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)