Friday, October 16, 2009

Gladwell on Football, Concussions, and Dementia

In an alarming article in The New Yorker, Malcolm Gladwell asks how different are dogfighting and football? An excerpt:

“The first concussion was during preseason. The team was doing two-a-days,” he said, referring to the habit of practicing in both the morning and the evening in the preseason. “It was August 9th, 9:55 A.M. He has an 80-g hit to the front of his head. About ten minutes later, he has a 98-g acceleration to the front of his head.” To put those numbers in perspective, Guskiewicz explained, if you drove your car into a wall at twenty-five miles per hour and you weren’t wearing your seat belt, the force of your head hitting the windshield would be around 100 gs: in effect, the player had two car accidents that morning. He survived both without incident. “In the evening session, he experiences this 64-g hit to the same spot, the front of the head. Still not reporting anything. And then this happens.” On his laptop, Guskiewicz ran the video from the practice session. It was a simple drill: the lineman squaring off against an offensive player who wore the number 76. The other player ran toward the lineman and brushed past him, while delivering a glancing blow to the defender’s helmet. “Seventy-six does a little quick elbow. It’s 63 gs, the lowest of the four, but he sustains a concussion.”

1 comment:

John said...

I read this last week and have told my kids I don't want any of the grandchildren encouraged to get involved with football.

Gladwell is very compelling, but he is to pop culture what Liberace and Elvis were to pop music. For him (and them) sequins and flashing lights are more important than content. But in an era when flying helium balloons compete with health care reform for air time, maybe that's what it takes.