Thursday, July 21, 2011

This is your brain on sports

American Football star Dave Duerson left his body to science before committing suicide. Scientists at the NRL Brain Bank have since dissected his brain:
The dissection reveals three huge holes in the brain – one large triangle right in the centre of the brain, and two ovals parallel to each other at the base. It is apparent that McKee, who has studied more athletes' brains than probably any other person, is shocked by what she sees.

"This is an extreme case," she says, "but it is also very characteristic." She points to the triangular hole, consisting of the lateral ventricles, and says it clearly shows "tremendous disruption". There should be a membrane separating the two ventricles, but it has been so battered by the footballer's repeated blows to the head that only the thinnest of filaments is left. The two oval holes are the ventricles of the temporal lobe and they too are extremely enlarged to compensate for tissue lost from the lobes themselves, another classic sign of having your head bashed repeatedly. "The temporal lobes are crucial to memory and learning and you can see they are very, very small, as miniaturised as possible."
Here's the US Public Broadcasting Service's take on it:

Unlike American Football, NZ Rugby thinks armour and helmets is for wusses. One can only imagine the brain trauma that the Heineken Mastercard Rugby World Cup will cause, not only on the punters but the players as well.

As for our precious children, we inflict rugby on them as part of the national religion. I'd guess that rugby causes more social and personal harm to our people than any of those dangerous illegal drugs like cannabis the police are so keen on locking people up for. I challenge former cop and MethCon salesman, current Nat candidate for Northland and father to a young man paralysed in a rugby game Mike Sabin to disagree.

But, as Professor David Nutt found out in the UK when he proved that Ecstacy was less dangerous than horse riding, logic counts for nothing in the puritanical rugby worshipping hypocrisy of political theatre that is New Zealand. There's also the possibility that all those former rugbyheads on National's candidate list are too brain damaged to think straight.