That’s why, Cantu says, so many of the ex-players who have been given a diagnosis of C.T.E. were linemen: line play lends itself to lots of little hits. The HITS data suggest that, in an average football season, a lineman could get struck in the head a thousand times, which means that a ten-year N.F.L. veteran, when you bring in his college and high-school playing days, could well have been hit in the head eighteen thousand times: that’s thousands of jarring blows that shake the brain from front to back and side to side, stretching and weakening and tearing the connections among nerve cells, and making the brain increasingly vulnerable to long-term damage. People with C.T.E., Cantu says, “aren’t necessarily people with a high, recognized concussion history. But they are individuals who collided heads on every play—repetitively doing this, year after year, under levels that were tolerable for them to continue to play.”
After the tape session, Guskiewicz and one of his colleagues, Jason Mihalik, went outside to watch the U.N.C. football team practice, a short walk down the hill from their office. Only when you see football at close range is it possible to understand the dimensions of the brain-injury problem. The players were huge—much larger than you imagine them being. They moved at astonishing speeds for people of that size, and, long before you saw them, you heard them: the sound of one two-hundred-and-fifty-pound man colliding with another echoed around the practice facility. Mihalik and Guskiewicz walked over to a small building, just off to the side of the field. On the floor was a laptop inside a black storage crate. Next to the computer was an antenna that received the signals from the sensors inside the players’ helmets. Mihalik crouched down and began paging through the data. In one column, the HITS software listed the top hits of the practice up to that point, and every few moments the screen would refresh, reflecting the plays that had just been run on the field. Forty-five minutes into practice, the top eight head blows on the field measured 82 gs, 79 gs, 75 gs, 79 gs, 67 gs, 60 gs, 57 gs, and 53 gs. One player, a running back, had received both the 79 gs and the 60 gs, as well as another hit, measuring 27.9 gs. This wasn’t a full-contact practice. It was “shells.” The players wore only helmets and shoulder pads, and still there were mini car crashes happening all over the field.
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Recently the New England Revolution beat the Tampa Bay Mutiny in a game played during a horrid rainstorm. Nearly 5000 fans showed up, which shows that soccer is, indeed, popular in the United States. However, the story of the game was buried near the back of the newspaper's sports section, and there was certainly no television coverage. In fact, the biggest reason for soccer's failure as a mass appeal sport in the United States is that it doesn't conform easily to the demands of television. Basketball succeeds enormously in America because it regularly schedules what it calls "television time-outs" as well as the time-outs that the teams themselves call to re-group, not to mention half-times and, on the professional level, quarter breaks. Those time-outs in the action are ideally made for television commercials. And television coverage is the lifeblood of American sports. College basketball lives for a game scheduled on CBS or ESPN (highly recruited high school players are more likely to go to a team that regularly gets national television exposure), and we could even say that television coverage has dictated the pace and feel of American football. Anyone who has attended a live football game knows how commercial time-outs slow the game and sometimes, at its most exciting moments, disrupt the flow of events. There is no serious objection, however, because without television, football knows that it simply wouldn't remain in the homes and hearts of Americans. Also, without those advertising dollars, the teams couldn't afford the sky-high salaries of their high-priced superstars.
Their days of playing football would be the high point of their lives,because they neglected everything else, and their life would go down hill after high school.
The National Federation of State High School Associations has put new policies into effect to help reduce the number of concussions caused by football.
You will have to determine which causes or effects you're going to write about. For instance, if there are too many causes for you to deal with in the scope of your essay, you'll have to decide what are the main causes, the ones you have to treat, and then suggest to your reader that there are other, relatively minor, causes outside the scope of your essay. Even in an essay as extensive as Kutter's, there are surely things he could have said but chose not to. In an essay on the effects of El Niño, the price you pay for orange juice might not belong in an essay alongside the devastating effects of tornadoes and ice-storms and mudslides and people's fear of uncontrollable weather patterns.
The other major researcher looking at athletes and C.T.E. is the neuropathologist Bennet Omalu. He diagnosed the first known case of C.T.E. in an ex-N.F.L. player back in September of 2002, when he autopsied the former Pittsburgh Steelers center Mike Webster. He also found C.T.E. in the former Philadelphia Eagles defensive back Andre Waters, and in the former Steelers linemen Terry Long and Justin Strzelczyk, the latter of whom was killed when he drove the wrong way down a freeway and crashed his car, at ninety miles per hour, into a tank truck. Omalu has only once failed to find C.T.E. in a professional football player, and that was a twenty-four-year-old running back who had played in the N.F.L. for only two years.
When we think about football, we worry about the dangers posed by the heat and the fury of competition. Yet the HITS data suggest that practice—the routine part of the sport—can be as dangerous as the games themselves. We also tend to focus on the dramatic helmet-to-helmet hits that signal an aggressive and reckless style of play. Those kinds of hits can be policed. But what sidelined the U.N.C. player, the first time around, was an accidental and seemingly innocuous elbow, and none of the blows he suffered that day would have been flagged by a referee as illegal. Most important, though, is what Guskiewicz found when he reviewed all the data for the lineman on that first day in training camp. He didn’t just suffer those four big blows. He was hit in the head thirty-one times that day. What seems to have caused his concussion, in other words, was his cumulative exposure. And why was the second concussion—in the game at Utah—so much more serious than the first? It’s not because that hit to the side of the head was especially dramatic; it was that it came after the 76-g blow in warmup, which, in turn, followed the concussion in August, which was itself the consequence of the thirty prior hits that day, and the hits the day before that, and the day before that, and on and on, perhaps back to his high-school playing days.