8. Sports Snorts

Nov-30-2012 | Comments Off

Bird’s Eye: My piece was inspired by Gladwell’s, inclusively. And “Sports Porn” has no objectionable content. No, really. Don’t you trust me?

* Football, Dogfighting, And Brain Damage Malcolm Gladwell The New Yorker

When we think about football, we worry about the dangers posed by the heat and the fury of competition. Yet the hits data suggest that practice—the routine part of the sport—can be as dangerous as the games themselves. …This is a crucial point. Much of the attention in the football world, in the past few years, has been on concussions—on diagnosing, managing, and preventing them—and on figuring out how many concussions a player can have before he should call it quits. But a football player’s real issue isn’t simply with repetitive concussive trauma. It is, as the concussion specialist Robert Cantu argues, with repetitive sub concussive trauma. It’s not just the handful of big hits that matter. It’s lots of little hits, too.

That’s why, Cantu says, so many of the ex-players who have been given a diagnosis of C.T.E. were linemen: line play lends itself to lots of little hits. The hits data suggest that, in an average football season, a lineman could get struck in the head a thousand times, which means that a ten-year N.F.L. veteran, when you bring in his college and high-school playing days, could well have been hit in the head eighteen thousand times: that’s thousands of jarring blows that shake the brain from front to back and side to side, stretching and weakening and tearing the connections among nerve cells, and making the brain increasingly vulnerable to long-term damage. People with C.T.E., Cantu says, “aren’t necessarily people with a high, recognized concussion history. But they are individuals who collided heads on every play—repetitively doing this, year after year, under levels that were tolerable for them to continue to play.”

* Booting Football Peter Marmorek

I grew up in a sports-minded family, in a sport-obsessed society. We were in Québec, in the 1950s, a world dominated by an obsession with the hockey fortunes of the Montréal Canadiens, then captained by Rocket Richard. The Canadiens encompassed the spirit of Québec, a spirit that would, years later, find its political outlet in the Partie Québecois and separatism. But in those early days, when Quebec was run by the conservative Union Nationale and the Catholic church, it was only the Canadiens that spoke for the spirit of the people. My parents, and my grandparents followed tennis, and I can still remember sitting with my gentle grey-haired grandmother watching the Friday night boxing matches she loved, and learning the history of boxing from her. Her brother had played tennis in the Davis Cup, for Germany, in the past. As a family we went skiing together all through my childhood, and when we moved to Toronto for my last year and a half of high school, the only thing that helped me to survive the misery was the continual humiliation of the Toronto Maple Leafs by my beloved Montreal Canadiens. I played various sports, none as well as my brother did, but followed all sport with enthusiasm and passion. I was happy when my high school won, and shared the collective misery when we lost.

Yesterday was the 100th anniversary of the Grey Cup, the silver mug that represents the triumph of a team in the Canadian Football league. The hometown Toronto Argonauts won, defeating Calgary, in a victory that left me so indifferent that I didn’t even find out the score until this morning. Once, in the 1960s I had worked as a program seller for the Montreal Alouettes, a job that seemed amazing at the time: I got to make money and watch live football. But when the Argonauts defeated the Alouettes the previous week, I hadn’t even worked up enthusiasm enough to watch the game on the Russian website that was carrying an illegal feed. 

*Sports Porn via Reddit (safe for work)

7. Some Sports to Avoid

Sep-07-2012 | Comments Off

Bird’s Eye:  We ran a wingsuit piece last week and then found a much better one, while trying to figure out how they land at over 100 m.p.h. without splattering. The Formula One eye-level view gains a certain power after you look at the crash footage from last week’s race in Belgium. Football is increasingly something to avoid, and while limbo isn’t, I don’t want to think of what my body would do if I tried what this man does. (Your mileage may vary). And as for walking a tightrope between two trucks moving at 100 km/hr towards separate tunnels… ‘nuff said.

* Wingsuit Flying Vimeo

If you want to know more, Wikipedia has an excellent background on wing suit flying, which has an average speed of 180 km/hour.

* First Time Ever Eye-Level Camera Formula 1 The Presurfer 

Join in an installation lap in a Formula 1 car around the Spa-Franchorchamps circuit in Belgium in damp conditions with Lucas di Grassi. This is the first time ever eye-level camera real driver point of view. Lucas said he had to drive with only one eye open as the camera was blocking his other eye.

* F1 crash  The Guardian

* My Personal Struggle With The Future Of Football Travis Waldron ThinkProgress

Saturdays were, for as long as I can remember, reserved for college football; Sundays, for the National Football League. Those are blissful memories, before I knew about chronic traumatic encephalopathy, before thousands of former players sued the NFL over concussions sustained playing the game, before I learned that playing football even at the grade-school level can cause cognitive problems for the rest of a boy’s life.

I realized this weekend, during college football’s opening weekend, that I can’t watch the game the way I used to. Not after a summer filled with reports about the dangers of the game, a suicide perhaps caused by concussion-related depression, and a dispute over player safety. I notice every bone-crushing hit, every whip of the head, every helmet-to-helmet clash in a way I never have before, and I wince not just because my favourite team’s best player might be hurt, but because somewhere, at some level, young men are racking up seemingly routine hits that will affect them for the rest of their lives.

The thing that makes me wince hardest, though, is that I still watch.

…I’ve already made the decision that my hypothetical future son, should I have one, won’t be allowed on a football field. The proven dangers are too risky, the unproven dangers riskier still. I don’t want my child damaged beyond repair by a brutal hit; even more, I don’t want him cognitively mangled by repeated, constant bodily abuse. And yet, for some reason, I spend hours watching other people’s children do exactly that.

* Your Limbo Skills Are Inferior Twisted Sifter

* Volvo Trucks – The Tight Rope Stunt  YouTube

World record-holding high liner Faith Dickey battles in the wind to cross the line between two speeding trucks. Will she make it before the trucks reach the tunnel that lies behind the next bend?

12. Statistic of the Week and Quote of the Week

Aug-31-2012 | Comments Off

*  If officials awarded Lance Armstrong’s 2005 Tour De France title to the next fastest finisher who has never been linked to doping, they’d have to give it to the 23rd place finisher. Wikipedia

*  “I believe in an America where millions of Americans believe in an America that’s the America millions of Americans believe in. That’s the America I love.” Mitt Romney

5. The Olympics: Best of the Words

Aug-24-2012 | Comments Off

Bird’s Eye: The advantage of having missed reporting the Olympics is that Tikkunista can really choose the best articles. We have a rant by a woman weightlifter about the lack of respect she gets (compared to say, a beach volleyball player). There’s the saddest story in the Olympics, the most heroic story, and a new world 100 metre record for any creature, set by a cheetah who runs almost twice as fast as Usain Bolt. The video, while fascinating, is not as good as one that shows how fast Bolt might run if the cheetah were on the same track with him. In the Olympics, of course, cheetahs are never supposed to win.

* Thanks (but no thanks…)   zoepablosmith (UK Weight Lifter)

We don’t lift weights in order to look hot, especially for the likes of men like that. What makes them think that we even WANT them to find us attractive? If you do, thanks very much, we’re flattered. But if you don’t, why do you really need to voice this opinion in the first place, and what makes you think we actually give a toss that you, personally, do not find us attractive? What do you want us to do? Shall we stop weightlifting, amend our diet in order to completely get rid of our ‘manly’ muscles, and become housewives in the sheer hope that one day you will look more favourably upon us and we might actually have a shot with you?! Cause you are clearly the kindest, most attractive type of man to grace the earth with your presence.

Oh but wait, you aren’t. This may be shocking to you, but we actually would rather be attractive to people who aren’t closed-minded and ignorant. Crazy, eh?! We, as any women with an ounce of self-confidence would, prefer our men to be confident enough in themselves to not feel emasculated by the fact that we aren’t weak and feeble.
And here’s some food for thought – maybe you should broaden your criteria for what you consider ‘attractive’ anyway, because these perfect, feminine women you speak of probably have no interest in you either. 

* The Saddest Story in the Olympics

Monday, in the women’s fencing epee semifinal match between Britta Heidemann of Germany and Shin A Lam of South Korea, Lam led with one second left on the clock. All she had to do was not be touched in that one second and she would be advancing to the gold medal match. Unfortunately for Shin, the clock never started after the referee signaled to restart the match, giving Heidemann more than one second to land the winning touch.

Incensed, the Korean team paid to file an appeal of the decision, while Shin had to sit on the playing surface, known as a piste, to indicate that she did not accept the decision of the judges. She was there for over a half hour, with much of that time spent in tears, before the appeal was denied.

Shin remained on the piste after the decision was made in protest, before then being removed by security. She was then sent into the bronze medal match shortly after and, understandably still distraught, was defeated by China’s Yujie Sun. Shin should have been fencing for gold, but left empty handed.

Since the incident, it has come out that the timekeeper for the event was a 15 year old British volunteer. Really? This isn’t fencing class at the Y, this is the Olympics. There was nobody in the entire world with any timekeeping experience that could have been called upon to take on such an important task? When I was 15, I wouldn’t have had the attention span to do that job either. Whoever made the choice to put a child in charge of the clock for an Olympic event should be fired. 

U.S. Runner Manteo Mitchell Finishes 4X400-Meter Relay On Broken Leg   ESPN

Manteo Mitchell felt the pop in his leg and knew it wasn’t good. “It felt like somebody literally just snapped my leg in half,” he said. The American sprinter had half a lap to go in the first leg of the 4×400-meter relay preliminaries Thursday and a choice to make: keep running or stop and lose the race. To him, it was never much of a choice.

He finished the lap and limped to the side to watch the Americans finish the race and qualify easily for the final. A few hours later, doctors confirmed what he suspected: He had run the last 200 meters with a broken left fibula.

“I heard it and I felt it,” Mitchell told The Associated Press. “But I figured it’s what almost any person would’ve done in that situation.”

* Cheetah Breaks Speed Record—Beats Usain Bolt by Seconds National Geographic (includes video of Sarah)

Sarah the cheetah has shattered the world record for the standing 100-meter dash, clocking a time of 5.95 seconds—making Olympian Usain Bolt’s world record of 9.58 seconds look positively stodgy by comparison.

On a USA Track & Field-certified course established by the Cincinnati Zoo, the 11-year-old cheetah was radar-timed at up to 61 miles (98 kilometers) an hour, according to a Thursday announcement by zoo officials and National Geographic magazine…. Sarah’s June 20 sprint is the fastest timed 100 meters ever run by anything on the planet, the officials said.

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