Tidbits

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The start of the semester turns out to be a challenging time to blog, but I am doing my best. Below are a few links to worthwhile articles related to issues I have written about recently.

1) Rick Reilly on compensating college athletes for autographs and memorabilia:

Why is America sweating Johnny Manziel? I know two superstar collegians who took way more cash for autographs in school. Millions, in fact. They got paid for slapping their names on clothes, movies, even toothbrushes. They made huge money for appearances, speeches and photo sessions while in college. And the NCAA never even harrumphed at them.

Their names?

Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. The Olsen twins.

Just like Manziel, they were talented and famous. Just like Manziel, they went to college. Unlike Manziel, they were allowed to participate in the free-market system. They had three lines of clothing, makeup deals and even did a movie, “New York Minute,” while attending New York University.

See, the NCAA has very clear rules: Everybody and their gastroenterologists can make money off Johnny Manziel except Manziel himself. The pursuit of wealth is available to every person enrolled at Texas A&M except student-athletes. The whiz pianist, the science prodigy, even the hopeful sportswriter. When I was at the University of Colorado, I worked 40 hours a week at the town newspaper, writing. Nobody threatened to throw me out of school.

2) Thanks to Joe Ovious, co-host of the afternoon show on the Triangle’s 99 The Fan, for pointing out this 2009 article in GQ on Dr. Bennet Omalu, at the forefront of research into CTE and the NFL’s long-time foot-dragging/obstruction of concussion research. Earlier this year, Malcolm Gladwell spoke at Penn on concussions, putting in historical context frequent initial resistance to/denial of claims about the deleterious health effects of long-standing practices, from coal mining to cigarette smoking to playing football, the focus of his speech. Gladwell argues that we know enough about the serious health risks to ban the sport in high schools and college, though not the NFL (where, presumably, highly paid adults can make their own decisions about whether they want to take on the risks). But he’s adamant that the foot-dragging about football’s effect on the health of those who play it is no more justifiable than the half century of denial that the coal mining industry engaged in after coal mining’s effect on workers’ lungs became clear.

3) Here’s some of Joe Sheehan’s more extended thoughts on the effects of PED use. As I said the other night in my update, even if the baseline effect is not as great as is generally assumed, it still would make sense that some would benefit from using certain kinds of drugs much more than others. And if one looks at Sammy Sosa from 1998 to 2002, or Bonds from 2001 to 2004, or McGwire from 1995 to 1999 – it’s going to be tough to convince most people that they did not receive an enormous boost from something. I am sometimes too eager to buy analysis by PED-skeptics. That’s my bias. But I think Sheehan is very smart, tends to be better historically grounded in his approach than most and is worth reading.

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