For those of you about to watch a little football over the weekend, does the "sport" induce brain damage not only to the players but also to the viewers?
After a weekend of listening to the blather on the tube, many viewers tend to believe that “college” players are really student-athletes and that NFL players can step back into society on Sunday evening after a week, after a near lifetime, of banging heads.
The Ray Rice case probably should cost Commissioner Roger Goodell his job one of these days. Hearing the report that Rice had dragged his girlfriend, now his wife, out of an elevator after “rendering her unconscious” did not arouse any curiosity in Goodell. Biff-bam-pow. It sounded like one of those phrases John Madden and the lads used to chortle on the compliant networks not so long ago.
“Got his bell rung.”
X-rays of autopsies to follow.
Just think about it while watching the “amateurs” and the “professionals:" the know-nothing impulse of Goodell and his league regarding Ray Rice and now-wife is not the first or perhaps most widespread scandal facing the NFL.
These people have been ducking the clear evidence of damaged players for generations. Men had their uniforms taken away when they could no longer compete, and soon afterward an alarming number had another clubhouse - a rest home with burly attendants to care for them.
For many years the NFL relied for brain advice on its medical advisor, Dr. Elliot Pellman, who was not an expert in neurology, and who resigned in 2007 after articles by Alan Schwarz in The New York Times and other sources.
I had already posted this article when things got worse. The front-page story in the Times by Ken Belson said the NFL is admitting that one-third of its former players are likely to have brain damage. In case you missed it:
Until recently, the NFL's position was that players did not have brain damage. Rather, they were rendered unconscious. Big difference.
What happens to players still getting hit early and often by other behemoths? Do they left-hook their companions, or strangers, and dump them halfway out of an elevator and nudge them with their feet?
At the moment that ugly video surfaced, the two NFL scandals were joined. Does football make players violent long before brain damage is confirmed -- via an autopsy?
Have a nice violent weekend.
Measuring Covid Deaths, by David Leonhardt. July 17, 2023. NYT online.
The United States has reached a milestone in the long struggle against Covid: The total number of Americans dying each day — from any cause — is no longer historically abnormal….
After three horrific years, in which Covid has killed more than one million Americans and transformed parts of daily life, the virus has turned into an ordinary illness.
The progress stems mostly from three factors:
First, about three-quarters of U.S. adults have received at least one vaccine shot.
Second, more than three-quarters of Americans have been infected with Covid, providing natural immunity from future symptoms. (About 97 percent of adults fall into at least one of those first two categories.)
Third, post-infection treatments like Paxlovid, which can reduce the severity of symptoms, became widely available last year.
“Nearly every death is preventable,” Dr. Ashish Jha, who was until recently President Biden’s top Covid adviser, told me. “We are at a point where almost everybody who’s up to date on their vaccines and gets treated if they have Covid, they rarely end up in the hospital, they almost never die.”
That is also true for most high-risk people, Jha pointed out, including older adults — like his parents, who are in their 80s — and people whose immune systems are compromised. “Even for most — not all but most —immuno-compromised people, vaccines are actually still quite effective at preventing against serious illness,” he said. “There has been a lot of bad information out there that somehow if you’re immuno-compromised that vaccines don’t work.”
That excess deaths have fallen close to zero helps make this point: If Covid were still a dire threat to large numbers of people, that would show up in the data.
One point of confusion, I think, has been the way that many Americans — including we in the media — have talked about the immuno-compromised. They are a more diverse group than casual discussion often imagines.
Most immuno-compromised people are at little additional risk from Covid — even people with serious conditions, such as multiple sclerosis or a history of many cancers. A much smaller group, such as people who have received kidney transplants or are undergoing active chemotherapy, face higher risks.
Covid’s toll, to be clear, has not fallen to zero. The C.D.C.’s main Covid webpage estimates that about 80 people per day have been dying from the virus in recent weeks, which is equal to about 1 percent of overall daily deaths.
The official number is probably an exaggeration because it includes some people who had virus when they died even though it was not the underlying cause of death. Other C.D.C. data suggests that almost one-third of official recent Covid deaths have fallen into this category. A study published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases came to similar conclusions.
Dr. Shira Doron, the chief infection control officer at Tufts Medicine in Massachusetts, told me that “age is clearly the most substantial risk factor.” Covid’s victims are both older and disproportionately unvaccinated. Given the politics of vaccination, the recent victims are also disproportionately
Republican and white.
Each of these deaths is a tragedy. The deaths that were preventable — because somebody had not received available vaccines and treatments — seem particularly tragic. (Here’s a Times guide to help you think about when to get your next booster shot.)
From the great Maureen Dowd:
As I write this, I’m in a deserted newsroom in The Times’s D.C. office. After working at home for two years during Covid, I was elated to get back, so I could wander around and pick up the latest scoop.
But in the last year, there has been only a smattering of people whenever I’m here, with row upon row of empty desks. Sometimes a larger group gets lured in for a meeting with a platter of bagels."
--- Dowd writes about the lost world of journalists clustered in newsrooms at all hours, smoking, drinking, gossipping, making phone calls, typing, editing.
"Putting out the paper," we called it.
Much more than nostalgia.