4. Athletes are Just Dying to Entertain You

Mar-04-2011 | Comments Off

Bird’s Eye: Kurt Vonnegut said it best, “One of the few good things about modern times: if you die horribly on television, you will not have died in vain. You will have entertained us.” It is increasingly clear that professional contact sports, to radically understate it, are not physically good for the people who play them. We start with a looong New Yorker article about professional football, append a recent horror story about a football player who felt himself going and how he chose to end it, and look at this week’s autopsy of Bob Probert, an ex-NHLer. Not entertaining enough? OK, here’s a video of a skier with a helmet-cam falling off a cliff. (He survived, so it’s all right to watch.)

* Football and the Concussion Crisis The New Yorker

What we now know, from reading Schwarz, is that retired N.F.L. players are five to nineteen times as likely as the general population to have received a dementia-related diagnosis; that the helmet-manufacturing industry is overseen by a volunteer consortium funded largely by helmet manufacturers; and that Lou Gehrig may not actually have had the disease that bears his name but suffered from concussion-related trauma instead.

…Koch said, only half kidding, “Or what about a whole pneumatic suit that a fan could step into, and that would be telemetrically linked to a player on the field, at seventy per cent or fifty per cent—you could adjust the dial to your liking—and actually have the fan experience what the player is going through?” Koch broke his lumbar vertebrae in his third season, and, because he was otherwise in such good shape, continued to play for three more years. He now suffers from depression, and is sometimes unable to get out of bed for extended periods. His legs go numb if he stands for too long.

* N.F.L. Players Shaken by Duerson’s Suicide Message New York Times

When the former football player Andre Waters shot himself in the head in late 2006, the few recoverable pieces of brain tissue, which later showed the same degenerative disease previously associated only with boxers, made the health risks of football a national conversation. Football’s ramifications so concerned the former Chicago Bear Dave Duerson that, after deciding to kill himself last Thursday, he shot himself in the chest, apparently so that his brain could remain intact for similar examination.

* Brain trauma and Hockey CBC News

The Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy in Boston issued a statement Thursday saying that NHL’s Bob Probert had chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) when he died last July of heart failure at age 45. Probert, who lived in Windsor, Ont., played 16 seasons in the NHL for Detroit and Chicago between 1995-2002. He racked up 3,300 penalty minutes during his hockey career.

* Skier Falls Down a Cliff, Captures the Whole Thing on His Head-Cam – Urlesque

Ever wonder what it might look like to fall off a cliff in first person mode, but don’t feel the need to leave the comfort of your computer? Well wonder no more, because one skier managed to capture his tumble down the side of a mountain all on his head-cam. While putting on his skis, preparing for what would have been a fun day at the slopes, this thrill-seeker lost his footing and dropped like a boulder down a rocky crag and into a snow bed below.



5. The World Cup

Jun-11-2010 | Comments Off

Bird’s-Eye: The most important sporting event in the world (judged by money, of course) starts today. We explore it all: an in-depth overview from the Guardian on football and Africa in general, and a scathing Znet look (their most common style, really) at South Africa and the World Cup in particular. Then we have two sets of FIFA graphics (ESPN and Charis Tsevis) and a Big Pictures set of images.

* 2010 World Cup: Is Africa Football’s Unheralded Star? The Guardian

The arrival of the World Cup – the showpiece for the world’s most lucrative pastime – in Africa, the world’s poorest continent, is clearly an event of deep symbolism. But symbolic of what? For Thabo Mbeki, who as South African president was at the forefront of the bid to host the tournament, this is the moment when Africa finally arrives on the global stage. … “ We want to ensure that one day historians will reflect upon the 2010 World Cup as a moment when Africa stood tall and resolutely turned the tide on centuries of poverty and conflict.” Even by the standards of the hyperbolic guff that always surrounds major sports events, this is setting the bar pretty high. In reality, sports tournaments rarely do much to transform the fortunes of the countries that host them – at least not for the better – let alone change the fate of whole continents. But they can tell us a lot about where power really lies. What the 2010 World Cup clearly shows is that Africa is now a serious player in the world of football.

* South Africa’s World Cup Fest Not Worth The Coming Hangover by Patrick Bond ZSpace

But balancing psychological benefits against vast socio-economic and political costs is vital, for we will hear plenty about the latter from visitors who will see us at our best and worst. One of the world’s greatest sportswriters, Dave Zirin, called Durban’s new Moses Mabhida Stadium the most breathtaking he’d ever seen, but provided us a needed reality check: “This is a country where staggering wealth and poverty already stand side by side. The World Cup, far from helping this situation, is just putting a magnifying glass on every blemish of this post-apartheid nation.”

* World Cup Images

Two sets of images, one from ESPN World Cup Murals and a brilliant set by Charis Tsevis,  “inspired by African pattern heritage”

* Preparing for the World Cup The Big Picture







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