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Thread: PBS Frontline: "League of Denial"

  1. #1
    Titanic Struggles Caveat Emperor's Avatar
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    PBS Frontline: "League of Denial"

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontl...gue-of-denial/

    Did anyone else watch this last night?

    My one major takeaway (although, I kind of knew it already) was that the NFL was shameful in how it ignored the struggles of former players suffering with brain injuries. You would think a league as rich as the NFL would just quietly offer suffering former players money just to shut them up.
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    For a Level Playing Field RedFanAlways1966's Avatar
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    Re: PBS Frontline: "League of Denial"

    I watched it and enjoyed the show. Made me think about a few things.

    * I take all reports from the media with a grain of salt.
    * The NFL cares more about money than players who are no longer useful to their money-making ways.
    * We all know that football is dangerous. Just like a hang-gliding or skydiving person knows their are risks with certain things they choose to do in their life.
    * How are sports like football, boxing, auto racing, boat racing, etc legal?

    I do not have any answers. And as usual a Frontline program made me think.
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    Rally Onion! Chip R's Avatar
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    Re: PBS Frontline: "League of Denial"

    I watched it too. No offense to any lawyers here but decisions like that happen when lawyers are involved. The NFL - much like the tobacco companies - couldn't admit their product was unsafe and had long-term detrimental effects on their health. Writing a check for hush money would be admitting that.

    I hate to sound callous but players share a certain amount of blame here. It's very understandable that if they get hurt, they want to get back in the game and damn the long-term effects. Even in this more enlightened age, if a player suffers an injury - such as a concussion - and even if you could prove to them that years from now they are going to have severe problems; most of them are going to want to go back into the game and you really can't fault them for that.

    I think Chris Nowinski has a very, very difficult job and I would not want it.

    I think they made a very good point about sub-concussive hits. It's scary to think that you may have CTE without ever suffering a concussion.

    I noticed they never even talked about the players' union and what they are and aren't doing about this problem.

    I thought that was a total dick move by Goodell to not allow the wife of that player into that meeting.

    That Pop Warner team had a better introduction than a lot of HS and college teams.

    Unfortunately there are no easy solutions to this issue.
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    Titanic Struggles Caveat Emperor's Avatar
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    Re: PBS Frontline: "League of Denial"

    Seeing Chris Nowinski involved in this was kinda surprising -- I actually remember watching him wrestle in the WWF back in the proverbial day.

    I get Chip's point about lawyers, but you can craft settlements (quietly) with players & families that absolve the NFL of liability while taking care of these people. Settlements like that happen every day in the business world.

    On the science front, I had a difficult time with the high school kid showing signs of CTE in this regard -- the evidence was presented by the researchers (I assume) to underline the danger of football at any time and at any level. However, if that's case, there should be hundreds of thousands of ex-HS football players (even ones who never took the next step to play in college) suffering from dementia. That doesn't seem to be the case.

    I think the takeaway is that playing football at the NFL level (and the daily pounding it took to get and stay there) is dangerous, but I think we're still missing the "Unsafe at Any Speed" evidence that football, as a sport, is harmful.
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    Re: PBS Frontline: "League of Denial"

    I can't back this up with anything but perception, but to me, the biggest leap of f=m*a in the last decade has come at the high-school level, and in the future we're going to see more guys who didn't play past preps who have these symptoms.

    I do agree with CE -- serious CTE resulting in dementia is going to be rare for a kid who never played college or pro ball. But it doesn't have to be that bad to impact a person's quality of life down the road, especially if they get the second-concussion syndrome where the brain hasn't finished healing from the first one. What's the price tag on being a little bit less mentally sharp for the rest of our lives than we otherwise would have been? Impossible to say, right?
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    Rally Onion! Chip R's Avatar
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    Re: PBS Frontline: "League of Denial"

    This subject has intrigued me ever since I was in high school back in the early 80s. I even did a term paper on Violence in Football when I was a senior. I took 90% of my information from John Underwood's Brutality in Football series he wrote for SI in August of 78. Underwood mainly wrote about the problems hitting with the helmet first caused. Underwood didn't mention concussions in his series but this was 35 years ago. Most of the source material I used was from the first part of the series.

    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vau...3971/index.htm
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    Re: PBS Frontline: "League of Denial"

    Quote Originally Posted by Caveat Emperor View Post
    Seeing Chris Nowinski involved in this was kinda surprising -- I actually remember watching him wrestle in the WWF back in the proverbial day.
    He really had a lot of potential but could never recover from those concussions (and Edge and Rey Mysterio crushing his face at the 2003 Royal Rumble). Luckily he had that Harvard degree to fall back on.
    "Since I've been with the Reds in 1989, we've never had a farm system this loaded," Bowden said. "If we were the New York Yankees and had unlimited dollars, we could have traded for Colon, (Jeff) Weaver, Rolen, (Cliff) Floyd, (Kenny) Rogers and Finley and gotten them all -- and still held onto our top five prospects. That's an amazing statement."

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    Re: PBS Frontline: "League of Denial"

    I DVR'd this last night and look forward to watching it. I can remember in high school I had typing class with one of the football players. I can remember him coming in to class after getting kocked out in the game the friday before. He talked about how zoned out he was after that hit and couldn't remember much of what else happened in the game. He said his head was still hurting some that day. I'm sure he had a concussion and was never diagnosed with it. I don't remember now but I would say he played later that week in the next game.
    I think the more we learn about the effects of head injuries in football the more parents will keep their boys from playing it in high school or playing it ever at all. I really could see a day, quite a ways in the future, where there just aren't enough boys playing to keep football going. I doubt I will ever live to see it but certainly could forsee this happening.
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    Re: PBS Frontline: "League of Denial"

    I've lost count of how many conversations I've had with fathers who, like me, played football when we were young and have said, "No way I'd let my son play." That's probably why our local HS football team rarely wins a game. In fact, almost no one goes to the games and few people even follow the team. All this despite our resident NFL owner, Bob Kraft, going out of his way to support the local Pop Warner program, building a state-of-the-art practice field for the team and donating heavily to the HS football program.
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    Re: PBS Frontline: "League of Denial"

    I've gone back and forth on this. I love football, have played very little of it, and have never had any more than the wind knocked out of me from a hit. I recently was involved in a discussion on this board about not letting my sons play, but I'm still not sure if that isn't just being reactionary.

    An analogy to me at this point is that the reactions to the concussion issue is in the stage where the little darlings were wearing heart guards and face masks in youth baseball/softball for those who were still allowed to play, and a lot of folks said "not my kid" and started the soccer craze. Then they found out that headers were a problem for soccer players, youth baseball is picking up a little steam, and all the protective gear is now in yard sales or waiting for a bargain purchase at Goodwill. There are also a lot of folks realizing how freaking boring soccer is
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    Re: PBS Frontline: "League of Denial"

    I wish I had played soccer (run around and do something) rather than football (stand around and wait for the old screamy guy on the sideline to give you instructions). Never been more bored than when I was playing organized football.

    FWIW, you might be right about football upsetting the delicate sensibilities of helicopter parents, but football's a tough sell. You're not going to play it when you get older. At younger ages, almost every other sport will keep you in better shape. If you plan on going to college in any way other than on a football scholarship why play a sport where hurtling yourself headfirst at an armored adversary is required?
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    Re: PBS Frontline: "League of Denial"

    I read somewhere recently where it said football is the next boxing. Malcolm Gladwell said it will get "ghetto-ized". link

    The sport will get to where only those willing to take on the moderate to severe risk of injury will play the sport.

    I know our local high school (top 3 in the state in # of students) regularly wins or places high in state tournaments in sports like soccer, golf, tennis, track, cross-country, and swimming, has a world-class music program, and top-notch in about everything but has a hard time fielding a decent football team. When you have a bright future getting prepped at one of the best high schools in the state and potentially going to Northwestern or Carnegie-Mellon or Ohio State, why risk an injury that could affect your cognitive abilities long-term?

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    Rally Onion! Chip R's Avatar
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    Re: PBS Frontline: "League of Denial"

    Quote Originally Posted by M2 View Post
    If you plan on going to college in any way other than on a football scholarship why play a sport where hurtling yourself headfirst at an armored adversary is required?
    But that's where football is going to keep getting their players from. The kids who don't have any other shot but football. These kids are going to be on the lower end of the socio-economic scale much like boxers. With club teams, baseball is becoming more of a sport for the middlle class or well-to-do families. That's a huge commitment for kids. They have to give up their extra time to traveling on the road for those games. They have to invest in bats, gloves, unis, shoes, not to mention travel expenses. Thank goodness for the Dominican Republic. Basketball is almost the same way with AAU teams. I know my niece is into soccer and when she's not in school, she's playing with a club team. The equipment cost is negligible but travel time and cost is significant.

    There is no AAU or club football teams. It's all HS and college. In the off-season you lift and condition. Maybe you watch films if you are a QB but otherwise your time is your own. There are insurance costs but that's there for every sport. It's absolutely more dangerous than the other sports - even factoring out concussions - but it's sexy and there's more glory attached to the sport than the others. Sure parents are going to freak over the injury factor but that's been there since Day 1. Poorer families may take the gamble their kid stays healthy and gets that multi-million contract from the NFL. African-American kids are now playing QB - the glamor position - after decades of being shut out there. A rifle-armed kid who can run no longer has to settle for baseball or get converted to running back or wide receiver or defense. There's always going to be someone who will take the risks for short term glory. Now if insurance companies no longer feel they can take the risks for youth and HS programs, then you may see football wither on the vine.
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    Posting in Dynarama M2's Avatar
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    Re: PBS Frontline: "League of Denial"

    Quote Originally Posted by Chip R View Post
    But that's where football is going to keep getting their players from. The kids who don't have any other shot but football. These kids are going to be on the lower end of the socio-economic scale much like boxers.
    That goes exactly to what Roy said too, and I couldn't agree more. Interestingly enough, the bulk of the kids who play football at our local HS are the kids from some of the poorer sections in Boston who get bused here as part of a special program.

    The HS has 1,800 students and it wouldn't be able to field a football team if it weren't for imported-from-out-of-district students. It's basically a lot like the school where Roy is, every kid is headed to college. Lacrosse, swimming, crew - they're growing like crazy. There's talk of adding skate boarding and free running teams. Meanwhile I can't remember the last time I saw a pickup football game.

    And I think you may be onto something about insurance.
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    Re: PBS Frontline: "League of Denial"

    Quote Originally Posted by M2 View Post
    That goes exactly to what Roy said too, and I couldn't agree more. Interestingly enough, the bulk of the kids who play football at our local HS are the kids from some of the poorer sections in Boston who get bused here as part of a special program.

    The HS has 1,800 students and it wouldn't be able to field a football team if it weren't for imported-from-out-of-district students. It's basically a lot like the school where Roy is, every kid is headed to college. Lacrosse, swimming, crew - they're growing like crazy. There's talk of adding skate boarding and free running teams. Meanwhile I can't remember the last time I saw a pickup football game.

    And I think you may be onto something about insurance.
    But Boston/Mass has never really been a hotbed of high school football anyway, has it? In rural Ohio high school football is still a big deal. Not as big as 10 years ago but my observation is that is due to the increased time commitment in the offseason, not safety concerns. The good athletes still play it, the guys who just came out to wear the jersey no longer do because the time investment is so great now.

    As far as the upper middle class suburban white kid, I have my doubts that they've given up on football in high school due to safety concerns. I simply think they've moved on to other sports that they have a better chance at being elite. The odds are tough for them in football (unless they are big) and basketball.

    What might save football is that the money is just so huge that people will pour resources into equipment research in hopes of developing a helmet that cuts down on concussions.


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