All Things Bubba

Because how can you not love a baseball player named "Bubba"?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Ready for some football...?

As I've mentioned before, I was raised a football fan, and came late to baseball. At this point, I like baseball more than football. Baseball has a steeper learning curve; football is not really less complex, but you can enjoy it without understanding the difference between cover 1 and cover 2. But once you get past that, baseball is enthralling, in a way football isn't (at least for me). Part of it that it's played every day, which keeps you in engaged in a way once-a-week football doesn't. Part of it is that it's so cerebral compared to football. Not that football doesn't require thought, but with football, at some point it comes down to brute force. While with baseball, brains are often better than brawn.

Still, football is exciting in a way baseball isn't. The action, the clock, the possibility of a big score at any's like mainlining adrenaline. During this week's Cowboys-Redskins game, the finish was so exciting I could hardly bear to watch. The winning TD as time expired...cruelly nullified by a penalty. The roller coaster highs and lows were more intense than any moment in baseball that I can recall. Even though it was only the first game of the season, and nothing more than bragging rights was hanging on it, I was freaking out more than in any World Series game.

But it appears that excitement comes at a price:

Suicide Reveals Signs of a Disease Seen in N.F.L.

ALLENTOWN, Pa. — A brain autopsy of a University of Pennsylvania football player who killed himself in April has revealed the same trauma-induced disease found in more than 20 deceased National Football League players, raising questions of how young football players may be at risk for the disease.

Owen Thomas, a popular 6-foot-2, 240-pound junior lineman for Penn with no previous history of depression, hanged himself in his off-campus apartment after what friends and family have described as a sudden and uncharacteristic emotional collapse. Doctors at Boston University subsequently received permission from the family to examine Thomas’s brain tissue and discovered early stages of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a disease linked to depression and impulse control primarily among N.F.L. players, two of whom also committed suicide in the last 10 years.

…Thomas never had a diagnosis of a concussion on or off the football field or even complained of a headache, his parents said, although they acknowledged he was the kind of player who might have ignored the symptoms to stay on the field. Because of this, several doctors said, his C.T.E. — whose only known cause is repetitive brain trauma — must have developed from concussions he dismissed or from the thousands of subconcussive collisions he withstood in his dozen years of football, most of them while his brain was developing.

It's starting to look like football, like boxing, exacts a terrible price on those who participate. The NFL had been in denial about this, until their own study showed that players are suffering permanent brain injury. Changes are being made.

Hopefully the result will be better gear that can protect players' brains. As thrilling as the game is, it's not worth permanent brain damage.

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posted by BubbaFan, 6:56 PM


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