Injuries Over Time

During the “Sport and the University” themed semester, I went to two events: a lecture by Dr. Jeff Kutcher on concussions in sports and the showing of Miracle, a film about the United States hockey team that beat the heavily favored Soviet Union in the 1980 Winter Olympics.

Dr. Jeff Kutcher

Dr. Kutcher is the director of the UM NeuroSport Program. He is an expert on concussions. He has worked for Michigan Athletics and Team USA in the Sochi Winter Olympics. As someone who has was concussed three times in high school athletics, I thought it would be very interesting to hear from a leading concussion expert.

In Dr. Kutcher’s lecture, he explained the various causes and symptoms of concussions. He also discussed the controversy of head injuries in professional sports, especially the NFL. Many football players and athletes in other contact sports experience repetitive head trauma. When players stop playing, many still experience concussion like symptoms or extreme depression. Many doctors think that this is Chronic Trauma Encephalopathy, or CTE.

Many believe that because of the violent nature of football, significant numbers of retired football players suffer from CTE. Many retired players have extreme depression, aggression, thoughts of suicide, and concussion like symptoms. Recently, many former NFL players who believe that they have CTE or other kinds brain damage have filed concussion lawsuits against the NFL, demanding money due to the league’s lack of attention to player safety and protection. Some retired players have committed suicide, and many assume that CTE has caused the deaths.

Junior Seau committed suicide just three years after his retirement.

However, Kutcher believes that most of these players may not have any sort of brain damage. He says that the symptoms in both concussions and CTE are very similar to normal depression. He has noticed that many players feel depressed after they retire, and think they have CTE. However, Kutcher has discovered that the majority of the cases, the players are depressed because they are not playing the game they love, not because of head trauma. He believes that only about 4 out of about 140 NFL players he has examined actually have brain damage or CTE.

Kutcher even says that a lot of the diagnosed concussions today are probably not concussions. He says that over the past 10 years, there has been a huge spike in diagnosed concussions. Recently, people have been much more cautious with these head injuries, and are wrongly diagnosed with a concussion.

This lecture made me think about how aware we are about sport injuries. We are so conscious of these injuries that we believe that there are more injuries than there actually are. This reminded me of a scene in Miracle, where Coach Herb Brooks gives a fiery speech to his team. One of his players, Rob McClanahan, suffered a leg injury during the game. The doctor said McClanahan could worsen if he kept playing, so McClanahan took his gear off expecting not to play. Brooks accused McClanahan of quitting because of a “bad bruise.” McClanahan kept playing, despite the doctor’s recommendation.

Clip From Miracle

I think this shows how different coaches and players handle injuries today. In the 1980s, coaches like Brooks pressure players to play with injuries. It was expected to play through the pain. If someone got injured on any of my basketball teams growing up, my coaches would rarely let the player to continue to play. Depending on the injury, a hurt player would need a doctor’s note to be cleared to play. Kutcher pointed out that we often diagnose athletes with serious injuries whey they are not even seriously hurt.

Shane Morris leaning against his teammate after taking a blow to the head.

Our increase in sensitivity towards injuries is an example of how many of our attitudes have changed and how we approach most things today. You could look at injuries like it is fortuna, as it is beyond anyone’s control and determines how one acts. One can act more passively, be very careful and not risk worsening the injury. Or you can be more aggressive, and play through it. Machiavelli said “All courses of action are risky, so prudence is not in avoiding danger (it’s impossible), but calculating risk and acting decisively. Make mistakes of ambition and not mistakes of sloth. Develop the strength to do bold things, not the strength to suffer.”

It seems today as if most people take the safer route when it comes to injuries. When there is a head injury, it is safer to just assume that it is a concussion and take more time to make sure one completely recovers. Are people too careful? Have we become too cautious? Should teams take more risks when it comes to injuries? When Coach Brooks encouraged McClanahan to play through the pain in Miracle, McClanahan’s play inspired the team to work harder, and they won a pivotal game in the Olympics. However, if a player has a serious injury, this attitude can be detrimental to the player’s career. Like what Machiavelli said, calculate the risk, and act decisively.

Kurt Russell playing Coach Brooks in “Miracle.”


Are E-sports Real Sports?

What defines a sport? Sports, when taken at face value, are physical activities that result in a winner and a loser. So are advanced videogames like StarCraft sports? StarCraft in particular has been compared to chess; the mental processes needed to play the games are incredible and the New Yorker article “The Rise of the Professional Cyber Athlete” described the game as “strategic and extremely difficult, requiring a mathematical cast of mind.” Although the game requires a certain amount of quick hand movements, the overall conception of the game and its players as a sport and athletes respectively is an incorrect classification. Without a certain measure of physical movement involved, videogames simply cannot be called sports.

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An Individualistic Thanksgiving

Pretty late to the game on this topic, but better late than never!!! For class, we read a section of John Stuart Mill’s, “On Liberty.”  In Chapter Five, he expresses his opinion that, “There is always need of persons not only to discover new truths, and point out when what were once truths are true no longer, but also to commence new practices, and set the example of more enlightened conduct, and better taste and sense in human life. This cannot well be gainsaid by anybody who does not believe that the world has already attained perfection in all its ways and practices.”  He means that we should not accept any thing to be set in stone and we should always be pushing for changes to improve ideas and society.  For Thanksgiving,  it can easily be assumed that 99% of people eat the exact same meal;  people go crazy over the turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, gravy, rolls, green bean casserole, pumpkin, and pecan pie.

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Why the term “Michigan Man” should continue

Brady Hoke - Former University of Michigan Football Head Coach

Brady Hoke – Former University of Michigan Football Head Coach

Tradition is one of the core principles the University of Michigan prides itself on. From apparel to the fight song, following in the footsteps of the ones who came before us is the norm here. And to be honest, there is a part of me that enjoys it. I do support the progression of this university academically as well as athletically, however, I believe that we can achieve this without completely altering the traditions and customs in which we carry.

Last week, Jim Hackett, the interim athletic director that replaced the recently resigned Dave Brandon, fired Brady Hoke, from his position. This was unfortunate, but probably the best decision given Coach Hoke’s track record since he arrived at the university. With that being said, Jim Hackett was quoted at one of the preceding interview sessions and said, “I want to get rid of the word Michigan Man.

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Around the World: How Gender Disparities Still Exist in Sports—Everywhere

The world of sports is a challenging place to navigate, and for women, this world can be downright ruthless. But depending on where in the world women are, the challenges posed in the world of sports can be very different. I attended two theme semester events: one was a documentary of how women are portrayed by the American media, and the other was a documentary about teenage girl boxers in Kabul trying to make it to the Olympics. The women in each respective documentary have drastically different relationships with sport: in the former, women and girls are encouraged to participate in sports from a very young age and practice and compete in safe, sterile environments. In the latter, girls are highly discouraged from competing, and their coach is often threatened with physical violence.

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Peaceful Turned Violent

In today’s world, protests have become one of the largest forms of fighting for a cause. Perhaps inspired buy the successes of protesters such as Ghandi and Martin Luther King Jr., both of whom preached peaceful civil disobedience, today’s activists often refer/revert to protesting as a way of not only acting towards what they believe in, but also gaining publicity and often times support for their cause.

Furthermore, Martin Luther King Jr. understood that protests unify people otherwise geographically separated. He explained this in his Letter From Birmingham Jail. By nature, protests bring together people with similar opinions and values. On a national scale, it often happens that a protest in one city gains support in others and the protest expands beyond the boundaries of city and state limits. It happens all the time! In 200_ the Occupy movement, which originated as a couple hundred people protesting income inequality on Wall Street, saw continued and feverish support in large cities across America ranging from Boston to Seattle. In fact, the state with the largest amount of Occupy movements was California- the state arguably the farthest from the origin (New York City). But what started as Occupy Wall Street, soon became a world-wide phenomenon, with protests in cities all across the world!

Martin Luther King Jr.

The Occupy protests were mostly successful in remaining passive and non-violent, like the American father of peaceful civil disobedience- Martin Luther King Jr.- would have wanted and been proud of. However, with Ferguson in the news, it’s hard to ignore the potential violence that protests can elicit. Protests turned riots like Ferguson call into question the very nature of protests, their values, and the validity of their cause. Does the violence violate the sanctity of the protests? Does the violence defeat or overshadow their purpose and their cause? Is this violence the undoing of peaceful protests in America that were made successful by Martin Luther King Jr.?

The simple answer: No.

To answer the questions, I believe you have to understand the nature of the violence. Why do peaceful protests turn violent? It happens because of fear. Protests are by definition large crowds full of people who believe in something so passionately that they are moved to act. In large crowds full of such emotion and tensions, it is easy for a spark of fear to erupt into a fire of violence. Little disturbances on the side of any party cause mass panic, and panic can often lead people to run to violence. If anything, our readiness as a nation to turn to protesting is something to be proud of. Martin Luther King Jr. would be proud that we are a nation which in the face of injustice unifies through peaceful protests rather than blindly turning to violence and revolution.


Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is known as one of the quintessential leaders of the civil rights movement. To fight against racism in America, King used a tactic known as civil disobedience. Civil disobedience is the act of disobeying or ignoring laws in order to expose something that is unfair or wrong in society and ultimately bring about reform. Dr. King is known for using disobedient tactics in order to demonstrate the horror of racism in America, and the Jim Crowe Laws.

Protests were told not to fight back against the violence, this way, people can see how inhumane society is. Men forcing dogs to attack other men, that's really civilized...

Protests were told not to fight back against the violence, this way, people can see how inhumane society is. Men forcing dogs to attack other men, that’s really civilized…

Dr. King used methods such as sit ins, marches, rallies, protests, and speeches in order to reveal the violence and injustices of racism in society. All King’s methods were non-violent protests. His philosophy was that by not fighting back against societies violence, he could show how inhumane racism was.

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Understanding Attendance Numbers

Upon committing to this amazing institution, I took my official visit and was taken to a University of Michigan Mens Basketball game. Since I have never been to a college basketball game, I did not know what I was in store for. I met up with the coaches, who took us to our seats—about 3 rows up from the floor. We were half an hour early, yet the atmosphere was already unreal. Almost everyone there was wearing a University of Michigan basketball shirt/jersey. Then, within the next fifteen minutes the whole stadium was packed full. The game started and the chants got louder and louder. It was surreal; the amount of people that showed support and sang the chants with everything they had. It was impossible to be drawn away from the game. There was no checking of twitter, Instagram, or any other social media sites. The atmosphere glued everyone to the game; it was as if we were the 6th man, helping them win the game. When the final whistle was blown, Michigan came out victorious. The final applause was baffling; I don’t think I was even able to say anything to my coach at that time and we were standing right next to each other. At this time, I knew I had picked the right college.

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Levels to the Game

Attending events Michigan football games made NCAA athletics seem like a fantasy. Here is a photo I took from the Big House I took earlier this year.

Attending events Michigan football games made NCAA athletics seem like a fantasy. Here is a photo I took from the Big House I took earlier this year.

Holding the Olympics aside, it is safe to say that the NCAA platform is the highest level of amateur athletics in the world. Since I was a little kid, I can remember watching events like “March Madness” and various “Bowl Games” in awe. The level seems almost equivalent to the pros, and the stage itself is very similar to the professional level; thousands of fans, televised games, media coverage, etc. The student-athletes seemed like celebrities. The atmosphere surrounding college sports seemed grand and surreal.

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