This is How You Know Shaq Does His Own Stunts on Instagram

This is pretty funny.

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photo by Celeste Ballou/Pacers.com

Indiana Pacers Will Wear “Hoosiers” Hickory High Unis Next Year

There’s a reason one of the taglines for Paul Lukas’ UniWatch reads “For People Who Get It.”  The other, “The Obsessive Study of Athletics Aesthetics” tells you what the it is.

For people who get it, this story is awesome.

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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.

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Michael Bennett’s Beard Seeks to Found Seattle Dynasty

“I just love my beard. Moses had one; Genghis Khan had one. Just good guys man. Jesus had one too.” – Michael Bennett at Super Bowl Media Day.

Don’t think we’ve heard anyone, at least outside of Mongolia, refer to the moral standing of Genghis Khan so casually, positively, or, taken together…humorously?

 

How do you fight cheating in the NFL? Ban the Patriots from the Super Bowl.

How do you fight cheating in the NFL? Ban the Patriots from the Super Bowl, suggests Nico Lang.  I say he’s on to something, but it’s also patently obvious that the league has no credibility.  Just look at the CTE scandal and how the league’s broadcast partners keep their journalistic wings mostly silent.

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Why a Tie Goes to the Runner: Lessons from Contract Law and the Insurance Industry

Christopher Cocca

Simply put, the Runner is outnumbered.  Cut the Runner a break.

Let’s put a finer point on it.  In contract law, the law of adhesion states that when one party sets all parameters of a given contract with no chance for negotiation, the second party always wins any arbitration having to do with vague language or questions left open to interpretation. The first party must adhere to terms expressly spelled out in the contract.

The Pitcher and the Defense are the first party in our baseball scenario.  The terms of each half-inning (the contract) are clearly in favor of the first party, which is why we get excited when the Batter, the second party in this case, hits safely a mere one third of the time.  Just as a second party comes to a contract at a disadvantage when, say, buying insurance, so to the Batter steps into the box knowing he or she is outnumbered 9 to 1 and that the odds of hitting safely are historically slim (see also the law of large numbers).  Applying the law of adhesion requires that in the case of a Batter/Runner reaching a given base and the ball reaching that same base via delivery from one Defensive Player to another (assuming the second Defensive Player is touching the base in question) at the same time, the judgement ought to go to the Batter/Runner as the party with less ability to negotiate more favorable terms.

Like the law of adhesion, the law of utmost good faith (all parties to a contract are assumed to be honest) is only applicable in baseball in certain situations.  PEDs are banned, as are certain pitches, substances, and practices.  But a catcher trying to deceive an umpire after a pitch that misses, an outfielder taking credit for catching a fly ball when he/she really only trapped it, or any number of other instances of gamesmanship are not only permitted, but also widely lauded.  Gamesmanship is an integral part of the psychology and cerebral appeal of baseball. It’s why traditional fans want nothing to do with expanded instant replay.

Applying the law of adhesion to apparent ties is likely the best and only way to resolve MLB’s vexing (or, if you’re like me, charming) lack of clarity on the issue.