Thursday 11 February 2016

CTE - Countdown To Easter

Thanks to James for pointing out my rather embarrassing typo (now corrected) in the subject of yesterday's post. He even tried to give me an out by suggesting maybe I was employing a cunning play of words, but not on this occasion.

As for the post itself, the revelation that umpires have been involved in this way shouldn't be a huge surprise to anyone. It might sound harsh, but anyone betting blind on obscure events, in whatever sport, frankly deserves to lose their money. If I'm surprised at all, it's that there is actually enough money to be made from these events to justify the cost of bribing these officials. Where are all the losers coming from?

James - and I should point out here that I do have other readers (though perhaps not commenters) - commented on my Yobs post:

My trick vis-à-vis Liverpool was to go in June. Therefore, there was no danger of meeting any soccerist scally-wags.
However, I did get short-changed by the Chinese buffet across the road from Lime Street station. Mind you, I did have 8 plates from their "all you can eat buffet".

I suppose I shall now flop into bed and watch the Super Bowl. I am not as into it as I was during the 80s. It was the World of Sport's 15 minute highlights during the 70s that made me into a curious fan of the Steelers. Much to the annoyance of my school's gym master as we would often have a line of scrimmage, followed by a forward pass, during a game of rugger.
Good to know that James is doing everything he can to maintain his sylph-like figure.

As for the Super Bowl, I have to say that I am with James on this. When Channel 4 started covering the game in 1983, I would stay up for the whole thing for the next few years, but my enthusiasm for the sport has faded since then.

One reason is that the game just takes so long, and while it's not so bad when you're at home and have other distractions, watching a game live is frankly quite tedious (although the college version is much more fun).

Unlike its cousins, rugby or proper football, there is just no flow to the professional game. The frequent and lengthy stoppages are perfect for advertisers, and were also perfect for trading in the pre-court-siding era, but they don't do anything to make the game watch-able.

There's also the constant tweaking of a massive rule book, (at 86 pages, a simple game this is not), and there were no less than nine rule changes prior to the 2015 season.

The Onion reported on a few of the more unusual rules:
  • In order to meet with league requirements, the home team should have 36 balls for outdoor games and 24 for indoor games, all of which must be available for testing with a pressure gauge by the referee two hours prior to the start of the game. Jesus Christ
  • On a kickoff, the clock does not start until the ball has been legally touched by a player; if it is illegally touched, the player is sent to prison for life, although the clock still starts
  • There are 45 seconds between plays. Sounds simple enough, but as the clock ticks down, players have to shout out what each second is divided by three or face a 10-yard penalty
  • Players must catch the ball with the NFL logo right-side-up and facing the cameras in order for the reception to be ruled complete
  • Balls are to be spotted short for the Lions until a majority of officials on the field determine it's no longer funny, at which point the Lions automatically forfeit
  • The pylons and goalposts extend upward infinitely until they finally reach another universe where football is played sideways
  • Following a touchdown, players may spike, spin, or roll the football, though no rolls may contain a spinning motion and no spun balls may be rolled after the spin is completed; either results in a loss of touchdown.
  • By rule, the exact definition of pass interference shall forever remain as mysterious as the definition of love and elusive as the definition of beauty
It's also become clear in recent years just how much damage the game is doing to players physically. It's brutal, with Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) a major issue that could yet see the game's popularity decline significantly (to be replaced by rugby perhaps?) and with thousands of other players suffering life-changing physical injuries. The NFL reportedly reached a settlement in 2013 with around 4,500 former players (or their estates) with chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

A high profile, but by no means atypical, example of other non brain issues came just last week as the Super Bowl winning quarterback Peyton Manning was asked about injuries:
Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning has had four neck surgeries, including spinal fusion surgery in 2011, he's had major knee surgery, and Wednesday he said doctors have already told him he will need hip replacement surgery "at some point.''
Manning revealed the health nugget Wednesday when he was asked a question about the revelation from Boston University researchers that Hall of Famer quarterback Ken Stabler suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) and whether Manning had concerns about his health when he transitions into his post-NFL life.
If the Broncos move on from Peyton Manning after this season and the quarterback wants to continue his career, the Rams have discussed the possibility of bringing the future Hall of Famer aboard.
"Certainly when you have injuries, when you have surgeries, the doctors sometimes will mention to you, whether you ask him or not, you're probably headed for a, you know, a hip replacement at a certain time of your life,'' Manning said. "And I said 'Doc, I didn't ask you if I had to have a hip replacement, I didn't need to know that here at age 37, that's for sure.' And I look forward to that day when I'm 52 and have a hip replacement. You know, am I going to have some potential neck procedures down the road, I don't know the answer to that. The hip part was true, this doctor told me that. I've seen a lot of doctors and he was nice enough to share that information with me.''
It's also rather telling that the NFL are trying to fudge the numbers on how long the average NFL career is:
According to the NFL Players Association the average career length is about 3.3 years. The NFL claims that the average career is about 6 years (for players who make a club's opening day roster in their rookie season).
As this excellent Business Insider article concludes:
So yes, NFL. The average length of a career in your league six years... but only if you don't count anyone who is below average.
I'm not sure that's how averages work, but nice try, Number Fudging League.

Yes, other sports have their share of injuries, but in most they are incidental. American Football seems to share with boxing and other fighting sports that injuring opponents is part of the 'game'. Parents are less inclined to let their sons play the game than in years past - what used to be seen as a 'tough' game is now being seen in a more negative light:
That's exactly what Debra Pyka thought when she signed up her son, Joseph Chernach, for Pop Warner football in Wisconsin, then later in Michigan, when he was 11 years old, in 1997.
If only she knew then that her son would be dead at 25. Joseph hung himself in his mother's shed on June 7, 2012. His brain was later found to have severe CTE, a degenerative brain disease that has been linked to concussions in football. Joseph Chernach had played sports, including wrestling, pole vaulting and football most of his young life. But he spent almost four years playing Pop Warner football from ages 11 to 14.
"My son was the class comedian, loved school, always fun to be around," Pyka told me. "But we noticed after high school Joseph changed. He got depressed, angry, paranoid and withdrew from sports and his friends. We just didn't know why. After learning about CTE, I knew he had it even before we got the results. The symptoms were all there."
Finally, I am not a religious man, (my brain has yet to succumb to CTE, and is still capable of logical thought), I am told that yesterday was Ash Wednesday, the anniversary of Jesus's cremation presumably.

It marks the first day of Lent, a period when "many people, even non-churchgoers, will seek to give something up that they enjoy during Lent. Frequently this takes the shape of alcohol, chocolate or other ‘treats’."

Well that sounds like a whole lot of fun. After much deliberation, I've decided to give up watching any American Football. I have principles. If you choose to give up alcohol, chocolates or 'treats', you're a better man than me.

PS: I have it on good authority that James is planning on giving up his eighth buffet plate - not that seven visits is enough, as I also hear that James is busy working on a new food-stacking algorithm.   

1 comment:

James said...

That post was awesome dude! Can you tell me how to get...

Sorry, I don't know what came over me.

I must point out that I am not in the habit of eating 8 plates of Singapore noodles but if it's offered to me then I will, with all due reluctance, eat it. I decided to leave the 20p that I was short-changed by with my host in lieu of a tip. A miser I am not!

Ash Wednesday - I knew it was. After all I laid on pancakes for the padres (the relations not baseballers) the day before. However, last night I could take it no longer and had a cider, a bar of chocolate and a "treat". So that's me going to hell and accounts for my eye problems.

Proper football - Of course, we all know that to be Rugby, it being closer to the game from which Rugby Football and Association Football evolved from. Indeed both codes initially prohibited the forward pass and one code still does, to this day. Early soccerists had to dribble towards their opponents goal and either shoot or pass back to another player.

Although why they had to salivate towards their opponents goal I am not sure but heroin and cocaine was freely available at any local Boots apothecary back then and you know what these soccerists are like when it comes to excess. Pretty much like any 8 plate chomping maths and computing grad with time on his hands.

Brain damage from manly versions of football - There was a video on YouTube (I can no longer find it) about a programme along the lines of "Who Hits Harder, Rugby or Football (not soccer)". They did some scientific tests and showed that with all the padding footballers hit A LOT harder than rugby players. Does that mean that rugby players hold themselves back because they are not as heavily padded? I suppose with a helmet on you are more likely to go in head first. At school I was taught to go in with the shoulder but I usually just grabbed people from another school around the neck (an oik is still an oik). Until someone did it to me and I have had a twisted neck for the past 30+ years. Still, I have all my errr... you know... departments... schools... FACULTIES! That's the word.