Tag Archives: CTE

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 5/4/2018: White Artists, Black Artists, Brain Damage And The Mad Midnight Pooper

Good Morning!

(On the way to lovely Annapolis, MD to present my Clarence Darrow legal ethics program, along with D.C. actor Paul Morella, the real star of the day and the best Clarence Darrow portrayer alive. Paul starred in my 2000 original one-man show about the iconic lawyer-rogue, and has been performing it for lawyer groups and bar associations ever since.)

Déjà vu!  I would write a full post about this, but you can essentially go to all the football head trauma essays, search and replace NFL with NHL, and you’ll pretty much have it. The New York Times reports on a 53 year old ex-pro hockey player whose brain yielded evidence of CTE, and evidence is mounting the the violent sport is doing damage to players similar to what the NFL denied for so long. Right now, the National Hockey League is denying it too:

To the N.H.L. and its commissioner, Gary Bettman, the diagnosis is likely to be the latest piece of evidence to dismiss or combat. Even as links build a chain bridging the sport to C.T.E., the degenerative brain disease associated with repetitive head trauma, and some of the game’s most revered names push the league to take a more open-minded approach, the N.H.L. has denied any connection between long-term brain damage and hits to the head.

The N.F.L. did the same, for many years, until the evidence became too overwhelming, the numbers too much to counter with plausible deniability. Facing a huge class-action lawsuit, the N.F.L. eventually admitted to the connection and agreed to a roughly $1 billion settlement with former players. (That has not kept the sides from continuing to fight over the payouts, amid accusations of fraud and intimidation.) The N.H.L., following the N.F.L.’s strategy of about a decade ago, still contests any role in the burgeoning science of C.T.E., in the courts of law and of public opinion.

What’s going on here? Violent pro sports are popular and profitable, so they will continue maiming players and devastating their families until the public finally refuses to have blood on its hands. It will take a while, and many lives will be destroyed, but in the end, football and hockey are going to have to be responsible, and also held responsible for the carnage their greed has caused.

2. Yeah, I’m being unfair and partisan when I accuse progressives of being hostile to free speech and diversity of views… A hip-hop and R&B radio station in Detroit has announced that it won’t play Kanye West’s music. The alleged justification was the rapper’s dumb remarks about slavery. On “TMZ Live,” West said,

“When you hear about slavery for 400 years. For 400 years? That sounds like a choice. Like, you were there for 400 years and it’s all of you all? You know, it’s like we’re mentally in prison. I like the word prison ’cause slavery goes too — too direct to the idea of blacks.”

That’s pretty stupid for sure, but hardly any more stupid than the kinds of things West has been saying his whole career as his fans cheered him on. He’s welcome to hijack a telethons to say, for example, that President Bush intentionally let blacks die after Katrina, but this goes too far. (Someone please explain to me exactly what he thought he was saying, if you have time.) Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 3/20/18: Life, Death, Fairness, Dissonance And Sanity

1 Let’s see more of such Ethics Heroes, please… In Upper St. Clair, Pennsylvania,  John Orsini, has gone to court to stop his ex-wife from allowing their son, 17-year-old Antonio, from playing high school football in his senior year. Antonio has already suffered at least three concussions. Antonio’s mother and John’s ex-wife, Janice, says that her son understands the risks, and that doctors have OK’d his continued play.

But he doesn’t understand the risks—apparently neither do those doctors—and he is considered a minor under the law because teenagers are prone to poor reasoning and impulsive decisions…especially when they have incipient brain damage.

CNN is eager to hear his position on gun control though. But I digress..

Says the CBS news story: “John contends that after these concussions and sub-concussive hits, medical research shows that Antonio would be in grave danger if he continues to play football.” He contends? There is no contention: that is fact.

“I’m trying to save his future. I’m trying to save his life,” he said of his son.

Janice and her attorney issued a statement, saying in part,

“The mother and her 17-year-old son have reasonably relied upon the input and opinions of his treating physicians and medical providers, and have considered the state mandated safety and concussion protocols followed by the school district, in deciding whether it was appropriate for him to continue to participate in football.”

John believes the court will side with him.  “If you have a significant indication that the child is being placed in harm’s way, and it’s brought to court to protect the child, it’s the court obligation to do so,” he says. I wouldn’t be so sure. This is football country, and football fanatics are in denial. They’ll get thousands of children’s brains injured before they are through.

“I’m hopeful that my son will just go on, get a good education and lead a healthy life. That’s all I want,” said John, whose other two sons no longer speak to him over this conflict.

Good luck.

Let’s hope Anthony is given then chance to grow smarter than his mother.

2. Let’s see, which Trump Derangement news media story should I post today? Every day, every single day, I have literally dozens of biased, vicious, stupid, unprofessional and blatantly partisan mainstream media news reports and pundit excesses to flag as unethical. Here, for example, is a New York Times columnists advocating for Rex Tillerson to betray all professional ethics, confidentiality, trust and responsibility by revealing everything he heard or saw as Secretary of State that could undermine Trump’s administration. It’s called, “Burn it down, Rex.”

Let me repeat: for journalists to set out to intentionally poison public opinion against the elected President of the United States by manipulation and hostile reporting is unethical and dangerous. This conduct has been the single largest ethics breach in the culture for more than a year, and one of the worst in U.S. history. In strenuously condemning journalism’s abdication of its duty to support democratic institutions and to remain objective and responsible, I am not defending Donald Trump. I am attempting to defend the Presidency itself.

Today I pick…this: Continue reading

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Comment Of The Day: “Ethics Quiz, Super Bowl Edition: Justin Timberlake’s Integrity”

John Billingsley elaborates on the import and implications of the troubling research results regarding the brain disease CTE and participants in contact sports, especially football.

Here is his Comment of the Day on the post, Ethics Quiz, Super Bowl Edition: Justin Timberlake’s Integrity:

I agree that with 99% of NFL players and 91% of college players showing CTE on autopsy there is no ethical justification for American football and we don’t need it. Do we actually need any contact sports? CTE has been demonstrated in participants in multiple other contact sports including basketball, boxing, ice hockey, rugby, soccer, wrestling, and baseball. Unfortunately, there is not as much information available about the rates of CTE in those sports. There was an autopsy study demonstrating CTE in the brains of 21 of 66 individuals who participated in different contact sports at various levels, but no CTE in the brains of 198 controls who had no history of participating in contact sports. A study looking at high school athletes who participated in various contact sports from 2005 to 2014 found that there were about 300,000 concussions annually. That study found that the sport with the highest rate of concussions adjusted for the rate of participation was girl’s soccer. A concussion does not mean CTE will develop but repeated head injury is the etiology of CTE. Continue reading

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Ethics Quiz, Super Bowl Edition: Justin Timberlake’s Integrity [UPDATED]

Justin Timberlake, who will headline the Super Bowl LII halftime show while I’m not watching, was asked at a news conference this week whether he would support his son Silas if he wanted to play in the NFL. said Thursday that he will not allow his 2-year-old son play football. Timberlake responded : “Uh, he will never play football. No, no.”

Let us assume, for the sake of the quiz, that the reason Timberlake will veto football for his son is that he does not want his offspring ending up with the IQ of his fellow Mickey Mouse Club cast member and one-time girlfriend, Britney Spears. So why, if the singer does not approve of what playing NFL football does to brains, is he participating in the biggest showcase of the most dangerous major professional sport?

Your Ethics Alarms Super Bowl Ethics Quiz is…

Is Timberlake a hypocrite to accept payment to promote the Super Bowl and participate in pro football’s biggest event, while stating that he would not permit his son to play football?

My answer: sure he is. This isn’t like the cases we have discussed in past posts where American performers have accepted huge amounts of cash to perform for dictators abroad. Those have been private events, and a performer does not endorse his audience. Timberlake, however, is actively participating in the promotion of football and the NFL, to to the nation, and particularly to children. The Super Bowl has always been equal measures of sport and hype, and the half-time shows are hype. If he believes football is dangerous, which it is, he should not accept a fee to make the sport attractive to kids, or help the NFL attract impressionable young viewers.

[Update and Correction: readers Arthur in Maine alerted Ethics Alarms that star performers in the Super Bowl halftime show are typically not paid, but do the show for publicity. This doesn’t change my answer at all.]

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Your Ethics Alarms Super Bowl Guilt Trip

You know that by watching the Super Bowl, you’re helping to kill and cripple young men, right?

Sure you do.

You and people like you watch the Super Bowl, maybe hold parties around it, allowing the NFL to make millions of dollars selling ads and merchandise off of the most watched sporting event of the year. And, of course, the popularity of the Super Bowl makes it the year’s #1 promotion for the billion dollar mega-industry that is the National Football League, and down the line, for billion dollar corrupt big time college football, and in places like Texas and other regions warped by the “Friday Night Lights” mentality, high school football, and further down the line, youth football, where kids a young as 8 begin getting the blows to the head that will help make them confused and dysfunctional in their fifties or earlier if they play long enough…and maybe even if the don’t.

Hey, these are great nachos! Is this a microbrew? Look at that funny ad!

The film above, “Concussion Protocol,” was released this month, and shows a compilation of every reported concussion this season. Directed by Josh Begley and produced by Laura Poitras,  it is believed to be a nearly complete compilation of the NFL’s reported 281 concussions this season, the most since 2012. The NFL, which is affirmatively evil, is spinning this as a good thing, pointing out that it means that players are self-reporting their head injuries more often.

Sure. That must be it. Bravo! Problem solved. DE-Fence!
Continue reading

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Unethical TV Ad Of The Month: Kellogg’s Rice Krispies Treats

I would call this ad “brain dead,” but that would, perhaps, be in bad taste.  Still, the wilful disregard by the NFL and its sponsors—and the public, of course—of the increasingly undeniable evidence that football kills brains is an ethics black hole.

Did Kellogg’s not read this (and similar reports)…?

From the New York Times:

Athletes who began playing tackle football before the age of 12 had more behavioral and cognitive problems later in life than those who started playing after they turned 12, a new study released on Tuesday showed. The findings, from a long-term study conducted by researchers at Boston University, are likely to add to the debate over when, or even if, children should be allowed to begin playing tackle football.

The results of the study by researchers at Boston University, published in the journal Nature’s Translational Psychiatry, was based on a sample of 214 former players, with an average age of 51. Of those, 43 played through high school, 103 played through college and the remaining 68 played in the N.F.L.

In phone interviews and online surveys, the researchers found that players in all three groups who participated in youth football before the age of 12 had a twofold “risk of problems with behavioral regulation, apathy and executive function” and a threefold risk of “clinically elevated depression scores.”

Oh, never mind, spoilsports!  This NFL play-off time! De-FENCE! De-FENCE! Let’s give support to those irresponsible parents who send their kids out to scramble their gray matter and get that CTE started! Let’s encourage those potential NFL dementia victims with a heart warming vignette about a Dad urging his young son to “Give it your best!’ prompting the lad to run roaring into combat, perhaps even to cripple someone else.

Is this Kellogg’s reasoning? Apparently so.

Brain dead. Also dead ethics alarms.

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The NFL Is Pretty Close To Evil. Do Their Fans Care? Sponsors? Hello?

I read an ESPN piece a couple of days ago—I lost the link—evaluating the factors that have led to the large (and expensive ) drop in the NFL’s television ratings.. It wasn’t just the gratuitous, half-baked protests during the National Anthem, the author explained. No, it was also injuries, too many mid-week games, too many bad games, viewers “cutting the cord” and leaving cable, and other factors.

Oddly, the fact that it is increasingly clear that the NFL makes its money by maiming and killing young men never made it onto  the list. Maybe that’s right; maybe football fans don’t care that the heroes they cheer today will be drooling, tortured, burdens on their families in their 50s and 60s, if not sooner. Hey, they get good money to have their brains pureed, right?

If this is true, then my headline is  incomplete. The NFL and its fans are pretty close to evil.

A recent scandal showed us just how cynical the league’s claims that it was addressing its concussion and CTE problems.

Tom Savage, the Houston Texans quarterback, took a violent  hit from Elvis Dumervil of the 49ers ia a December 10 game. Savage rolled onto his back and lifted up his hands, which could be seen trembling, as if he were being electrocuted, a textbook indication of a likely concussion. He went to the sidelines but re-entered the game for the next series. He then left the game again and has not played since.

Some protocols on concussions the NFL has! Remember, this occurred after the news about CTE, the crippling brain disease  afflicting 99% of football players p whose brains have been examined, has gotten progressively more frightening.  The NFL initially denied the problem, stonewalled, and now is apparently faking concern.

The NFL announced it will not discipline the Texans for their negligent handing of  Savage’s head injury. That’s odd, don’t you think, if this is something the league cares about? If a team will send a player back out onto the field after he shows those symptoms, what other players with less visible signs of concussions have been sent back out to get disabled? My guess is countless players, and in every game.

Hey, they get good money to have their brains pureed, right? Continue reading

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