Super Sunday

rachel nichols

Some of the media absurdity, and social media fun, in the run up to the Super Bowl

Why is Marshawn Lynch not talking?

Will #DeflateGate show up in the next edition of Webster’s dictionary?

Might Richard Sherman be in a hospital labor and delivery room rather than the stadium on Super Bowl Sunday?

The two week period between the NFL conference championships and the Super Bowl is at last, blessedly, over and it’s time for the real deal, the big kahuna, the game itself:  #PatriotsVsSeahawks.

There is so much room to fill in this fortnight that the media gets a little loopy, and many of the questions being asked with bated breath are, as the above sampling would indicate, fairly ridiculous.

One redeeming dimension to this tempest is that some clever folk get the opportunity to emphasize the absurdity of it all: I especially enjoyed the Jimmy Kimmel spoof of the DeflateGate controversy, “I am the locker room guy,” for which I owe Rachel Nichols a big thank you:  her tweet first made me aware of this hilarious video.

There has been the opportunity, as well, for what I think are intelligent analyses of the current state of the NFL, and of American football itself.  Mother Jones–a magazine not typically paired with, say, Sports Illustrated–recently ran an article entitled “The NFL’s Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Year” and which began with a statement which sounds like the NFL apocalypse is nigh:  “From domestic violence and concussions to racist team names and angry cheerleaders, 2014 was a rotten year for pro football.”  Katy Perry–the singer who will perform at halftime this Sunday and the person with the largest twitter following on the planet–made what I think was a particularly concise evaluation of the multiple domestic violence issues occurring this season:  “It wasn’t an image problem–it was a problem.”

Many of the articles I’ve been reading in various periodicals have direct relevance to those of us in the universe of sports medicine.  The New York Times has done a great job in the past several days profiling the increasing awareness of injury risks associated with football; examples include an article on NFL outreach to mothers to assure them of football’s relative safety (and ensure for the league a pipeline of young talent coming their way) and an article profiling the recent study in Neurology purporting to demonstrate the long-term cognitive effects of initiating contact before the age of 12.

The Guardian even stepped into the fray with a very interesting piece on the potential for a measles outbreak in Arizona:  the massing of large populations; the recent outbreak of the disease in nearby California; and the relative lack of herd immunity (thanks to historically low rates of vaccination), contribute to a ‘perfect storm’ of contagion. The most deadly of childhood febrile exanthems–according to the CDC–may make for a post-Super Bowl hangover that won’t go away.

Like many of us who go into sports medicine, though, I do love sports, warts and all.  I am looking forward to a good game between New England and Seattle…..and a respite from the silly stories.

I am looking forward, too, to the research that will eventually come out of the NFL Player’s Association $100 million dollar grant to Harvard looking at player safety.  That’s a 10 year project, and so much of what will be found is still years away.  I am confident, as the evidence comes in, that some of the manuscripts to be published will be found in the pages of CJSM.  I am eager to discuss that research with you along the way.  Super Bowl L (actually Super Bowl 50–the NFL is dispensing with the Roman numerals for a year) will surely have more medically relevant stories seen in a new, evidence-based context…..and, of course, more inanity.

For now:  good luck to both teams.  May the players stay safe on Super Bowl Sunday. And….one last question:

Will Marshawn Lynch grab his crotch in celebration?

See you all next week.

About sportingjim
I work at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio USA, where I am a specialist in pediatric sports medicine. My academic appointment as an Associate Professor of Pediatrics is through Ohio State University. I am a public health advocate for kids' health and safety. I am also the Deputy Editor for the Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine.

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