Thursday, March 10, 2011

Head Games

Check out the Bill Simmons podcast with Chris Nowinski.  Nowinski is a former athlete and pro wrestler now working on the concussion problem.  Bill and Chris do a nice job of discussing the issues, including whether one should let their kids play football.  The comparison between the smoking industry's decades of denial and the NFL's initial attempts to do the same is pretty striking.  And the league still wants to add two games to the season.

I am glad that my daughter does not do competitive cheer-leading nor does she play soccer much (heading the ball a lot as a kid is probably not a great idea).  When we ski, we wear helmets.  We only go into the trees where it s not very steep, so that we can control our speed. 

I have been concussed a few times, I think (I never thought to keep track plus, as the current discussions suggest, it is not always clear what counts).  Clearly the time when I ran into a tree in the main quad at Oberlin chasing a frisbee (we were just tossing the disk).  Perhaps banging my head when falling on a hard ski surface. I never played football with pads (just informal games).  I don't think I ever banged my head playing ultimate, although I am sure I will feel my ankle, wrist, knee, and hand injuries when I am old.

We will be facing some significant changes in some of our sports.  Just this week, Air Canada (which is currently delaying my return to Montreal) has told the National Hockey League, whom it supports with its advertising, that the sport may be too violent to continue to support:
"We are contacting you to voice our concern over [the] incident involving Max Pacioretty and Zdeno Chara at the Bell Centre in Montreal," wrote Denis Vandal, Air Canada's director of marketing and communication, according to the Ottawa Sun. "This is following several other incidents involving career-threatening and life-threatening headshots in the NHL recently. From a corporate social responsibility standpoint, it is becoming increasingly difficult to associate our brand with sports events which could lead to serious and irresponsible accidents; action must be taken by the NHL before we are encountered with a fatality.
"Unless the NHL takes immediate action with serious suspension to the players in question to curtail these life-threatening injuries, Air Canada will withdraw its sponsorship of hockey."
This is stunning as hockey is the national glue of Canada, and Air Canada is the national airline.  To have a business think about disassociating itself with the most watched, most beloved and most integral sport in its primary area of operations is pretty amazing.  Even though my flight is delayed, I may be falling in love with Air Canada.


Steve Greene said...

My eye doctor as a youth did not want me heading the soccer ball because he feared it would lead to a detached retina. Alas, my 11-year old players pretty much never perform a successful header. Good for the brains, at least, if not for team performance.

Steve Saideman said...

Update: The moron that is the NHL commissioner apparently is rebuffing Air Canada with an implicit threat not to fly on AC. Guess the guy likes his bloodshed.