sports health

106 : The Big Scrum, How Teddy Roosevelt Saved Football, w/ John J. Miller

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John J. Miller is the director of the Dow Journalism Program at Hillsdale College and writes for National Review, the Wall Street Journal, and other publications.  He is also author of the book, The Big Scrum, How Teddy Roosevelt Saved Football, which is the focus of our conversation in episode 106.  I worked intimately with this book while writing papers at Rutgers & Georgetown.  Many of the arguments made both for and against football in it's infancy are still relevant today.

Many described last Monday night's football game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals as a brutal, violent and ugly game.  I thought it was appropriate to post my interview with John where we discuss how the sport of football was saved by the 26th president of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt after the death of 18 football players in 1905.  There was a similar reaction among university presidents and the American public.  Some people at the time even described the sport as "evil." What can we learn from the past? Find out by listening to our conversation in this episode.

Below are some topics of conversation from episode 106:

  • The emergence and evolution of football after the civil war.

  • Football's roots in rugby and soccer.

  • The public's reaction to 18 people dying due to injuries sustained on the football field in 1905.

  • Why historians will be talking about football's brutality and violence when looking back on our era.

  • How football's problem with violence and brutality, ultimately led to a safer and more exciting game.

  • Social and political movements like the progressive era fought to abolish football.

  • Where the idea for the introduction of the forward pass came from.

  • Why Roosevelt thought football was a positive social good that can turn boys into men.

  • Why John referenced Malcolm Galdwell's Dogfighting article.

  • Why there is no such thing as a risk free activity.

  • Roosevelt's Rough Riders.

  • John's reservations letting his kids play contact sports after writing the book.

  • The evolution of football equipment.

  • How long shaggy hair served as helmets before there were helmets.

  • John's prediction of football's future.

  • Why the benefits of sports often outweigh the risks.

where can you get your own copy of The Big Scrum?


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104 : The Role of Neck Strength In Concussion Prevention w/ Mike Jolly & Robert Sherman

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I have been researching anything and everything that has to do with concussions since suffering my own career-ending head injury ten years ago. That being said, most of the "new" breakthroughs seen on the news are usually old news for me.  I have heard of the association between neck strength and concussion risk though my research over the years.  And while myself and all of the other athletes who attended West Morris Central High School were blessed to have an amazing strength and conditioning coach, I don't recall ever doing neck strengthening exercises. Therefore, I had very little personal knowledge about neck strength and its role in concussion prevention until talking with Mike Jolly (pictured above) and Robert Sherman (right) from Iron Neck

The Iron Neck was invented by Mike Jolly in 2012 in response to seeing the impact of CTE on former UCLA Football teammates and the rise in concussions in young athletes. As a high school and college football coach, Mike began researching ways to prevent concussions and focused on two growing areas of research:

  1. Neck training as a proactive measure to reduce concussion risk.

  2. The increased threat of rotational forces on the brain.

Below is a video on how the Iron Neck is used and how it is innovating neck strengthening in the world of strength and conditioning:

There is no silver bullet when it comes to concussion prevention, but as Robert said in episode 104, "you're only as strong as your weakest link." Below are other topics we touch on in our conversation:

  • The inspiration behind the creation of the first Iron Neck.

  • The neck's role in dissipating forces to the head.

  • The anatomy of neck muscles and how to achieve maximum contraction.

  • Mike's concussion story.

  • Why Mike credits wrestling for staying healthy on the football field.

  • Why helmets aren’t the answer to preventing concussions, especially in sports other than football.

  • What Joey Batson, Head Strength and Conditioning coach at Clemson is doing to prevent concussions.

  • Why females should be prioritizing neck strength.

  • Evolution of neck strengthening (Below).

  • Why neck range of motion + flexibility are also important.

  • Motorsports crumple zone comparison.

  • How strength and conditioning coaches are using the Iron Neck to save time and space.

  • How the Iron Neck allows for transferability to the field and positional strength.

  • Why the biggest impacts come from the ones you don’t see coming.

  • Research on the Iron Neck:

    • In 2014, the Journal of Primary Prevention published a study that tracked 6700 high school athletes in boys' and girls' soccer, basketball, and lacrosse over a 2.5 year period. Researchers captured anthropometric measurements, concussion incidents and athletic exposure data and found "for every one pound increase in neck strength, odds of concussion decreased by 5%."

  • How Physical Therapists and Athletic Trainers are using the Iron Neck.

    • Vestibular and vision training, text neck, postural.








Download Episode 104 : iTunes | Stitcher | SoundCloud

98 : What Can Football Learn From Motorsport? w/ Pro Race Car Driver, Henrique Cisneros

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Henrique Cisneros is a professional race car driver, Chairman, Director & President of the Motorsport Safety Foundation, Co-owner and Director of MOMO Italy, a global automotive safety accessories company and Director at Cisneros Corporation.  In Episode 98, Henrique and I discussed health & safety in motorsport and how it's initiatives can translate to other sports like football.

The creation of the Motorsport Safety Foundation was inspired by the tragic loss of Henrique's co-driver, Sean Edwards while he was coaching racing students in Australia.  According to Henrique, most races governed by the FIA require the track to meet a set of minimum safety standards. In Sean's accident, the driver, traveling at high speed, crashed into a wall that was supposed to have several rows of tires to dissipate the impact.  This particular wall had an insufficient number of tire rows.  Ultimately, Henrique felt his friend's death could have been prevented.  Partly out of frustration for a lack of consistency for motorsport safety standards and as a way to his honor his friend, the Motorsport Safety Foundation was born. The mission of the Motorsport Safety Foundation is to improve safety in all forms of motorsport.  Although the mission may sound simple, Henrique enlightened me on how this is no easy task.

Pictured : Henrique (left), Sean Edwards (Right)

Pictured : Henrique (left), Sean Edwards (Right)

Below are some topics of discussion in this episode:

  • Why it takes an accident to make changes that improve safety.

  • Impact causes the most damage in motorsport, so how do you dissipate the impact most effectively?

  • The inherent risk of speed in motorsport.

  • Advances in motorsport safety equipment.

  • The importance of educating drivers on safety because ignorance can be bliss.

    • How even crashing at 40 miles an hour can kill you.

    • Sharing best practices.

  • Why the biggest enemy to safety is cost.

    • Safety is expensive, every new regulation means changes for teams, cars or tracks and they don't all necessarily make the car faster.

  • How Dale Earnhardt Sr.'s death pushed change and new technology in motorsport safety.

  • Motorsport Safety Foundation's Initiatives.

    • ICE

      • Emergency ID Stickers

    • Certified

      • In collaboration with leaders in the High Performance Driver Education community, the Motorsport Safety Foundation has created standards for the selection, training and certification of high performance driving instructors.

    • Race With Restraint

      • Race with Restraint is a program dedicated to making Frontal Head Restraints (FHR) easily accessible to anyone who goes on a race track. The Motorsport Safety Foundation offers drivers at all levels the chance to rent a HANS Device or Simpson Hybrid for a low fee.

        • Rental kiosk for restraints

          • Takes the money excuse away from drivers

  • Zero One helmet by VICIS – Henrique applauds the company for thinking outside the box.

    • What is the price on your life?

  • SG Helmets - Football helmets inspired by motorsport technology.

    • Using Carbon Kevlar

    • Weight is the enemy in collisions

  • How the evolution of motorsport and sports like football are similar.

"The safer the track and equipment, the better the racing"

  • Concussions in motorsport and the lack of return to drive protocols.

  • Spectator safety

    • Why danger = Fun

  • How the younger generation of racers are seeing things differently when it comes to safety.

    • Culture of masculinity is less prevalent.

    • The younger generation isn't afraid to speak their truth.

  • Why making decisions on ego or masculinity never consider safety

    • Ego over intuition

      • Another one of the HighFives Foundation's critical mistakes

  • Story of a personal crash Henrique was in and why the he was lucky the track safety parameters were up to par.

  • What can other sports learn from motorsports?

    • The use of sensors.

    • How sensors can lead to information people don’t want to know...

  • Why MOMO never skimps on safety.

  • Why consistency is key when is comes to building a culture of safety.

    • Brief and debrief safety before and after each event.

  • Henrique's hobbies outside of motorsport, kite surfing, motorized paragliding. See his video below!

WHERE CAN YOU LEARN MORE ABOUT Cisneros Corp automotive group?

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Download Episode 98 : iTunes | Stitcher | SoundCloud