As every week goes by, there are a variety of new issues that hit the sports landscape. Some merit detailed examination and others get only short-term focus from the mainstream media. What I find interesting is how some of the most significant issues get only quick sound-bytes and almost no properly follow up. Here are a few of the items that I found interesting from this week.
- Baker Mayfield—his alleged refusal to shake hands with Richard Sherman became a headline item for 2 days until people pulled up the actual footage and showed Sherman that Baker had in fact greeted him before the toss, though Baker is clearly seen running off immediately after the toss. To his credit, Sherman acknowledged that the reality was his degree of “hurt” was overblown, but it shows us once again the danger of making immediate reactions and judgments when a player (or eye-witness or victim) provide their initial impressions. No matter how certain or how loud they are, there is likely to be some discrepancy between the video footage and the “reality” that was initially blasted across the screens. In the sports world it is easy for us to laugh and brush it off. In the world of the criminal justice system, those initial soundbytes can dramatically alter a person’s life and devastate their future.
- Increased Risk of CTE—Yet another study was released by Boston University that found an increased risk of CTE for those who have played years of football and found that there was a strong correlation between the number of years played and the the degree of risk.. It is clear that we still are not taking the risks of repetitive hits seriously enough and that there is sufficient data to confirm the importance of reducing the number of head impacts our children receive in ANY sport. Soccer is eliminating headers at early ages, hockey is eliminating checking at young ages and football is attempting to convert the game to flag football at the youngest levels. All of these efforts deserve applause, and yet we have to question why so much of the process is still being mis-managed at even the highest levels. The study of 266 deceased athletes found a 30% increased risk for each year played, meaning that the risk of CTE more than doubled for every 3 years of football. Scary stuff.
- Improper use of subjects in concussion studies and ADHD diagnoses—Once again we see some suspect actions out of the University of North Carolina. The Athletic found that there was a mysterious absence of critical data in UNCs renowned concussion research. (If you don’t have a subscription to Athletic, here are a couple other links to articles summarizing the coverage: 1) BusinessNC: Years of UNC Concussion Research Led by Guskiewicz May Be Unreliable; 2) The Key Play: OT: Investigation into UNC Concussion Research. Having been through the academic cheating scandals and more, the latest hit comes out as it appears that the athletic department has been diagnosing players with ADHD when they enter college at rates far above what would be expected for kids that had never received that diagnosis. To make matters worse, the UNC students were then also included in some of the concussion research studies performed at UNC without properly disclosing the ADHD diagnosis. The troubling aspect arises as people reviewing that study and relying on it for future purposes are potentially basing their new research studies on defective data.
- High School Baseball—at a business event I happened to meet a mother who relayed the story to me from a local high school baseball team. Her son loved baseball and played for many years and was the sole kid cut from this particular high school. Despite having notified the school in advance that this child was coming over from a special program and despite having spoken to some of the coaches in advance to discuss potential accomodations, this particular coach took a hard line attitude. I cannot imagine the justification for cutting one single kid from any sport (if you are only cutting one kid, then you could clearly keep them and allow them to practice and be part of the team). But when you combine this issue with the special needs issue, this coach is likely in violation of an IEP, the ADA and many other regulations. A stubborn attitude and refusal to have a proper conversation about it hardly seems like the type of role model that we want for our children. Hopefully I will be able to intervene and will have some more positive information to report in the coming weeks.
- Dreadlocks—The letter to Penn State Football player Jonathan Sutherland was truly outrageous. Calling him out for dreadlocks, tattoos and more, the letter reprimanded him for not holding up the Penn State image. Leaving aside the simple idiocy of the comments in today’s society, the fact that the letter was so tone deaf to the racial issues in this country is astounding. I commend Penn State for its prompt reaction to the letter and the fact that it quickly distanced itself from the lunacy.
HUMOR FOR THE WEEK
MOTIVATION FOR THE WEEK