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With Cable and Youth Football in Decline, Disney/ESPN Forced to Call an Audible

Christopher Cocca

From 500ishWords.com, this piece considers the future of ESPN following Olbermann’s  (unavoidable) departure, Bill Simmons’ (inevitable) departure and the streaming experiments the Worldwide Leader is conducting on platforms like Sling.

As someone considering cutting the cord myself, it’s interesting to me that our children’s gray matter, so much fodder for the Disney machine, may not save ESPN after all.  The relationship between young brains and the House of Mouse in question is not the obvious “kill your screens” sentiment.  I’m talking about the fact that if Disney is to keep extracting 25% of its operating profit from the studios in Bristol, young boys have to keep playing football, even while ESPN wrings its journalistic hands over whether or not to tell the truth about CTE.  

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With Super Bowl Looming, New Study: Youth Football Participation Down 29% Since 2008

“Football as mass spectacle has never been bigger.”   But youth participation is down 29% since 2008.  – ESPN Outside the Lines.

Christopher Cocca

American football, (that is to say, football), is a fascinating game.  Its history is complex and nuanced.  Like all the major professional sports, it emerged from somewhere in our collective memory, developed through amateur associations of working-class athletic clubs, became an outlet for the ambitions and frustrations of American male adolescence and is now one of the biggest industries in the world.

Even if you prefer baseball or hockey or basketball as products, hobbies, or metaphors, even if you know or care nothing about the game, you’d likely grant that much of its attraction among the faithful is visceral.   My playing experience starts and ends on the playground and in the backyard, with Nerf and, later, synthetic pigskin.  I don’t have a shared locker-room history, I didn’t play the organized game as a child, and I’ve always cared much for more baseball, likely for narrative and immigrant reasons, also visceral.

In the 80s and 90s, we had no way of knowing, as children, what CTE was or that some of our favorite players (Jim McMahon, Junior Seau) would suffer or die from it.  Our parents had no way of knowing that it existed, that playing the full-contact game as young boys even in the best of organized settings could damage our brains and limit our cognitive skills, or that if we played through our teens, that damage could increase our risk of suicide.

But we all know differently now.  I’ve argued before that game’s continued success, especially at the college level (the biggest piece of ESPN’s revenue, and thus a huge piece of Disney’s) requires that our kids keep playing and that the NCAA’s and NFL’s media partners keep mum about the true risks that have evolved alongside bigger bodies and harder hits.

Now, between Super Bowl Media Day and Super Bowl Sunday, ESPN’s Outside the Lines reports on a new study from Boston University claiming that “former NFL players who played tackle football as young children were more likely to have thinking and memory problems as adults.” I’m not a neuroscientist or a youth football booster, but people from both camps weigh in here.

Interestingly, Dr. Robert Stern, lead author of the study, says:

“To allow your child to be subjecting themselves to repetitive head injury at a very early age when they could be doing the sport a different way and minimizing their chances [of brain injury], to me, is just insane,” he said. “It’s wrong. We should not be allowing this to happen.

“Tom Brady didn’t play football until high school. He picked up the game pretty quickly.”

Why didn’t Brady play youth football?  His dad, citing health concerns, forbade the game until Brady’s freshman year.

diet flow

Being Healthy Sucks Most of the Time, but Here’s a Free Guide to Being Healthy

 

It’s the middle of January, “Resolution Month” at the gym. In the past, I’ve railed against “resoluters,” with their shiny new workout gear and lack of follow-through. But as I get older, I realize, hey, we’re all human. Maintaining a healthy weight means making the right choices most of the time. Making these choices takes time and often sucks. At the same time, the fitness and nutrition markets are flooded with svengali promises made by the cross fits and diet plans of the world.

The truth is, to get healthier, you don’t need to pay $200 a month for someone to yell at you or for some crazy diet that is impossible to maintain in the long-term. So I created this totally free flow chart to help guide you toward a healthier lifestyle or toward complete and utter ambivalence toward a healthier lifestyle. Happy New Year.

 

 

diet flow

 

 

Thousands of Lives Would Have Been Saved If Obama Had Backed Stronger Smog Standards

I’ve been saying  this for a long time.  But I’m glad to see an institution as reputable as Johns Hopkins come out with this study:

 Thousands of Lives Would Have Been Saved If Obama Had Backed Stronger Smog Standards

With thanks to Joe Calhoun for sharing the story. Turns out Obama’s EPA was right all along.  That’s not surprising.

Strip Malls and Big Box Stores Connected to Increase in Serious/Deadly Traffic Accidents Among Senior Citizens

“According to a new report [PDF] from the Texas Transportation Institute at Texas A&M University, the nearly ubiquitous giant-parking-lot-plus-giant-retail outlet is associated with higher risks of injurious and deadly traffic accidents among people 75 and older. Seventy-five is the age when older adults become substantially more likely than other age cohorts to experience injury or fatality as a result of a traffic accident, mainly because of their increasingly frail bodies, but also due to their waning hearing and eyesight.”

Read more here.

I’ d never really thought about it before, but this is fairly intuitive.

Another problem is that in many areas, seniors are underserved by public transit.  That’s certainly the case in the Allentown Metro.

Search Term Mail Bag Vol. 83

I’m usually a little silly with this feature, but the search term I want to deal with today is somber because the context is Junior Seau’s suicide.

“Is this the end of football?”

I think it is.  Not in the next few years, but in the next twenty.  Unless rules drastically change, parents are going to stop letting their children play the game.

In February, I linked to this article from Grantland.  It makes the case.