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What Happens To a Football Player's Neurons?

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the hut-hut-huuuuuut dept.

Medicine 176

An anonymous reader writes "It seems like every week there's a new story about the consequences of all those concussions experienced by football players and other athletes — just a few days ago, the NY Times reported that some athletes diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's Disease may actually have a neural disease brought on by head trauma. But missing in these stories is an explanation of what head trauma actually does to the brain cells. Now Carl Zimmer has filled in the gap with a column that takes a look at how neurons respond to stress, and explains how stretching a neuron's axon turns its internal structure into 'mush.'"

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176 comments

Don't forget about their scrotums. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33308416)

Athletes who use steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs often have horribly shrunken and deformed testes and scrotums.

Re:Don't forget about their scrotums. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33308526)

They still have more sex than all slashdotters combined.

Re:Don't forget about their scrotums. (4, Funny)

couchslug (175151) | more than 3 years ago | (#33308552)

This thread is worthless without pics!

Re:Don't forget about their scrotums. (3, Insightful)

mangu (126918) | more than 3 years ago | (#33308594)

Athletes who use steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs often have horribly shrunken and deformed testes and scrotums.

So, you have to be really dumb to use steroids. The prosecution rests.

Re:Don't forget about their scrotums. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33308738)

I take it that you have inspected the reproductive organs on many professional athletes using steroids and found them somewhat deficient?

Re:Don't forget about their scrotums. (1)

telchine (719345) | more than 3 years ago | (#33309728)

You refer to "athletes". I suspect you made the same mistake as me. This "news" story does not refer to footballers, it actually refers to those that partake in "American Football", please do not confuse them with athletes that play real football!

David Beckham never had any significant amount of neurons to damage in the first place!

Re:Don't forget about their scrotums. (1)

DWMorse (1816016) | more than 3 years ago | (#33309904)

Say what you like about the intelligence of (or money made by) American Football players, nobody makes videos like THIS [youtube.com] about our guys =P

So now instead of calling jocks meat-heads, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33308424)

call the mush-heads.

Interesting... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33308460)

.........I didn't know athletes/footballers had neurons.

Re:Interesting... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33308918)

Strange, isn't it? To a footballer, they are sort of like the appendix. Even though you don't really have any use for it, it is still there anyways. And like the appendix, a footballer's head tends to be full of shit.

Re:Interesting... (1)

mkiwi (585287) | more than 3 years ago | (#33309520)

The only thing we really know is that the big dumb jocks you meet in high school only get bigger and dumber.

I did not know that. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33308464)

News flash: that big chunk of grey matter inside of our head is *fragile*. ORLY?

True geniuses? (2, Insightful)

mangu (126918) | more than 3 years ago | (#33308488)

Yet there are people who argue that football is a game based on sophisticated strategies, that anyone able to play it proficiently must have an intelligence on the higher outliers of genius.

Now it seems that "mushy" neurons are good enough...

Re:True geniuses? (0)

uniquename72 (1169497) | more than 3 years ago | (#33308514)

Which people say that again? Fact is, nearly every decision is made by people who aren't even on the field. The players might as well be robots.

Re:True geniuses? (1)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | more than 3 years ago | (#33308538)

THAT would be cool! And if the robot players could have saws and hammers on their arms all the better!

Re:True geniuses? (4, Interesting)

P0ltergeist333 (1473899) | more than 3 years ago | (#33308600)

I completely disagree. No offensive scheme or technique on it's own is a match for a good linebacker or DB who can read offenses. And no defensive scheme or technique on it's own is a match for a good quarterback and skilled players who can read defenses and adjust on the fly. Linemen need to be able to make split second decisions and reads and adjust accordingly. I cannot reconcile your statement with reality at all.

Re:True geniuses? (1)

Evil Shabazz (937088) | more than 3 years ago | (#33309018)

Most athletes need to make split second decisions, but as an athlete I can tell you that mostly comes from talent + practice. Do the smarter athletes excel when compared to equal talent? In my experience yes. But would I compare Peyton Manning with Albert Einstein? Would you?

Re:True geniuses? (1)

jdoverholt (1229898) | more than 3 years ago | (#33309150)

But would I compare Peyton Manning with Albert Einstein? Would you?

Yes, yes I would. It's easy, looks like this:

(with regards to intelligence) : Peyton Manning < Albert Einstein

It's not an insult either, it's just the way it is.

Re:True geniuses? (3, Insightful)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 3 years ago | (#33309466)

Define "smart", experience has shown us that measuring intelligence as a single vector is folly. It does take a certain kind of intelligence to be able to quickly read and react to the changing conditions on the field. However that same intelligence may not necessarily be very applicable to designing a particle collider and vice-versa. To put it another way, you really cannot say that "Einstein was smarter than Mozart" because that statement really depends on how you define "smart". I'm sure if Einstein decided to become a composer he probably could have wrote something passable since he was quite intelligent, but I doubt it would have reached the level of Mozart. And I'm sure if Mozart was a scientist in the early 20th century he probably could have made a living at it but I doubt he would have excelled to the level of Einstein.

Re:True geniuses? (3, Interesting)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 3 years ago | (#33310100)

Led Gardner places intelligence into eight groups. Logical, linguistic, spatial, musical, kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalist. They're all lateral to each other. To this day, his idea on the subject is controversial.

Re:True geniuses? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33309610)

Playing middle linebacker, I needed to reconcile the offense's set, their personnel, hours of studied game film, my coach's desires, our playbook, the down and distance, and my personnel on the field. Once those were reconciled, I had to call any changes necessary to the defense and prepare myself for the play. I had seconds to do this, and I did this dozens of times a game, often while under extreme physical duress, sometimes with thousands of people screaming for blood from the stands.

Comparatively, my CS classes were a breeze.

Re:True geniuses? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33308662)

Which people say that again?

It was a common thing back in the day to claim that black players were only suited to be linebackers, because the other positions in football required "too much intelligence." Now that black players have entered and excelled in those positions, sports people don't talk about that anymore.

It's funny, back in the nineteen thirties, Jewish players dominated basketball, and sports commentators made up all kinds of racial Just-So stories to explain that, too. (Because just saying "they live in the ghetto, and there's not much to do but play basketball" wasn't interesting enough.) Like how the game required a great deal of cunning and misdirection, and that Jews were very sneaky and agile, so that's why they were the best at basketball.

  Uh...

  Yeah, I know. The intersection of race and sports is a curious place.

Re:True geniuses? (1)

_merlin (160982) | more than 3 years ago | (#33308564)

The players don't have to be smart - they just have to memorise set plays. That doesn't require a great deal of intelligence.

Re:True geniuses? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33308670)

Nothing happens to a football players neurons He just isn't required to develop them.
In the USA, He can get bogus High school and Colleges diploma as a gift,
While having a true verbal and reading comprehension level of grade 5 or 6

He doesn't need to learn like others ..all he needs is game!
Anyone who thinks this isn't the case,Meet them and ask them basic things, but be ready to run,These peoples brains can run high on the reactive/reptilian side.

Re:True geniuses? (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#33308862)

Have you seen a printout of a modern football playbook? It's usually a binder that looks big under an offensive lineman's arm.

Re:True geniuses? (1)

joeyblades (785896) | more than 3 years ago | (#33308930)

The playbook only tells you the general plan. In reality, players have to react to hundreds or thousands of variables. Dumb people don't make it in real football... which is not to say that real football players don't do some really dumb stuff, but then you should see what goes on after hours at Strings [www-conference.slu.se] .

Re:True geniuses? (1)

BigJClark (1226554) | more than 3 years ago | (#33308580)


Playbooks aren't designed during the game, and the execution plan is decided by the offensive co-ordinator on the sidelines.

Arguably the players who suffer the most amount of concussions are the linemen, and I hate to generalize, but there is a reason these guys don't pick the plays.

Re:True geniuses? (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 3 years ago | (#33308686)

The game could require strategy, but the strategist could be out of the field. In fact, the smart ones there and others that have that kind of risk (i.e. boxing) probably play in a way or another from ouside (managers, coachers, trainers, lawyers, etc).

Hold on... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33308490)

footballers have neurons???

feh (2, Funny)

AdmiralXyz (1378985) | more than 3 years ago | (#33308616)

This is all just a conspiracy by the liberal media to destroy an American pasttime. There's still no REAL proof that football causes any blane dibblage.

Re:feh (1)

Entropy98 (1340659) | more than 3 years ago | (#33309794)

What about Lou Gehrig? How many times could he have gotten hit in the head playing baseball? I would be not that many...

--
  Windows Media Codec Pack [cnet.com]

Wa...? (1)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 3 years ago | (#33308618)

What they need neurons for?

Re:Wa...? (2, Insightful)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#33308790)

Pretty much everything, but to be able to rub the lotion on Giselle's back on the beach in Ipanema might be the simplest way to express it.

Re:Wa...? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33309302)

So ... it rubs the lotion on its skin or else it gets the hose again?

So maybe it wasn't just a coincidence (0)

Megahard (1053072) | more than 3 years ago | (#33308626)

That Lou Gehrig died from Lou Gehrig's disease.

Re:So maybe it wasn't just a coincidence (2, Informative)

Maarx (1794262) | more than 3 years ago | (#33308672)

Re:So maybe it wasn't just a coincidence (1)

Anubis IV (1279820) | more than 3 years ago | (#33308782)

Darn right. What with all the repeat concussions from full-contact baseball injuries, it's a wonder he even made it as far as he did. I can't believe that barbaric sports like baseball are still practiced in modern society. They're just a step above the bloodletting of the Coliseum, if you ask me, what with all of the violence, injury, and frothing at the mouths that they encourage. If only there was a sport that used weapons, such as bats, for something other than hitting others. Or didn't involve ramming into others as you progressed from a start point, a first base, if you will, to an end point, such as a home. What I would give for a sport that didn't necessitate armoring its players as they headed into combat.

Oh, wait...

Re:So maybe it wasn't just a coincidence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33308992)

Enjoy your golf.

Just football? (1)

guppysap13 (1225926) | more than 3 years ago | (#33308642)

Certainly there also has to be some damage done by banging heads on keyboards for years...

American Football is not Football (5, Informative)

hernol (1402569) | more than 3 years ago | (#33308656)

Just to point, we are talking about American Football, not Football. It's not the same.

Re:American Football is not Football (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33308684)

Right. Thanks for clearing that up. We're talking about real football.

Re:American Football is not Football (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33309958)

You mean handegg. [encycloped...matica.com]

Re:American Football is not Football (2, Insightful)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | more than 3 years ago | (#33308704)

Actually, football (soccer here in the US) [washington.edu] has risk factors of its own including heading the ball causes neuronal damage.

Re:American Football is not Football (0, Troll)

ooshna (1654125) | more than 3 years ago | (#33308888)

Yeah and injuries pulling a muscle pretending your hurt and in agony every time you fall.

Re:American Football is not Football (1)

abhi_beckert (785219) | more than 3 years ago | (#33309756)

Have you ever headed a soccer ball? They're extremely light. And while there's contact all the time, soccer players are too fast/agile to do much damage.

I'm not so familiar with american football (looks like they wear a lot of padding), but there's no comparing soccer injuries to what see regularly in australia: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kFy_kBEn5UY [youtube.com] (fast forward to 50 seconds in).

Re:American Football is not Football (1)

winwar (114053) | more than 3 years ago | (#33309910)

"Have you ever headed a soccer ball?"

Yes.

"They're extremely light."

So is a baseball. But I don't think you would want to take one to the head. And soccer balls can reach a significant fraction of the speed of a pitch. Head them wrong and they can cause real damage and broken bones (been there, done that). Done right they still cause damage.

"And while there's contact all the time, soccer players are too fast/agile to do much damage."

Then why is one of my friends suffering permanent brain damage from a concussion suffered in recreational soccer? One player's shoulder contacted my friend's head while attempting a fairly routine header. So much for his career as a medical doctor. Concussions are not unusual in soccer. I've had minor ones myself. Considering the collisions I've had as a keeper, it's amazing I haven't had more. It's the primary reason I no longer play. Soccer is a contact sport.

Re:American Football is not Football (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#33310316)

I used to play and yes we do wear padding, but it's a pretty significant hit. First off the helmets we wear are hard, meaning they don't do a particularly good job of absorbing the impact. Secondly, football players are typically large and travelling quite fast. It's a significant hit that results in 2 180+ lbs., players each running in excess of 16 mph each. That's a pretty significant hit. And that's actually achievable even in high school, the pros can weigh more and run even a bit faster.

A hit like that is a bit like hitting a brick wall going at arterial speeds. Unfortunately, the helmets are fairly thin and hard so it's really easy to get a concussion like that. I seem to recall seeing speculation a while back that the helmets might do more harm than good for that very reason. They don't absorb very much energy and whereas a motorcycle helmet would be thrown out and replaced after just one impact like that, football helmets get reused.

Re:American Football is not Football (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33309838)

Actually, football (soccer here in the US) has risk factors of its own including heading the ball causes neuronal damage.

As others have pointed out, the ball is extremely light, and momentum is what counts. Not velocity. Your own link suggests that other encounters might explain the data.
Also, while one data point doesn't prove anything, Frank Lampard is a famous footballer who has a very high IQ score (http://www.mensa.org.uk/cgi-bin/item.cgi?id=988&d=23&h=5&f=3). Please show me one American football player who has anything even close?

Re:American Football is not Football (0)

BitterOak (537666) | more than 3 years ago | (#33308814)

Just to point, we are talking about American Football, not Football. It's not the same.

American Football is real football, just as is Canadian Football. The rules are slightly different, but there's no reason to claim one is any more real than the other.

Re:American Football is not Football (5, Funny)

PotatoFarmer (1250696) | more than 3 years ago | (#33308816)

Just to point, we are talking about American Football, not Football. It's not the same.

True. A medical story regarding non-American Football would likely cover one of these topics instead:

1. How a nudge to the shoulder can translate into a compound leg fracture.
2. How grabbing your shin while writhing on the ground can partially alleviate the pain of a compound leg fracture.
3. Whatever is in those magical spray cans the trainers carry around, and how they can instantly heal a compound leg fracture immediately after a penalty has been awarded.

Re:American Football is not Football (0)

Brian Boitano (514508) | more than 3 years ago | (#33310182)

So... really we're talking about Handegg [wordpress.com] , not Football.

No we're talking about Football... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33310336)

The term football for hundreds of years has been used to refer to many games that were "played on foot" as opposed to on horseback or some other means. "American Football" definitely gets a claim on that. Every bit as much as soccer (properly known as "Association Football").

Read, learn... (if you can)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Football

Re:American Football is not Football (3, Informative)

Barefoot Monkey (1657313) | more than 3 years ago | (#33308824)

Just to point, we are talking about American Football, not Football. It's not the same.

I think you mean to say that we are talking about American Football and not Association Football, known to some by its abbreviated name soccer and to others simply as football. American Football is a ball game played on foot, and thus is very much a type of football. In fact Rugby is also football - hence the Rugby Football Union.

See wikipedia's article on the word Football [wikipedia.org]

Re:American Football is not Football (1)

Trogre (513942) | more than 3 years ago | (#33309262)

That's why that version of Football, as in where you kick around a white spherical ball with black pentagons, should only ever be referred to by its proper name: Soccer.

Re:American Football is not Football (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33309862)

That's why that version of Football, as in where you kick around a white spherical ball with black pentagons, should only ever be referred to by its proper name: Soccer.

I agree. The rightful title of 'Football' should go to the sport where you carry an elliptical object with your hand and .. umm...

Nevermind.

Re:American Football is not Football (1)

labnet (457441) | more than 3 years ago | (#33309806)

Just to point, we are talking about American Football, not Football. It's not the same.

You mean that sport where there wear so much padding, you could drop them off a 10 storey building with no ill effect.
The rest of the world plays rugby!

Re:American Football is not Football (1)

tsalmark (1265778) | more than 3 years ago | (#33309888)

I think this hypothesis of yours should be tested, over and over again till high schools are once again safe for geeks.

Re:American Football is not Football (1)

BraksDad (963908) | more than 3 years ago | (#33310014)

Yeah, footballers almost die from a slight tap on the side of their foot. Surely a concussion would kill them outright.

That is why in the USA it is a womans game. They have a higher pain threshold (sp?)

The amount of replies to this story (5, Interesting)

Anarki2004 (1652007) | more than 3 years ago | (#33308668)

The number of replies to this story seems to indicate that perhaps a vast majority of slashdotters don't particularly like football players. I was actually hoping for some technical insight and whatnot, but it would seem everybody is still maintaining the same attitude they had in high school.

Re:The amount of replies to this story (1)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | more than 3 years ago | (#33308754)

I had a chemistry teacher as an undergrad who played football (American kind) in college. He said his adviser gave him a hard time because "chemistry majors shouldn't play football".

My orthodontist played football in HS and college. He always advised kids not to play it: knee damage, concussions, damage to teeth and jaw - mouth guards only give you so much protection.

Re:The amount of replies to this story (2, Funny)

Knuckles (8964) | more than 3 years ago | (#33309044)

Everybody knows that the only healthy thing you can do is to sit at a desk with a computer for 50 years!!

Re:The amount of replies to this story (5, Insightful)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 3 years ago | (#33308810)

Funny thing is, at least in places (not Texas) that don't take high school football too seriously, football is an excellent opportunity for a nerd to get into the "in" crowd.

In fact, it's how I became "cool." It didn't matter how well you played or how annoying or ugly you were, as long as you survived hell week and stuck with the team, you were in with the cool people(and, by extension, the juniors and seniors and the parties that they threw and all the pussy surrounding that whole scene). You were allowed to scream, cuss, punch lockers, high-five, whatever you had to do to shrug off the pain...as long as you took your hits and didn't cry like a bitch on the field.

Plus, a working knowledge of sports makes it much easier to bond with others and make new friends. And, of course, the health benefits. Now if only those damn San Diego Chargers would quit taking bribes and fucking up in the playoffs so I can see them win at least one super bowl before I die.

Re:The amount of replies to this story (1)

dawgs72 (1025358) | more than 3 years ago | (#33309878)

I'm also a former football player. I enjoyed all the perks you mentioned as well.

One thing I didn't enjoy were multiple concussions while playing. I believe in 3 years of starting games I had 5 concussions. That's not even counting the 2 in middle school/youth league. After one particularly bad concussion I forgot what had happened the previous week. If that can happen in the short term to someone who just played 12 years, I can only imagine what happens in the long term to professional athletes.

Re:The amount of replies to this story (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 3 years ago | (#33310438)

Ah a Chargers fan. Being a 49ers fan myself, I always like to meet Chargers fans. And watch them squirm in pain and agony as they remember the excitement of the final score: 49-26. When the 49ers were so far ahead the put defensive players on the offense just for fun. Oh, you do remember that don't you?

Actually that's not true, I don't like football at all, except when I meet people from San Diego. Then somehow it becomes fun.

Re:The amount of replies to this story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33308822)

Technical insight? You're looking for 2001-Slashdot. I'd give you directions, but you can't get there from here.

Re:The amount of replies to this story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33309558)

IIt's not that Slashdotter don't like Football players , Slashdotter are realists.
Few of us would survive as media or lawmakers . We're not full of crap or ourselves
  Maybe they just make us realize that it takes very little brains to be a football player .A fan wont like those facts
 

It makes the fans uncomfortable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33309736)

The New Yorker had an excellent article about this recently: http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2009/10/19/091019fa_fact_gladwell?currentPage=all

Don't be so quick to credit the lack of comments to American Football's popularity on slashdot - though the topic of professional sports is not usually the most popular topic amongst a group of self described "nerds".

I credit the lack of comments to the fact that the horrible permanent injuries, physical and mental, accrued by the people playing the game (aka the "heroes" or the "stars", as they are usually referred to in popular American culture) makes them, in fact, victims. Admittedly it is hard to call a person who has earned millions of dollars a "victim", but they are - just as much as someone who receives millions of dollars as the result of a crippling car accident. And many (read: most) of them don't earn nearly that much money, but still accumulate lifetime injuries over a relatively short career.

These players almost never understand the long term repercussions of the sport. Of course even if they did, many would play in spite of the dangers, just as people smoke cigarettes despite decades of evidence indicating the damage caused to the body...but the dangers should at least be publicly acknowledged.

Re:The amount of replies to this story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33309998)

Technical insight...

slamming your body forcefully into other large objects on a daily basis is not healthy.

There... theres your insight.

What... not insightful? Pff... the football players havent figured it out yet...

Re:The amount of replies to this story (1)

BraksDad (963908) | more than 3 years ago | (#33310036)

I have 6 concussions to my name. The only bone I have ever broken is my head. I now have brain cancer... perhaps there is a connection. ???

Re:The amount of replies to this story (1)

Anarki2004 (1652007) | more than 3 years ago | (#33310110)

I have at least four concussions (one of them quite severe) to my name but no brain cancer - perhaps there is a connection? I'm just joshing, but that does make me wonder if there is a correlation (and causation) between head injuries and brain cancer...

Re:The amount of replies to this story (1)

Type44Q (1233630) | more than 3 years ago | (#33310098)

...but it would seem everybody is still maintaining the same attitude they had in high school.

If anything, my experiences have taught me that it was then - and still is - a perfectly valid attitude, thank you very much. :P

Re:The amount of replies to this story (1)

Anarki2004 (1652007) | more than 3 years ago | (#33310232)

Oh crap...it would appear that my statement is losing validity. Stop replying people! I shouldn't even be posting this message...

Re:The amount of replies to this story (1)

donscarletti (569232) | more than 3 years ago | (#33310250)

I think it is not that slashdotters dislike football players, otherwise they would be all here ranting, it is just that they probably do not find it all that interesting. It is all just a matter of taste and personal interests which can even change over time. My father is an academic dude, who topped his state in highschool, has two four year degrees, a research masters and is currently working on his PhD. When he was younger he could never stand watching any sport, however when he was forty or so, he realised that professional sport was the only thing he could watch who's ending was not made up by script writers and now it is all he watches.

I have never played American or Canadian football, but rugby is very fun to play apart from the concussions. Last time I played it I was out for a few second, lost 5 minutes of memory and realised I couldn't do it anymore since I was risking far too much compared to what playing the game is worth to me. If you've been taken down by a rough tackle before, I think the risks should be pretty obvious to you, your brain does give some pretty heavy feedback to let you know it's sustained a blow. You just have to make a decision about what you value in your life, some will chose football, some won't. That said, plenty of Rhodes Scholarships have been given to amateur rugby players, so it isn't universally crippling.

Re:The amount of replies to this story (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#33310342)

You might want to check my other post out. A relatively typical open field tackle involves 2 180+ players each travelling at 16+ mph. And is a really nasty hit, the protective gear doesn't really do a whole lot to elleviate that kind of energy. Which by the way is typical for high school ball, college and pro ball are probably both worse as the players are both bigger and faster.

I played a bit of DB and tight end and there's a lot more thought to it than the /. nerds really want to acknowledge. DBs in particular have to be really good in watching subtle body language and keeping up with the receivers. Probably 90% of football is cerebral in some fashion. I was both the smallest and the slowest player on my team, but I got the physics and was able to hit harder than guys bigger than me because I wasn't particularly afraid of getting hit. I was also able to get under the bigger guys and consequently able to hold back guys weighing nearly a hundred pounds more than myself.

It really depends upon the school, but the guys I played with were good guys. I don't recall a single bully amongst them.

Re:The amount of replies to this story (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33310358)

A very good portion of us, who have dedicated our lives to actually accomplishing things that advance human society, prefer not to worship idiots who run around on a field and consume resources.

It should also be noted that many of us have not, nor will we ever, forget who the enemy is. There is nothing wrong with maintaining the "same attitude [we] had in high school." A recent study noted that personalities are mostly fixed from age 6-7 onward. You were the enemy then, you are still the enemy now.

And in case my point is not clear: If you are or ever were a jock, go fuck yourself.

Re:The amount of replies to this story (1)

fermion (181285) | more than 3 years ago | (#33310418)

High school football has some redeeming qualities, and it is only in the backwater rural and suburban parts of Texas where they actively weed out players.

It is exposing younger players to the injuries of this and other sports that is going to be a problem for an already strained healthcare system and limit the opportunities for gainful employment due to physical and mental disabilities. I have seen parents as young as 10 in situations where they can be injured. Though young children are plastic, injuries do occur. It is reported that ACL injuries, for example, cannot effectively be treated in adolescents. Brain injuries, of course, are not treatable at any age. Concussions,the subject of the present report, simply have more time to accumulate.

The sad thing is that many skills that some say can only be achieved through hgih impact sports can often be achieved with superior results in other ways. Fine motor control, of course, is legos. Hand eye coordination can be achieved by disassembly and things such as soldering. I can assemble mechanical system without even looking at them, just by touch. Lower impact sports, like running, casual futbol, and tennis or even simple hoops provides superior fitness without as much risk to injury. And of course, increasingly school are only giving partial scholarships for sports while full scholarships are still available to students with useful skills.

Handegg (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33308690)

An effeminate version of rugby.

Re:Handegg (-1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#33308772)

mod parent -1 for waste of AC checkbox in the face of an obvious opportunity for a very lewd reference

Read about it in GQ (2, Informative)

djlemma (1053860) | more than 3 years ago | (#33308706)

The October 2009 issue of GQ had a major article about this. Click to read it here. [gq.com]

I found the article actually pretty fascinating, but it is a bit of a narrative about this particular doctor's quest to bring his research into the public eye.

Also, who knew GQ had such a fantastic catalog of their back-issues? I think I might have to read their stuff more often. I know it's very un-slashdot of me, but whatever.

Who cares? (1)

OpenSourced (323149) | more than 3 years ago | (#33308786)

After all, they don't worry about what happens to geeks' muscles.

hmm (4, Interesting)

nomadic (141991) | more than 3 years ago | (#33308842)

I remember seeing an article very recently (on Slashdot maybe) that pointed out that boxing got more dangerous when they started using padded gloves, because that let the boxers hit with all their strength. Take away the football helmets and pads and you might get more contusions and cuts, but less brain damage; it would be more like rugby with the players hitting each other much more softly.

Re:hmm (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33309000)

Yes, that's an accurate assessment about football vs. rugby that's brought up occasionally. Rugby players would kill themselves (literally) if they hit with equal force. But football players would be on the ground exhausted if they ran just half as much as their counterparts.

Professional boxers greatly outmatch even most football players when it comes to sustaining insane amounts of head trauma. But somehow that discussion is culturally taboo or something.

Re:hmm (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 3 years ago | (#33309198)

Yes, that's an accurate assessment about football vs. rugby that's brought up occasionally. Rugby players would kill themselves (literally) if they hit with equal force. But football players would be on the ground exhausted if they ran just half as much as their counterparts.

True on both accounts.

Professional boxers greatly outmatch even most football players when it comes to sustaining insane amounts of head trauma. But somehow that discussion is culturally taboo or something.

I think it's pretty well-accepted that boxers are inevitably going to suffer long-term brain trauma from boxing, despite the ridiculously ineffective safeguards they use (referee stopping the fight if one fighter is dazed too long, months between matches, etc.)

Re:hmm (1)

Espressor (1476671) | more than 3 years ago | (#33309228)

I read an article in a boxing magazine years ago that claimed that padded leather helmets are bad too: they somehow transform the shock wave from a hit in such a way that it actually damages the brain even more that with no helmet.

The disturbing TFA makes me think I am rather happy not to kickbox anymore.

Re:hmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33309328)

I remember seeing an article very recently (on Slashdot maybe) that pointed out that boxing got more dangerous when they started using padded gloves, because that let the boxers hit with all their strength. Take away the football helmets and pads and you might get more contusions and cuts, but less brain damage; it would be more like rugby with the players hitting each other much more softly.

That's a nice theory.

It's also wrong.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15335432 [nih.gov]
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15335433 [nih.gov]

Rates of skull and head injury have dropped with each succeeding generation of football helmet. Neck injuries briefly increased after the advent of the plastic helmet, but rule changes took care of most of that.

Re:hmm (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33309564)

Those two articles observe that increased regulation and improved helmet safety resulted in less injuries. You allude to players tackling more strongly when better equipment safely allowed them to. The OP posited that players without padding and helmets would consciously elect to tackle with less impact, reducing injuries of their own volition. None of these three observations conflict.

Boxing is not a real sport (2, Insightful)

billstewart (78916) | more than 3 years ago | (#33309746)

The objective in boxing is to cause sufficient brain trauma to your opponent that he loses consciousness or can no longer stand up. That's not a sport, that's barbarism, and has no business in a civilized society. the short term, it's highly dangerous, and in the long term it can turn you into what's left of Muhammad Ali.

By contrast, wrestling is a real sport, in spite of the fact that professional boxing is for real and professional wrestling is as much fake showmanship as sport. (And yes, just because it's fake doesn't mean than any of those guys can't throw my ass out of the ring, and look good doing it.)

Re:Boxing is not a real sport (1)

jack2000 (1178961) | more than 3 years ago | (#33310382)

Meh, Sumo is more entertaining. Now there's a sport. It's all about balance and technique.
You don't need to be extremely heavy either just look at some of the lighter ones like Kotooshu

Re:hmm (4, Informative)

westlake (615356) | more than 3 years ago | (#33310210)

Take away the football helmets and pads and you might get more contusions and cuts, but less brain damage; it would be more like rugby with the players hitting each other much more softly

College football had become so lethal around 1900 that the game came within an inch of being abandoned.

The 1905 season...brought its rash of casualties. There were twenty-three football deaths. Only a handful took place in intercollegiate play, but one in particular set in motion the movement to reform the game. In a match between Union College and New York University, Harold Moore of Union died after being kicked in the head. Chancellor Henry M. MacCracken of NYU seized the opportunity to summon a reform conference.

In the 1906 season and for two years following, the verdict on the "new football" was generally favorable. In spite of fluctuations in the injury count, the number of deaths dropped to fourteen, fifteen, and ten.

Then, in the fall of 1909, the trend toward a safer game abruptly reversed itself. In a match between Harvard and West Point, the Army captain, Eugene Byrne, exhausted by continual plays to his side of the line, was fatally injured. Earl Wilson of the Naval Academy was paralyzed and later died as a result of a flying tackle. And the University of Virginia's halfback Archer Christian died after a game against Georgetown, probably from a cerebral hemorrhage suffered in a plunge through the line. . "Does the public need any more proof," wrote the Washington Post, "that football is a brutal, savage, murderous sport? Is it necessary to kill many more promising young men before the game is revised or stopped altogether?" President David Starr Jordan of Stanford referred to football as "Rugby's American pervert..."

Early headgear, seldom worn consistently, shielded the ears and surface of the head but gave inadequate protection to the skull and brain. After World War I a sponge-rubber lining was added to the crown of the helmet, and by the late 1930s a sturdy leather helmet with an inner felt lining was being used. But it was not until 1943 that all players were required to wear headgear. The plastic helmet, which distributes shock more evenly, was introduced in the 1940s amid objections reminiscent of those that accompanied the original solely leather helmets. Some critics argued--and still do--that the hard plastic helmet, used as an offensive weapon, has as much potential for causing as for preventing serious injuries. Inventing Modern Football [americanheritage.com]

Re:hmm (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#33310366)

You've got a point, football helmets do a terrible job of protecting the brain. I'm not sure what the numbers are, but there hard and I doubt that they absorb much of the impact. There meant to go helmet to shoulder pads or really helmet to anything other than helmet, as otherwise there isn't enough cushion to absorb the energy involved. Which to be honest is considerable during special teams.

What happens to a football watcher's neurons? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33308880)

You know, between the blatant flamboyant homosexuality, the 6 seconds of running with 10 minutes of talking, the constant stopping and commercials, what happens to my neurons when watching this boring, hoakey pseudo-sport?

The real damage (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33308886)

[troll]
The vast majority of the damage caused by sports is actually found in the brains of those who mindlessly consume Natty Light (etc.) while sitting around the 80" television they bought at the local Rent N Pay.
[/troll]

whatever (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33308916)

Didn't rtfa or even tfs, but I've got your answer right here: Whatever.

Deception? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33308984)

I was expecting a study along these lines "Violent sports make you dumber."
I was not very disappointed.

Re:Deception? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33309570)

But how much dumber? It's undeniable that football largely does inflict significant head injury. But I'd say that NBA players are overwhelmingly more dumb than most NFL players, and basketball isn't violent. I think the stupidity we often see in professional sports isn't caused foremost by brain damage, but by a lack of education. At the other end of the scale, heavyweight boxing (as mentioned above) actually can turn a reasonably smart man into a drooling mess.

So.... (1)

zogger (617870) | more than 3 years ago | (#33309284)

So, this explains the US Cxx class and all their wonderful and logical decisions.

What happens to a football player's neurons??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33309486)

Doesn't this assume that they had neurons to begin with?

Coincidence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33309718)

What were the odds that a guy called Lou Gehrig would contract Lou Gehrig's Disease? The irony!

second concussion (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 3 years ago | (#33310030)

The description of axons returning to normal appearance but being in a fragile state internally could explain second concussion syndrome.

I know in baseball there is generally a growing recognition that a concussion calls for mandatory rest afterward. Research to determine how much rest is needed would be very useful, right now they have to guess and hope it's enough. A good diagnostic tool might be even better.

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