The Future of Football: NYTimes Links Big Tobacco with NFL Concussion Study

trekfan55

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The biggest problem with this study, as pointed above is that most of the brains submitted for study were from people who showed symptoms of CTE, and CTE can only be properly diagnosed after death. There is a lack of a "control group" and there probably will never be one.

That being said, this study is scary. How many people will stop their children from starting to play football? This is where it starts to go downhill. Me personally, I have begged all my friends to not let their kids play any kind of tackle football (my son was never interested) ever since I first heard of CTE.
 

Ralphwiggum

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I won't let my son play either. But we have a country full of people prepared to deny anything that "science" shows that makes their lives even a little bit inconvenient. So football still has a bunch of time left.
 

Valek123

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If exponent can convince the vast majority of the country that footballs were deflated when clear science showed they were not I have little to no faith that something that can't be seen will be accepted by the vast majority of this country. Football will live until the lawsuits become big enough, or frankly a Peyton Manning ends up a drooling mess due to CTE. CTE needs a poster child to get the next step of traction nationally. HBO can run all the specials it wants, until it's openly hammered on ESPN or NFL network enough people will just say it's the man ruining fun that the NFL will survive.

I personally feel we are watching the end right before our eyes, I'd give it 7-10 years before the game has an undeniable shift - possibly sooner if they get their poster child.
 

InstaFace

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Hey now, it took some fairly decent sophistication to know that Exponent was full of it. I don't really fault people who didn't take hours to dig into the details, and instead decided to believe the sanctimonious cacophony that something had happened.

The NFL has thus far been unable to sustain any sort of anti-CTE-awareness campaign, or disinformation campaign. There's no Exponent working here on behalf of tobacco companies or jealous NFL owners. Nothing's stopping people from coming to an informed conclusion.
 

nighthob

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I won't let my son play either. But we have a country full of people prepared to deny anything that "science" shows that makes their lives even a little bit inconvenient. So football still has a bunch of time left.
We're inching closer and closer to government bans on kids under the age of 16 playing full contact at the state levels. Sooner or later (and probably sooner) it's going to happen at the national level. While probably not during The Bastard Trump™ administration, certainly during the administration of whichever democrat follows him.
 

edmunddantes

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When insurance companies jack the premiums up on schools that still play football to the point where they can't afford it anymore unless they are an extremely rich district, is the day football dies.
 

Buster Olney the Lonely

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I don't even think it will require legislation. This change will happen at the lowest levels. Decline in participation at the high school level. High schools that don't have a tolerance for the risk or the cost will drop football. I think this will start happening soon. Then you'll see an impact at the college level with a smaller recruiting base. Maybe some smaller schools drop the program. And up the chain it goes.

The NFL is in a tenuous position because so much of the league's success is dependent on one position. Imagine the NFL today if young Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers chose to focus on baseball rather than football. What does that look like?
 

dcmissle

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But they won't, because football hotbed states will legislate to keep the teams in business. Try suing for a skiing injury in Colorado.

A federal ban is out of the question for political and legal reasons.

The problem facing these 32 owners is cultural. Tastes can change at lightning speed, and as time goes on the pace of change quickens. So it's not a supply problem, apart from the relatively few elites who can choose freely between sports. It's a downstream demand problem.

The NFL has more than a few dumbbell owners, but it also includes some of the shrewdest business people on this planet. I'll be very interested in who decides to sell at the top of the market and bail on this business and when that happens. If you have a billion-dollar asset, you should not be sleeping on change.
 

Buster Olney the Lonely

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I think the shrewd owners have already started to hedge their bets. Here in Atlanta, Arthur Blank bought an MLS team. It's already been insanely successful in just a few months. Who knew Atlanta was ready for this sport? This is the heart of SEC country.

Anecdotally, I see more kids wearing Atlanta United or Barcelona or Arsenal or Bayern Munich or US National shirts than Falcons gear. Seeing this many kids wearing soccer gear would have unthinkable to me even ten years ago.
 

InstaFace

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I'm also not sure how the liability works. The kids' parents sign waivers. There's no real cause for negligence - risk is inherent in the sport, much like dc's skiing analogy. Did you have a duty to prevent someone from banging their heads together at the snap, as-instructed? I want to see the lawyer who takes that one on contingency. Nevermind the impossibility of showing proximate cause...

BOTL's scenario seems far more plausible to me than ED's insurance-premiums angle, or nighthob's legislation one. The tree will rot from the roots.

To me, the analogy to a sport in decline isn't boxing, but golf. In boxing, the malfeasance of the top levels of the sport turned the public off from watching it. But in golf, it's been a long slow decline from the literal grassroots, with the high costs of entry turning people off from learning the sport, and the downstream course closures that have been proceeding for decades, a net 800 in the last decade out of the ~15,000 in the US. The number of golfers in the US is down ~20% from its Tiger-driven 2003 peak, and players aged 18-34 are down 30%. It just doesn't appeal to millennials, partly for the (boomer-inflated) price, partly the environmental impact, and partly for the time and convenience cost of getting into it.

Well, football shares a lot with that. The cost of entry is prohibitive unless your high school can sell a lot of tickets, or you're upper middle class and can pay for all the pads and gear for the kid levels. Golf got too big for its britches in the fat Tiger Era, and had trouble finding sponsors after 2008? Mark Cuban has gone into detail on why he thinks the NFL is doing the same. There are stars on TV who get ratings and get kids excited, but disaffection at the brain injuries to children is a growing counterveiling force. A childhood friend of mine wrote up his decision to boycott, and my bet is, sooner or later it will become a cause celebre. Rather than remaining "football is family", as if it's a unifying thread for american culture, gridiron football is only a change-in-tastes away from losing its preeminence, and with it, its profit margins.
 

nighthob

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BOTL's scenario seems far more plausible to me than ED's insurance-premiums angle, or nighthob's legislation one. The tree will rot from the roots.
Maybe I wasn't clear. Legislatively, at the state level, the proposition to ban children under the age of 16 from full contact football is already progressing in many states.

Federally this won't be a legislative issue, when the time comes this will happen the way most safety regulations do, a Federal agency will issue new guidelines and people will sue afterwards. Even if the guidelines are nothing more than the DoE issuing an edict that school systems that allow children under 16 to play full contact are ineligible for government funding.
 

Marciano490

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I don't even think it will require legislation. This change will happen at the lowest levels. Decline in participation at the high school level. High schools that don't have a tolerance for the risk or the cost will drop football. I think this will start happening soon. Then you'll see an impact at the college level with a smaller recruiting base. Maybe some smaller schools drop the program. And up the chain it goes.

The NFL is in a tenuous position because so much of the league's success is dependent on one position. Imagine the NFL today if young Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers chose to focus on baseball rather than football. What does that look like?
Boxing.
 

Marciano490

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So we see the rise in prominence of a more dangerous flavor of the sport? Is the XFL coming back? ;)
No, I meant there's a sport with a talent drain (at least at the heavyweight division). I imagine you'd just have more PF's and Aaron Judge's if people stop playing football.
 

bigq

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No, I meant there's a sport with a talent drain (at least at the heavyweight division). I imagine you'd just have more PF's and Aaron Judge's if people stop playing football.
The analogies between boxing and football are interesting. I wonder which sport damages the brain faster. Seems like it would have to be boxing although playing on the offensive or defensive line in football involves a lot of head shots too. I think both sports are fucked long term.
 

Marciano490

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The analogies between boxing and football are interesting. I wonder which sport damages the brain faster. Seems like it would have to be boxing although playing on the offensive or defensive line in football involves a lot of head shots too. I think both sports are fucked long term.
Maybe, but boxing has survived, at least, without the high school and college infrastructure forever, so it's better suited to carry on if those are mooted. Unless, of course, you're thinking of an outright ban.
 

Zincman

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I wouldn't completely dismiss the impact of litigation on the future of the game, particularly in ancillary ways. The number of helmet manufacturers was reduced significantly, in large part, due to the huge amount of litigation heaped upon the industry.
 

Reverend

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Maybe, but boxing has survived, at least, without the high school and college infrastructure forever, so it's better suited to carry on if those are mooted. Unless, of course, you're thinking of an outright ban.
It may be worth noting that it takes considerably fewer human beings to field a competitive side in boxing than in American gridiron football.
 

soxfan121

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Nah. Boxing has survived because people enjoying watching other people fight and hurt each other - for like the majority of human history. There will always be two dudes poor enough and desperate enough to hit each other until one can't get up in exchange for money.

For lots of reasons, I think boxing as a sport is a particularly poor example and comp for football.

Football is about five-to-fifteen years away from @Buster Olney the Lonely's scenario: youth participation rates are dropping and it's going to accelerate. As fewer kids overall play, fewer prospect bubble up to the next level. "Schools" not in the Power 5 will begin to question football as a legit activity for their students as the medical data about the risks mount, as fewer walk-ons gravitate to the program, and as the costs increase. It is pretty easy to forsee a scenario in which a player at a very small school gets paralyzed or killed on the field, leading to a backlash from the PCU-students, leading to the football program being terminated because it is more trouble than it is worth to Very Small School U.

Football - the business of football - is not going to feel this manifest for a long time: the Power 5 conferences and NFL have themselves a gold mine and lots of kids will still seek riches down the hole. But once football starts dying at the edges, it'll snowball. The risks are just too big. When someone like Brett Farve is a drooling, mumbling mess in 15 years - like Ali - it'll have a chilling effect on the actual business of football. The sport will continue on then, because it is a BIG business, but with fewer kids in the pipeline and the (downward) societal pressure that will result from a generation of players crumbling, live, and exhibiting symptoms of traumatic brain injury, the BIG business will get smaller over time. We've passed "peak NFL" (thanks Bill!) and now the long, slow decline has begun.
 

mauf

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For all these bold predictions, there is no sign of anything happening.

Anecdotally, I've noticed lower participation in youth football here in suburban Boston, but this is the least football-crazed part of the country, and even here I'm not aware of any youth programs folding (though I suspect a few will in the next several years). Suggesting we'll see a statewide ban on tackle football anywhere, anytime soon is crazy-talk.

We saw a slow-but-steady flow of unsuccessful but high-profile lawsuits against tobacco companies for two decades before the trial lawyers cracked the code, going after Medicaid expenses and persuading courts to certify class actions. I don't think either of those procedural avenues will be available in football-related lawsuits. I'm not surprised that I haven't seen serious plaintiff's lawyers eager to step into the fray; the death-by-litigation theory's loudest proponents seem to be those who know least about the subject.

The decline of boxing has coincided with the rise of UFC. Combat sports viewed as a whole haven't fallen off a cliff, at least as measured by metrics that matter (revenue, numbers of serious fans) -- obviously, UFC is not culturally relevant the way boxing was. I agree with whoever said boxing is an exceptionally poor analogy for football's possible future.

Changing tastes are a legitimate Issue. History suggests, however, that these things evolve slowly. Golf and NASCAR are decent parallels, but both enjoyed rapid growth immediately prior to their recent declines, so a big part of what seems like a fairly rapid drop in each case is actually a return to normalcy. We've been talking about the inexorable rise of hockey and soccer for 40 years, but neither has placed itself on par with the Big Three (baseball/football/basketball). That troika was baseball/boxing/horse racing 100 years ago, so tastes do change, but pundits consistently overestimate the pace of change.
 

bigq

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For all these bold predictions, there is no sign of anything happening.

Anecdotally, I've noticed lower participation in youth football here in suburban Boston, but this is the least football-crazed part of the country, and even here I'm not aware of any youth programs folding (though I suspect a few will in the next several years). Suggesting we'll see a statewide ban on tackle football anywhere, anytime soon is crazy-talk.

We saw a slow-but-steady flow of unsuccessful but high-profile lawsuits against tobacco companies for two decades before the trial lawyers cracked the code, going after Medicaid expenses and persuading courts to certify class actions. I don't think either of those procedural avenues will be available in football-related lawsuits. I'm not surprised that I haven't seen serious plaintiff's lawyers eager to step into the fray; the death-by-litigation theory's loudest proponents seem to be those who know least about the subject.

The decline of boxing has coincided with the rise of UFC. Combat sports viewed as a whole haven't fallen off a cliff, at least as measured by metrics that matter (revenue, numbers of serious fans) -- obviously, UFC is not culturally relevant the way boxing was. I agree with whoever said boxing is an exceptionally poor analogy for football's possible future.

Changing tastes are a legitimate Issue. History suggests, however, that these things evolve slowly. Golf and NASCAR are decent parallels, but both enjoyed rapid growth immediately prior to their recent declines, so a big part of what seems like a fairly rapid drop in each case is actually a return to normalcy. We've been talking about the inexorable rise of hockey and soccer for 40 years, but neither has placed itself on par with the Big Three (baseball/football/basketball). That troika was baseball/boxing/horse racing 100 years ago, so tastes do change, but pundits consistently overestimate the pace of change.
I disagree with the conclusion that there is no sign of anything happening.
I think the more accurate statement is there are lots of signs of things happening however the long term effect on the game is yet to be seen. My opinion is that tackle football is in trouble long term and popularity, participation and interest in the sport will wane. The extent and timing of those is certainly unknown but it sure feels like it is coming.
 

soxfan121

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Boxing started to die long before the UFC was a thing.
Boxing started to die when Muhammed Ali lit the torch in Atlanta and a generation of people saw that the most loquacious, mellifluous man of his generation had been reduced to a shaking, non-verbal shell.
 

soxhop411

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How many NFL players will take the test and how many will turn it down because they need the money?
 

mauf

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We've been able to diagnose Alzheimer's in the living for decades, but we're only beginning to be able to identify people before they become symptomatic. Maybe CTE diagnosis will move faster than that, but I'll be surprised if the initial breakthrough is anything more than being able to diagnose advanced CTE that might otherwise be mistaken for ALS or early-onset dementia.
 

TheRooster

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How many NFL players will take the test and how many will turn it down because they need the money?
A non-trivial percentage of the guys who get cut every year? Or how about the guys who are 2-3 removed from their last playing time? Imagine a study that compares 200 35 year old non-players with 200 35 year old guys who played 3-5 years in the NFL. If one person tests positive in the non-NFL group while 17 (arbitrary number) test positive in the NFL group, what happens next? Obviously they start testing younger cohorts, but in the mean time how does the league spin it?
 

Bergs

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We've been able to diagnose Alzheimer's in the living for decades, but we're only beginning to be able to identify people before they become symptomatic. Maybe CTE diagnosis will move faster than that, but I'll be surprised if the initial breakthrough is anything more than being able to diagnose advanced CTE that might otherwise be mistaken for ALS or early-onset dementia.
Even this somewhat pessimistic (imo) scenario enables two important things: establishing a baseline for how many living former players have CTE, and building a representative control sample to look at relative risk ratios. These are both important things that cannot be accomplished now.
 

mauf

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Even this somewhat pessimistic (imo) scenario enables two important things: establishing a baseline for how many living former players have CTE, and building a representative control sample to look at relative risk ratios. These are both important things that cannot be accomplished now.
Absolutely. I'm just saying that I suspect we won't see current NFL players, let alone high-school or college players, diagnosed anytime soon -- which is, I think, what would need to happen to see the precipitous drops in youth football participation and the NFL's popularity that a lot of people are expecting/hoping to see.
 

The Needler

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Boxing started to die when Muhammed Ali lit the torch in Atlanta and a generation of people saw that the most loquacious, mellifluous man of his generation had been reduced to a shaking, non-verbal shell.
There are many legitimate contributory factors that have resulted in boxing's (slow) participatory and viewership decline -- too many weight classes, much larger pool of other entertainment options, PPV, increased number of governing bodies, etc. But if this is even among those reasons, it is certainly not THE reason. It's wrong on timing and factually baseless. It reeks of a Bill Simmons hot take.
 

OurF'ingCity

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My guess is that the NFL will eventually be forced to change the rules regarding tackling, perhaps drastically. I don't think they would ever go to a full "touch" football ruleset or flag football, but I can definitely see all helmet-to-helmet contact (and perhaps even shoulder-to-helmet) being banned, the rules for when a player is down/forward progress has stopped being relaxed such that when a player is "wrapped up" the whistle is blown before he is actually tackled, etc.

I have no idea whether those changes would actually reduce the occurrence of CTE (probably not), but it would give the NFL an excuse to say "we changed the rules so we need to wait until we see whether these rule changes work!" would could I guess string out its decline by a bit. Of course, those rule changes might also water down the sport to the point where it's not fun to watch or play, so even doing that might not actually make that much a difference.
 

reggiecleveland

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Don't you think this will just go the way of smoking? Smoking kills, and even thought tobacco companies sports years fighting the science, all that ended up happening in a warning on the pack. Smoking has fallen out of favour, but is still a huge business. Signing a form that it is harmful to your health, etc, etc, should cover it. I mentioned in the ratings thread that the decline in kids playing probably has a lot to do with the ratings drop.

Ali was mentioned. I have read he was actually more susceptible to what happened to him than most boxers. Maybe the science will advance to the point you take a test and find out football is not for you. There is some controversy about women's college basketball teams shying away from players with physical predispositions to knee injuries.
 

Harry Hooper

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Don't you think this will just go the way of smoking? Smoking kills, and even thought tobacco companies sports years fighting the science, all that ended up happening in a warning on the pack. Smoking has fallen out of favour, but is still a huge business. Signing a form that it is harmful to your health, etc, etc, should cover it. I mentioned in the ratings thread that the decline in kids playing probably has a lot to do with the ratings drop.

Ali was mentioned. I have read he was actually more susceptible to what happened to him than most boxers. Maybe the science will advance to the point you take a test and find out football is not for you. There is some controversy about women's college basketball teams shying away from players with physical predispositions to knee injuries.
Yes, both college football and pro football might continue on with an explicit, fully informed consent kind of waiver thing going on. The question, though, will be how rich the pipeline of talent will be coming from youth football. Do college programs start grabbing generic athletes and try to teach them football? Does semi-pro football start becoming a more significant source of talent for the pros? Maybe the NFL eventually sets up developmental leagues {with attractive financial incentives} around the globe to create a new talent pool for both college and the NFL.
 

uncannymanny

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While disagreeing that an approx 75% drop in US users since the 60s says the warning and lawsuits weren’t effective deterrents, the pool of smokers is pretty much every teenaged+ human being. The pool of NFL players is a percentage of a percentage of a percentage of that. Smoking rates have declined precipitously. If the NFL experiences just that type of drop, especially talent that is athletic enough to choose other sports, the play quality will drop with it. I think that’s really bad for the longevity of the NFL. Imagine if most teams looked like the Jets or Browns talent-wise.
 

EricFeczko

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We've been able to diagnose Alzheimer's in the living for decades, but we're only beginning to be able to identify people before they become symptomatic. Maybe CTE diagnosis will move faster than that, but I'll be surprised if the initial breakthrough is anything more than being able to diagnose advanced CTE that might otherwise be mistaken for ALS or early-onset dementia.
Not to take away from your point, but...what?
We can diagnosis dementia with high certainty, and we can estimate a probability of whether the dementia type is alzheimer's. I know of no diagnostic test for Alzheimer's disease that carries any degree of certainty.

Here's a review from 6 years ago basically saying the same thing:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3312024/

Of course, this only cements your primary point further; if certain Alzheimer's is still borderline impossible to diagnose in living people, one should be severely suspect of any CTE diagnosis.
 

EricFeczko

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Rick Westhead‏Verified account @rwesthead 42m42 minutes ago
Breaking: Boston University researchers say they have developed a method that may help diagnose CTE in living patients.

If this comes to pass, buh bye football
Uh, no, not at all. I wish this would be "buh bye ignorant twitterbugs". It won't be.

"Science journalists" should do their goddamn job and call the studies as they are instead of some imagined fantasy filled with unicorn piss and fairy farts.

Below is the actual article, it has great basic research value, but little translational value. Sorry, no diagnostics here and nothing remotely resembling a "method to diagnose" of any kind , though I'd be happy to chat about CCL11 (implicated in other dementias like fucking AD itself) and the DLFC (implicated in some forms of FTD, but not AD, typically).

http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0185541

EDIT: Sorry for my tone, but the discussion of a scientifically interesting but clinically unuseful article pissed me off. McKee's benefiting from the current climate, but I remain unconvinced that CTE is somehow different from other dementias -- all this article shows is a very subtle difference in a protein expression in DLFC, and I wouldnt be surprised if a follow up contradicts the dissociation between AD and CTE found here. This is a small sample, especially on the AD and healthy side, to make any strong claims about differentiation at all.
 
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Hoodie Sleeves

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Imagine if most teams looked like the Jets or Browns talent-wise.
100K people show up to games for college teams that wouldn't be able to score on the Jets or Browns, at all. Lack of talent isn't going to kill the NFL.

Also, when talent drops uniformly, and you have no objective measures (like lap times, etc), its hard for most fans to notice - especially when most fans have no idea what is happening on most of the field. Most NFL fans idea of a football game is 10 yards either side of the quarterback, zooming in when he throws, and completely ignoring the lineman unless one of them blows it.
 

Marciano490

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100K people show up to games for college teams that wouldn't be able to score on the Jets or Browns, at all. Lack of talent isn't going to kill the NFL.

Also, when talent drops uniformly, and you have no objective measures (like lap times, etc), its hard for most fans to notice - especially when most fans have no idea what is happening on most of the field. Most NFL fans idea of a football game is 10 yards either side of the quarterback, zooming in when he throws, and completely ignoring the lineman unless one of them blows it.
Right, that's why Browns vs. Bengals games will have equal ratings this year and be put on MNF.

I wonder how transferable football skills and builds are to other sports. I assume a lot of QBs could be pitchers, at least through college. Linebacks, DEs, TEs and DBs have builds that could transfer to basketball or baseball, if not the actual hand-eye coordination and other attributes. I imagine the most pressure will be on the linemen.
 

soxfan121

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There are many legitimate contributory factors that have resulted in boxing's (slow) participatory and viewership decline -- too many weight classes, much larger pool of other entertainment options, PPV, increased number of governing bodies, etc. But if this is even among those reasons, it is certainly not THE reason. It's wrong on timing and factually baseless. It reeks of a Bill Simmons hot take.


You are, of course, correct that there are many contributing factors and that if this were an actual discussion of boxing's decline, it would be negligent to try and encapsulate all of the variables in one sentence.

But since this is a discussion about football, a one sentence rebuttal to a prior post about boxing's connection to the problem of head injuries in sport seemed pithy, but appropriate. YMMV.

Don't you think this will just go the way of smoking? Smoking kills, and even thought tobacco companies sports years fighting the science, all that ended up happening in a warning on the pack. Smoking has fallen out of favour, but is still a huge business. Signing a form that it is harmful to your health, etc, etc, should cover it. I mentioned in the ratings thread that the decline in kids playing probably has a lot to do with the ratings drop.

Ali was mentioned. I have read he was actually more susceptible to what happened to him than most boxers. Maybe the science will advance to the point you take a test and find out football is not for you. There is some controversy about women's college basketball teams shying away from players with physical predispositions to knee injuries.
This is a terrific post. Particularly the second paragraph, which is what the NFL (and NCAA) should have been doing these last 30 years instead of burying their players' heads in the sand and ignoring evidence. Had this research been done, there almost certainly would be testing for susceptibility to head injuries. But since neuroscience has largely been relegated to the outhouse because of its inherent difficulty and shallow existing knowledge pool, this stuff remains "a mystery." The NFL knew this was important and chose to actively bury the evidence. Think of what the science they should have funded might have resulted in by now!

I think there will someday be a test, and it will allow for football to live on like a tobacco company - at least for the next couple generations.

Uh, no, not at all. I wish this would be "buh bye ignorant twitterbugs". It won't be.

"Science journalists" should do their goddamn job and call the studies as they are instead of some imagined fantasy filled with unicorn piss and fairy farts.

Below is the actual article, it has great basic research value, but little translational value. Sorry, no diagnostics here and nothing remotely resembling a "method to diagnose" of any kind , though I'd be happy to chat about CCL11 (implicated in other dementias like fucking AD itself) and the DLFC (implicated in some forms of FTD, but not AD, typically).

http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0185541

EDIT: Sorry for my tone, but the discussion of a scientifically interesting but clinically unuseful article pissed me off. McKee's benefiting from the current climate, but I remain unconvinced that CTE is somehow different from other dementias -- all this article shows is a very subtle difference in a protein expression in DLFC, and I wouldnt be surprised if a follow up contradicts the dissociation between AD and CTE found here. This is a small sample, especially on the AD and healthy side, to make any strong claims about differentiation at all.
I wish I were capable of being that polite when I was trying to be nice. Of course you get ticked off by incomplete and inaccurate discussion on this topic - I know Dr. Awesome gets pissed off in every thread where people try to diagnose shoulder injuries from their couch.

However, "science journalists" should be spared a little bit of ire - getting any attention on this issue seemingly requires the HOTTEST of hot take headlines to enter the news cycle. That's why the 99 out 101 didn't stir up a fuss but 102 of 105 did (or whatever those numbers were). The inaccurate headlines and sensational presentation is just how that shit works these days, so I cut the "journalists" a lot of slack. Unicorn piss is effective in the propaganda game. Fairy farts are just scrumptious any time.
 
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uncannymanny

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100K people show up to games for college teams that wouldn't be able to score on the Jets or Browns, at all. Lack of talent isn't going to kill the NFL.

Also, when talent drops uniformly, and you have no objective measures (like lap times, etc), its hard for most fans to notice - especially when most fans have no idea what is happening on most of the field. Most NFL fans idea of a football game is 10 yards either side of the quarterback, zooming in when he throws, and completely ignoring the lineman unless one of them blows it.
Having the things that say Julio Jones and ODB can do just go away would not go unnoticed. That top 5% talent is what makes the NFL. If those players start playing baseball, for instance, that would definitely alter the sports viewership landscape.

I definitely thought about CFB, but I don’t know if it is quite analogous to a watered down NFL. I think the local and alumni connection is much stronger than most NFL fans have to their teams. Secondly, if those players aren’t going to the NFL, presumably they aren’t playing CFB at the same percentages either.
 

soxfan121

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That top 5% talent is what makes the NFL. If those players start playing baseball, for instance, that would definitely alter the sports viewership landscape.
Maybe. I am unconvinced that the type of kid who wants to play football is going to change to a kid who wants to play baseball. That kid is much more likely, IMO, to end up playing lacrosse. Or basketball - which they probably play off season anyway. The decline of football is not going to result in a talent influx for baseball.
 

Marciano490

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Maybe. I am unconvinced that the type of kid who wants to play football is going to change to a kid who wants to play baseball. That kid is much more likely, IMO, to end up playing lacrosse. Or basketball - which they probably play off season anyway. The decline of football is not going to result in a talent influx for baseball.
I have no idea why you'd think that. All the skill position players who are 5'10 to 6'2 and can't make it as a point guard are going where? And lol at lacrosse - how much does that pay? My high school lacrosse coach played for the Blazers and still had to teach at my school. And drove a Miata. A Miata, man.
 

Kliq

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The comparison to smoking is interesting, because literally everyone over the age of three in this country knows that smoking cigarettes is extremely unhealthy, yet a sizable portion of the population still chooses to do it. At this point I'd like to believe that 99% of HS and above football players understand that concussions are very bad, although the line is how people evaluate the significant danger of concussions. One day, will we see football be as specialized as smoking, not as big as it once was but still attractive to a certain smaller portion of the population.

The issue is that smoking still exists as a major industry because people still smoke. The NFL doesn't exist because people like to play football but rather because people like to watch football. Even if the talent pool shrunk by 75 percent that wouldn't necessarily mean the football fans would decrease by 75 percent, you could make an argument that it wouldn't decrease very much at all.

The other thing is that the allure of football is much stronger than the allure of smoking. Smoking gives you a rush of dopamine and the idea of looking "cool." Football has the allure of vast fame and fortune, in addition to the joy of competing. It isn't going to be as simple as telling people it's dangerous over and over again which is what reduced the tobacco industry. It would have to be a round about reduction of a lack of elite players, leading to more fans tuning out leading to lower attendance and TV deals, leading to lower salaries for players and eventually a huge drop in athletes deciding football isn't for them.
 

Marciano490

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You guys can't seriously be comparing cigarettes to football. Look, I love sports, and I love training, but it's not actually addictive.
 

reggiecleveland

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???
The comparison is how to legally proceed. There is deadly product on the market that tried to fight the proof it was deadly, but despite everyone knowing it is deadly or at least dangerous the industry thrives.

The fact football is not addictive makes a "play at your own risk" end game more likley no?

The choice of sport is quite regional. Canada has the odd world class sprinter every few Olympics because those kids don't automatically play team sports. A super athletic kid is Texas is more likley to end up on the football field while in NYC or Indiana or Vilnius they play hoops. So unless football drops off the map in the hotbeds there will be talent available for a while.

Th hilarious thing for me the parts of the USA most likley to ignore he science on football also support the president that picked a fight with the NFL. You notice Trump has not breathed a word about concussions. I expect a tweet about the virtues of NCAA football soon, probably with thinly veiled racism, college players know their place, are not so uppity, etc.
 

soxfan121

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You guys can't seriously be comparing cigarettes to football. Look, I love sports, and I love training, but it's not actually addictive.

REALLY? (what a rush)

Seriously, I don't think you understand smoking cigarettes, which is less of a physical addiction and much more a psychological one. And if you don't think the guy pictured above is psychologically addicted (to the competition, etc.) then I will not try to sell you electrolytes or avocado ice cream. The pleasure center of the brain is weird, man.

Less seriously, I am discounting your opinion on this matter because you've proven you are somewhat addicted to being hit in the head by large, fast athletes. Which might not be an addiction in and of itself but gets real close, and that's without taking into account the camaraderie of any activity like football or getting punched in the face repeatedly.
 

EricFeczko

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You guys can't seriously be comparing cigarettes to football. Look, I love sports, and I love training, but it's not actually addictive.
Could you define what you mean by addicition here? The term is loaded and confusing, so I'm just gonna comment here; the below somewhat supports your point, albeit for different reasons.

Cigarette usage patterns are very different from cocaine, heroin, or alcohol use. In fact, you have to use different animal models and approaches just to study it (rodents and most monkeys will not titrate nicotine on their own).

I don't want to get into it, mostly because I am waking up and feeling a little lazy. I do recommend reading primary research articles on nicotine addiction because it is so fascinating. There exists a minority of the U.S. population in studies, for whom, nicotine use is preferred but titrated ( AFAIK binge-use of nicotine is rarely seen, if it even occurs) . However, the majority of U.S. people studied are repulsed by the effects. There are strong biological factors that may drive these effects.

There also exists a smaller minority of people who exercise excessively, despite adverse effects to health. I wouldn't call exercise an addiction here, because I suspect an underlying anxiety and/or body dismorphic issue may be the root. Nevertheless the frequency of exercise behavior is probably more similar to nicotine use than substances that are uncontroversially addictive (e.g. cocaine or heroin).

Of course, the difference here is that cigarette use has far fewer benefits (lower risk for dementia and colon cancer, better source memory encoding and retrieval) than exercise (too many to mention). On the other hand playing in the NFL may carry a similar risk but for very different health problems (e.g. dementia, arthritis) than cigarettes.

Finally, the financial incentives are antipodes of one another. A consumer pays for cigarettes; an NFL player gets paid to play. Cigarettes can be disencentivized simply by raising the price; its harder to do the same for a prospective NFL player.
 

Ralphwiggum

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Buried in Trump's anthem rant was the other thing he was saying about football, that liberal weenies were ruining the sport by not allowing the players to hit each other anymore. I wonder how many people who agree with him on the anthem also agree with him on that, and would reject this entire discussion out of hand? Seems like it would be a significant number, and those people would more likely be located in parts of the country where we get a lot of our elite football talent. I dunno, I think football may be in trouble due to a decline in the talent pool and the "ick" factor that fans are already feeling watching these guys literally kill each other, but I also think this entire discussion is evaluating those issues through an entirely different lens than lots and lots of people who love watching football and have no qualms about their kids playing.