual facts and well thought out opinions.
Agreed 100%. It is a very thought provoking piece that can certainly stimulate further discussion on the important debate of the mental and neurological risks associated with playing American football.

 

Adam Harstad

Moderator
Thanks for the responses, Cobalt. I understand that CTE is really little more than dot-connecting and guesswork at this point, which is why more research is needed. Whether CTE is the mechanism or not, though, it seems to me that it's more likely that football increases one's chances of brain damage than not. I'm undoubtedly biased by my own experiences with brain injury (as I mentioned, my wife does rehab with people with TBIs, and I've worked in the field as well in the past), but I firmly believe that our mind is the sum total of who we are. If someone has a leg or an arm amputated, they are still the same person. If someone gains 150 pounds, or becomes paralyzed from the neck down, they are still the same person. If someone suffers a severe brain injury, they are frequently no longer the same person. The person they were is completely gone and replaced by someone new. That, to me, is terrifying. Unless and until the medical literature becomes a lot more unequivocal on the matter, there is no way I would feel comfortable letting my son take that kind of risk.

 

cobalt_27

Footballguy
Thanks for the responses, Cobalt. I understand that CTE is really little more than dot-connecting and guesswork at this point, which is why more research is needed. Whether CTE is the mechanism or not, though, it seems to me that it's more likely that football increases one's chances of brain damage than not. I'm undoubtedly biased by my own experiences with brain injury (as I mentioned, my wife does rehab with people with TBIs, and I've worked in the field as well in the past), but I firmly believe that our mind is the sum total of who we are. If someone has a leg or an arm amputated, they are still the same person. If someone gains 150 pounds, or becomes paralyzed from the neck down, they are still the same person. If someone suffers a severe brain injury, they are frequently no longer the same person. The person they were is completely gone and replaced by someone new. That, to me, is terrifying. Unless and until the medical literature becomes a lot more unequivocal on the matter, there is no way I would feel comfortable letting my son take that kind of risk.
I could not agree more. There are a host of reasons I would discourage my daughter from playing football, training for UFC, or doing anything that puts her brain, neck, body at risk for serious injury. I'm not going to panic over a concussion or two, but even if they aren't as catastrophic as some propose, getting a head injury is not good. And whatever activity it is, if she were to keep getting concussions, that would be cause for concern and reason enough for me to redirect to some other activity, even if I am skeptical about the whole CTE business.

 

renesauz

IBL Representative
Ummm... first, this is a terrible use of statistics. More Americans die riding their bikes than playing football because more Americans ride bikes than play football. More Americans die while taking a bath every year than die while riding a bull, but would anyone say that taking a bath is more dangerous than riding a bull?

Second, I think the biggest criticism of football isn't that you're likely to die while playing it, it's that you're likely to suffer major irreversible brain damage while playing it. How many collisions does the typical bicyclist get into? Because the typical football player gets into 30+ a game, plus many times more than that in practice every week. Somehow, the slogan "Football: it's less likely to kill you than riding a bike, (even if it will give you early-onset Alzheimers and dramatically increase the chances you put a gun in your mouth and eat the bullet)" doesn't seem all that friendly.

My wife works doing rehab with people who suffered brain injuries. They're no joke. Our brain is all we are, and it's not worth messing around with, even for the sake of the greatest sport ever invented. I'll gladly buy my son all the bicycles he wants, but I would much rather he not play football unless he wants to be a kicker.
While I understand your general take, I disagree wholeheartedly. While you make some good points...so did the author. Skiing is indeed far more dangerous than football, as are a number of other common things in life. The dangers of football are, IMO, greatly exaggerated.

 

Adam Harstad

Moderator
renesauz said:
Ummm... first, this is a terrible use of statistics. More Americans die riding their bikes than playing football because more Americans ride bikes than play football. More Americans die while taking a bath every year than die while riding a bull, but would anyone say that taking a bath is more dangerous than riding a bull?

Second, I think the biggest criticism of football isn't that you're likely to die while playing it, it's that you're likely to suffer major irreversible brain damage while playing it. How many collisions does the typical bicyclist get into? Because the typical football player gets into 30+ a game, plus many times more than that in practice every week. Somehow, the slogan "Football: it's less likely to kill you than riding a bike, (even if it will give you early-onset Alzheimers and dramatically increase the chances you put a gun in your mouth and eat the bullet)" doesn't seem all that friendly.

My wife works doing rehab with people who suffered brain injuries. They're no joke. Our brain is all we are, and it's not worth messing around with, even for the sake of the greatest sport ever invented. I'll gladly buy my son all the bicycles he wants, but I would much rather he not play football unless he wants to be a kicker.
While I understand your general take, I disagree wholeheartedly. While you make some good points...so did the author. Skiing is indeed far more dangerous than football, as are a number of other common things in life. The dangers of football are, IMO, greatly exaggerated.
I do agree that skiing is more dangerous than football, actually. At least, on a per-unit-of-time basis (i.e. going skiing two days a year on vacation is probably safer than playing football for a full season). And I even think that the dangers of bicycling are underrated, especially biking on city streets. I'm just saying, the way the author went about making the comparisons was entirely screwy, because he didn't adjust for the prevalence of biking vs. football, and because he implied that people were concerned about football because they were worried people would die (a very minor concern), and not because they were worried people would suffer life-changing brain damage (a much less minor concern).

Football isn't the most dangerous thing in the world. I have a cousin who is into mountaineering, which is one of the craziest things I could imagine doing. If my son's high school has a mountaineering team, there's no way I'd sign off on that. I'm a big fan of bike riding, but I'd discourage my son from doing it on busy city streets. None of this means that football isn't dangerous. Unless you're a kicker, there's pretty much no way to play the game without incurring brain trauma. Science is still divided on the long-term impacts of that brain trauma, but it's clear that playing football is literally the equivalent of banging your head against a brick wall dozens of times a week. It is fundamentally different from riding a bike. Making that comparison is disingenuous and misses the point.

 

Users who are viewing this thread

Top