Deadspin Gets It Right on Chris Nowinski’s Tired Hype

‘9 Concussions This Year … 1 Medically Induced Coma … Junior Varsity Game Canceled Because There Aren’t Enough Healthy Players’
October 6, 2011
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Deadspin, which publishes plenty of sophomoric dreck, has a good one today by Barry Petchesky on the curiously unhelpful drumbeat of chronic traumatic encephelopathy press releases coming out of Boston. See “Why Sports Don’t Need Concussions To Destroy Players’ Brains,”

Now, as with a lot of “thinking person’s sports fans,” I think Petchesky is in denial on the end point of this discussion with respect to his beloved football. But I don’t want to brawl over that right now. Instead, I want to applaud the acuity of his bullshit detector in this passage:

… The frequency and quantity of new names doesn’t make it any less sad, but it does run the risk of losing potency.

Ever-media savvy ([Boston University’s] pointman is Chris Nowinski, accessible and charismatic former football player and professional wrestler), they sent out the release announcing Martin’s CTE yesterday afternoon at 3, embargoed until 9. This gave outlets plenty of time to report and write the story, and have it ready to go for prime time news and this morning’s papers. The hook, for a public numbed to new cases, is that Martin is the first hockey player diagnosed with CTE who wasn’t an enforcer.

I made a similar point in my May 23 piece, “Is There Now a Feeding Frenzy of Concussion-Related Sports Suicides?”, And today I reiterated that chronic traumatic encephelopathy case names, per se, were getting redundant — mind-numbingly so for the cause of public health. Nowinski, the Sports Legacy Institute, and BU’s Center for the Study of CTE are sloshing to nowhere in PR quicksand. They could use a message reboot.


Irv Muchnick

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Concussion Inc. - Author Irvin Muchnick