dfwabel

Football and CTE

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12 hours ago, the admiral said:

NFL ratings are down because Colin Kaepernick merely exists. What a bunch of fragile little diaper babies!

 

In fairness, that survey isn't nearly as meaningful as the media is portraying it to be.

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3 hours ago, dfwabel said:

 

100+ former college football players in a the brain bank had CTE, you'd be somewhat close to the topic, but you didn't.

 

http://www.sportingnews.com/ncaa-football/news/cte-now-diagnosed-in-over-100-different-college-football-programs/ufeti8njc2h11r7cn5kc66gme

 

 

I was a pro wrestler for a few years and quit after learning what my frequent sub-concussive impacts could become... so I understand the reality of the situation first-hand... that being said, playing devil's advocate here, if I was in a position of power in the football world, I would tear this study to shreds and be right to do it.

The fatal limitation of these studies is that the brains submitted for testing come from the (literally) 0.00005% of all football players who showed the most obvious symptoms of CTE, creating a borderline useless control group. The limitation of the test subjects is not the scientists' fault per se, but the only brains studied came from players whose quality of life was so remarkably and outwardly miserable that their families took the exceptionally rare path of donating their brains to science to get answers.

While the intent is righteous and important, the results are predictably limited and serve as more of a self-fulfilling prophecy than progressive data. The communication practices of modern medicine are systemically distorted. Cartoonishly small and specific control groups are used to justify prescribing drugs to millions of people. In this case, there is no data that comes even close to predicting the quality of life for the average football player - just the worst 0.00005%, a statistically worthless sample size.

 

I am a hypocrite on this one because an anecdote from Kevin Kolb made me quit wrestling, but the only real solution is for a much larger group of athletes to donate their brains, not just the cross-section whose diagnosis is a foregone conclusion. Does CTE develop in 90% of football players? 20%? 5%? All we have data on is a tiny group of uber-concussed athletes. I would love to see the NFLPA push all members to donate their brains, regardless of quality of life... anyone who respects fundamental science and mathematics also respects the limitations of these studies.

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53 minutes ago, C-Squared said:

 

I was a pro wrestler for a few years and quit after learning what my frequent sub-concussive impacts could become... so I understand the reality of the situation first-hand... that being said, playing devil's advocate here, if I was in a position of power in the football world, I would tear this study to shreds and be right to do it.

The fatal limitation of these studies is that the brains submitted for testing come from the (literally) 0.00005% of all football players who showed the most obvious symptoms of CTE, creating a borderline useless control group. The limitation of the test subjects is not the scientists' fault per se, but the only brains studied came from players whose quality of life was so remarkably and outwardly miserable that their families took the exceptionally rare path of donating their brains to science to get answers.

While the intent is righteous and important, the results are predictably limited and serve as more of a self-fulfilling prophecy than progressive data. The communication practices of modern medicine are systemically distorted. Cartoonishly small and specific control groups are used to justify prescribing drugs to millions of people. In this case, there is no data that comes even close to predicting the quality of life for the average football player - just the worst 0.00005%, a statistically worthless sample size.

 

I am a hypocrite on this one because an anecdote from Kevin Kolb made me quit wrestling, but the only real solution is for a much larger group of athletes to donate their brains, not just the cross-section whose diagnosis is a foregone conclusion. Does CTE develop in 90% of football players? 20%? 5%? All we have data on is a tiny group of uber-concussed athletes. I would love to see the NFLPA push all members to donate their brains, regardless of quality of life... anyone who respects fundamental science and mathematics also respects the limitations of these studies.

You are about to become the most popular person on this board.

 

While you're right that the sample size and, more importantly, the self-selected nature of the sample, makes it difficult to truly make a conclusion beyond "football players can get CTE and some unknown percentage does," I still would argue that players walking away are making a rational decision.

 

And if you were in a position of power in the football world, you could tear the study to shreds but that doesn't mean it's OK to go on as you've been going on.  If the world was a better, less greedy place, a "person of power in the football world" would make efforts to find out what the real numbers are regarding how many will get it (per how long they've been playing).  

 

To whatever degree this research was irresponsible (it wasn't, but the reporting on it is lazy and bordering on irresponsible, I suppose), the silver lining could be that our headline-reading culture's reaction (and resultant PR hit) could resulting in a legitimate look for a better search for answers.  I know it's tough; even if players with better quality of life in retirement have their brains donated, it's probably impossible to get a truly random sample.

 

The NFL has never wanted to know.  Now maybe they will.

 

Maybe someday there'll be a way to find CTE in living people.

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22 hours ago, OnWis97 said:

So I'm curious as to how much any of this has impacted our football (and not just NFL) fandom.  And, if you have kids (I don't) whether you'd let 'em play.

 

 

It's changed the way I watch football for sure. I don't get excited for big hits anymore and I find myself cheering players running out of bounds or going down to avoid a hit. At least now the players are aware of it so they can make a decision to leave if they want, but I know that for many of them football isn't a choice anymore. It's definitely a factor in my declining interest in the NFL because the league itself tried to cover it up. That doesn't sit right with me. If they'd been honest about it from day one maybe I'd feel different. The other reasons being overexposure, far too complex rulebook, poor and inconsistent officiating, my team's overall suckitude, my team's drafting Joe Mixon, other NFL fans are the dumbest fans in sports, and that the league has obvious preferred teams that get to play under a different more relaxed rulebook. 

 

Second question: When I have kid I'm not letting them play football. I grew up playing and loving hockey, but I don't even know about letting them play that. I played football from 5th grade through my sophomore year of high school and I remember several instances of getting my head mashed to the point of seeing stars even at that young age. The only time in my life I ever had frequent headaches was when I played football. I don't see the benefit. If (big if) my kid is a good enough athlete to earn a college scholarship in football they'll probably be a good enough athlete to earn one in another sport like baseball or golf or whatever. 

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1 hour ago, OnWis97 said:

 

While you're right that the sample size and, more importantly, the self-selected nature of the sample, makes it difficult to truly make a conclusion beyond "football players can get CTE and some unknown percentage does," I still would argue that players walking away are making a rational decision.

 

And if you were in a position of power in the football world, you could tear the study to shreds but that doesn't mean it's OK to go on as you've been going on.  If the world was a better, less greedy place, a "person of power in the football world" would make efforts to find out what the real numbers are regarding how many will get it (per how long they've been playing).  

 

To whatever degree this research was irresponsible (it wasn't, but the reporting on it is lazy and bordering on irresponsible, I suppose), the silver lining could be that our headline-reading culture's reaction (and resultant PR hit) could resulting in a legitimate look for a better search for answers.  I know it's tough; even if players with better quality of life in retirement have their brains donated, it's probably impossible to get a truly random sample.

 

The NFL has never wanted to know.  Now maybe they will.

 

Maybe someday there'll be a way to find CTE in living people.

The NFL officially acknowledged the link between the sport and CTE in March 2016.

 

 

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1 hour ago, C-Squared said:

The fatal limitation of these studies is that the brains submitted for testing come from the (literally) 0.00005% of all football players who showed the most obvious symptoms of CTE, creating a borderline useless control group. The limitation of the test subjects is not the scientists' fault per se, but the only brains studied came from players whose quality of life was so remarkably and outwardly miserable that their families took the exceptionally rare path of donating their brains to science to get answers.

While the intent is righteous and important, the results are predictably limited and serve as more of a self-fulfilling prophecy than progressive data. The communication practices of modern medicine are systemically distorted. Cartoonishly small and specific control groups are used to justify prescribing drugs to millions of people. In this case, there is no data that comes even close to predicting the quality of life for the average football player - just the worst 0.00005%, a statistically worthless sample size.

 

I am a hypocrite on this one because an anecdote from Kevin Kolb made me quit wrestling, but the only real solution is for a much larger group of athletes to donate their brains, not just the cross-section whose diagnosis is a foregone conclusion. Does CTE develop in 90% of football players? 20%? 5%? All we have data on is a tiny group of uber-concussed athletes. I would love to see the NFLPA push all members to donate their brains, regardless of quality of life... anyone who respects fundamental science and mathematics also respects the limitations of these studies.

Whether NCAA or NFL, the numbers of those diagnosed with CTE is still much higher than the general US population.

 

Earlier this week when the study was released, NY Times listed the players who tested positive (the family of the lone NFL player did not want to go public).  Within the article, there was this point even with selection bias...

Quote

But 110 positives remain significant scientific evidence of an N.F.L. player’s risk of developing C.T.E., which can be diagnosed only after death. About 1,300 former players have died since the B.U. group began examining brains. So even if every one of the other 1,200 players had tested negative — which even the heartiest skeptics would agree could not possibly be the case — the minimum C.T.E. prevalence would be close to 9 percent, vastly higher than in the general population.

 

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1 hour ago, dfwabel said:

Whether NCAA or NFL, the numbers of those diagnosed with CTE is still much higher than the general US population.

 

Earlier this week when the study was released, NY Times listed the players who tested positive (the family of the lone NFL player did not want to go public).  Within the article, there was this point even with selection bias...

 

 

At the risk of sounding snarky, only a fool would think a desk job boasts the same risks as a career where smashing heads together is commonplace. My problem lies in the distorted manner in which this information was communicated to the masses.

 

The USA Today headline reads: Study: CTE diagnosed in 99% of former NFL players studied by researchers. Typically, headlines boil content down. In this case, an extremely limited amount of research has been blown up in the most sensationalist manner possible. This is a communication issue, not a research issue. The AMA - and medical research groups in general - have a responsibility to communicate their findings in a proportionate and responsible manner. This is the same type of deceitful communication practice that pumps undertested drugs into the marketplace and that the NFL can argue unfairly damages their business. I have no issue with the actual methodology and cannot fault the AMA with the inherent limitations of their study, but this type of systemically distorted communication is the bane of modern medical research.

 

I'm really just playing devil's advocate, though. My future children will be free to enjoy lengthy flag football careers.

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On 7/27/2017 at 11:34 AM, Ice_Cap said:

People keep saying that but youth baseball and softball participation is on the rise.

 

Exactly. Baseball isn't graying so much as the US population is graying as a whole. Baseball is still at near record interest, and has actually been on the uptick in recent years.

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4 hours ago, DG_Now said:

Well I think the issues are related. One of the ways the NFL stays successful is that it has a free feeder system of talent that costs it nothing. If that went away, the economics of professional football -- and the impacts to its talent -- are dramatically different.

 

18- and 19-year-olds shouldn't be driving their brains into mush. Certainly not for the equivalent of $40,000 a year.

Hell, the more we learn about football's effects on the brain makes me think playing it should be illegal for anyone under the age of 18.

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10 hours ago, Ice_Cap said:

Hell, the more we learn about football's effects on the brain makes me think playing it should be illegal for anyone under the age of 18.

There were a few callers on ESPN Radio asking that question to Bomani this week. Even asking if football should be an 18+ event to watch live.

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21 hours ago, dfwabel said:

 

Yes, the NFL has finally made the first small steps. And that's important. But they're still a long ways from honest and open transparency.  Especially since they're still fighting with the NIH over the research they promised to fund. 

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On 7/25/2017 at 2:27 PM, Gothamite said:

If we removed the helmets, lessened the pads and forced them to feel the actual impact of the hits, they wouldn't make them in the same way.

 

I wish I could find all the posts over the years where I said "football needs less equipment, not more." Anyway, I agree. 

 

On 7/25/2017 at 9:18 PM, McCarthy said:

I don't mean like next year, but I really think the NFL's replacement, if there is going to be one, could be soccer in 20-30 years. 

 

What the "soccer could be next" crowd is failing to take into consideration is how big a role gambling plays in the popularity of the NFL. Let's be honest, Vegas ain't going to be seeing a lot of action on a game where the spreads are always -1. Gambling is a huge reason why football, especially the NFL, is so huge. Take away the gambling and the NFL is right down here with the rest of us. I realize that people probably bet on soccer too  - I'll take Manchester to tie nil-nil  - but you'll never convince me that soccer will ever have the same appeal with gambling sports fans that the NFL has with them. And that's why soccer never gets there. Could soccer be at the same level as the not quite as big three? Well, I certainly hope not, but I do suppose it's possible. How probable it is is another story. 

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I dunno. It's not like gambling on soccer is some unknown thing in Europe....

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Along with the gambling thing is fantasy.  I suspect fantasy soccer probably exists but it must be far less compelling.

 

That said, gambling is part of the appeal but the ease of following the league/team and the low number of games is big, too.  Soccer comes far closer to that than any other team sport.

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18 minutes ago, Gothamite said:

I dunno. It's not like gambling on soccer is some unknown thing in Europe....

 

That wasn't my point. I said that people bet on soccer. My point was that for soccer to "replace" the NFL, it would need the same percentage of gamblers in its fanbase that the NFL has. As I said in the post, take away the people that bet on the NFL and I doubt it's any more popular than MLB or the NBA. It's not about whether or not fans bet on the sport, it's about how many bettors are fans of the sport and that's where the NFL crushes the competition. 

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5 minutes ago, OnWis97 said:

Along with the gambling thing is fantasy.  I suspect fantasy soccer probably exists but it must be far less compelling.

 

That said, gambling is part of the appeal but the ease of following the league/team and the low number of games is big, too.  Soccer comes far closer to that than any other team sport.

 

Should the CTE thing end football as we know it (which is about as likely as a UFO landing in my driveway as I type this) here's an off the board guess at the sport that could supplant it. NASCAR. Now before everyone laughs it off, hear me out. NASCAR has violence...well sort of...it has fiery crashes. It's on once a week. Every week is essentially an All-Star game. And it's about as American as it gets. 

 

OK, I'm mostly kidding, but should the NFL end in the next five years (again, highly unlikely) I will say that I see far more NFL fans heading to the track as a substitute than I see headed to the pitch. 

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NASCAR interest is sinking like a stone. If this CTE revelation had come out maybe 15 years ago, maybe they could make a leap, but they have problems of their own to deal with right now.

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At this point basketball seems more likely than any other sport to dethrone football among American sports. It's played more or less year-round, it's the only other big college sport besides football, and the best players on the planet still gravitate to the NBA.

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Stop with the basketball.

 

White people dislike LaVar Ball now and he has a better son as a HS Junior now.

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The most likely option outside football is the other football. NBA, MLB, or NHL aren't once-a-week-build-up type sports. Baseball is near every day. It's not live or die on every play. Basketball is 80 or so scores a game? NHL is on ice with skates, and constant back and forth flow of the game. If anything comes close, it's Rugby, which has zero footprint in the U.S. at a professional level. Soccer at least has more of a 'once a week, build up interest through the work week' setup.

 

As for NFL and CTE, the problem is the confirmation bias of this study. 111 people thought they or their loved ones had CTE and had their or their loved ones' brains donated to be studied.

 

110 of 111 people suspecting they have a broken arm probably really do have a broken arm.

 

Two things I legitimately want to know:

 

1. Is there any breakdown of what era these deceased played, for how long, two-way or platoon, what position, when did they start playing, how long did they play.

 

2. What exactly is the decrease in brain function on a comparable level. My grandmother never got tackled in her life, and yet by her 70s, she was horribly forgetful, confused, etc. If we're baselining a 70-year-old's brain function compared to what they had in high school, rather than the function of an average 70-year-old's. And, the big issue is: is it worth it to the players?

 

If you're going to get $14 million in less than a decade and you accept your back, knees, feet, hands, shoulders, etc might not be at the level of someone your age when you're in your 40s, 50s, 60s, etc,... is it worth it? Isn't the same logic applicable to brain function? These players weren't blathering idiots strapped to wheelchairs being spoon-fed peas for their last few decades.

 

Stop acting like the money isn't part of the equation. I know former players who are no longer collecting pay for playing are loving these lawsuits because it's their chance to take in more money from the NFL. However, if they had it to do over again. Go back 20 years and not play at all and not collect any money at all... would it be worth it to just get a 9-5 job making $50k/year and be in 'good health'.. or as good health as the average American is in from working a 9-5 desk job.

 

And lastly, if any 'advancements' in game play safety are determined today, there still is no way to test for CTE until death. We're judging modern play on past safety and health protocols. If Junior Seau killed himself from CTE, he did so based on experiences from HIS time playing, not today. So to say "Oh, kids today shouldn't play because their brains might be mush by the time they're 60 because someone who started playing 30 years ago did isn't really helping.

 

It's snake oil salesmanship.

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