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Sports Agenda for Thursday (1/10/13)

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Miami Heat v Indiana Pacers
UM

Big Story:
With local sports having the night off, I thought I’d address two topics that are making news across the sports world Thursday morning, concussions and football; and separately, the steroids-era in sports. Plus, we’ll update the Heat’s situation as they continue their road trip.

Quote of the Day:
“Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.” – James Madison

Concussions/Football/Suicide:
This is a little tough to write about, as I’ll explain, but something that has to be addressed somehow.
Results were released Thursday from an examination of the brain tissue of former All-Pro NFL linebacker Junior Seau.
You may remember Seau as one of the NFL’s all-time greats. He played a little while for the Dolphins. Last year, he committed suicide due to depression and a host of other factors dealing with chronic brain injuries.
Seau’s brain was consistent with chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE. The disease is caused, at least partially, by repeated blows to the head.
Seau’s suicide was the latest in a string of former football players either killing themselves or dying from degenerative brain diseases.
I’ve talked in the past about suffering from depression, but I think part of the reason my depression came about and worsened at times was the multiple concussions I’ve suffered over the years.
I can tell you for a fact that depression gets worse after each one and it’s enough to scare you to death when you hear about cases like Seau’s.
The sad fact is, players like Seau and even people like me have hard time talking about the depression for fear others will see us as weak, or not in control, etc, etc.
Depression and mental health issues still carry a terrible stigma in most people’s minds.
That makes getting to the bottom of how concussions, CTE, and depression are interrelated that much more difficult.
The National Football League isn’t helping matters, nor is the NCAA.
The NFL said it’s teams have contributed $30 million to the National Institute of Health’s studies on the issue. Considering the NFL is a $10 billion a year business, that’s pocket change for them.
But at least the NFL is trying to change the practice habits by limiting hitting in practice.
The same can’t be said for the NCAA which has not even addressed the problem of hitting too much in practice.
They need to remember that the power of some of these collisions on the field is the equivalent of a car accident.
The brain simply wasn’t made to withstand that kind of constant punishment, especially as the players get bigger and bigger each year.
So what can the NFL do?
Honestly, outside of helping out former players with health insurance and contributing more to the research, I’m not sure.
One thing former players can do is to talk publicly about problems they’ve suffered from due to their numerous concussions.
Depression, forgetfulness, mood swings, insomnia, forgetfulness, etc.
It would help those currently in the game and those considering playing the game to deal with what lies ahead for them.
Look, football is violent and there’s no way to fix that. What can be fixed is better tackling, avoiding the head for big hits, and so forth.
It’s sad that something like Seau’s suicide has to happen to get people to pay attention to the plight of those suffering through mental illness, but hopefully more people will start paying attention to help others deal with a problem that for many is unsolvable.

Baseball Hall of Fame:
So yesterday the Baseball Hall of Fame saw its writers elect no one to the Hall.
While we could argue the merits of a few of the players, including Craig Biggio, Jack Morris, and others like Tim Raines…
There really is no argument for the guys like Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens.
Neither belong in the Hall of Fame. Period. End of Story.
Look, it doesn’t take a trained doctor to see what happened to Bonds in the later years of his career. He started juicing hardcore.
While it’s true that steroids can’t help with hand-eye coordination, they can certainly help when bat meets ball and it goes flying into the upper deck.
Bonds has been convicted of obstruction of justice in steroids cases and looking at him before and after will tell you all you need to know about him.
I mean, the man’s hat size grew a large amount while he was shooting up with everything this side of what you would give a horse.
Clemens…I mean Clemens has all but admitted it over the years.
See, the difficulty with both players is that both had record-setting careers.
But the question is, could they have reached those records without the roids.
I would say no to both of them, especially Bonds.
Look, I know there are some scumbags in the Hall of Fame…see Cobb, Ty.
That’s not a valid excuse to put people like Bonds and Clemens into the Hall.
The funny part is, had Bonds not juiced, he would have been a sure-fire hall of famer because he was a great player back in the day.
But look, how can you possibly have a Hall of Fame with Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens in it but not have Marvin Miller in it?
And if what they did to subvert the rules and cheat isn’t enough to disqualify them from the Hall…then we must also let in “Shoeless” Joe Jackson and Pete Rose.

Miami Heat: (@Portland, 10:30 p.m.)
The Heat hit the road again tonight looking to right the road woes of this season.
Miami is 7-7 on the season on the road and now head to the Pacific Northwest to take on the Trailblazers.
Miami signed Jarvis Varnado, and also re-signed Josh Harrellson to a 10-day contract.
That doesn’t say a lot about Chris Anderson’s abilities from his tryout.
Look, the Heat need to start throwing their bodies around down on the blocks.
I think it may be time to move Haslem at the trade deadline if possible too.
He’s not contributing much for the Heat and perhaps a change of scenery would help him.
The Heat have two problems right now:
1. Rebounding
2. Perimeter defense when Ray Allen is on the court
Once they solve those two issues, things will start coming back into form in a hurry.
Until then, it’s going to be a wild ride each night with the Heat.
All I can say is, thank God the Heat have LeBron.

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