Month: November 2017

Football and CTE

This past weekend was Grey Cup weekend in Canada.  The Toronto Argonauts and the Calgary Stampeders met at TD Place Stadium in the Nation’s Capital.  The Argos won 27-24 in another classic.  In the lead up to the game, Canadian Football League Commissioner Randy Ambrosie declared that ‘we don’t know‘ if there is a connection between CTE and football.  Around this time last year, the former CFL Commissioner Jeffrey Orridge said the same thing and was roundly criticized.  Ambrosie is being suitably raked over the coals. But here’s the thing, Ambrosie should know better.  He is a former CFL player himself, he was a lineman for the Stampeders, Argonauts, and Edmonton Eskimos (why no one protests this name is beyond me).  Ironically, he retired due to injuries.  And he should know about the damage done to his own body by the game.  I am certainly aware of what football did to my body, between the cranky knees, shoulders, and, of course, the concussions (added to, of course, by hockey, where I played goalie). More to the point, it looks pretty damn likely that there is a connection between football and CTE.  This is just media one story from this past summer (out of many) that reports on a study that found that 88% of brains donated by now-deceased former football players had some form of CTE.  CTE was also...

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Reluctant Heroes

“Now goddess, child of Zeus, tell the old story for our modern times. Find the beginning.” That’s how the first stanza ends in Emily Wilson’s brilliant new translation of The Odyssey. It reads as if Walt Whitman wrote it, with the rhythms of our modern times, so it sounds contemporary—Odysseus comes alive. That first stanza begins by addressing another figure: “Tell me about a complicated man. Muse, tell me how he wandered and was lost When he had wrecked the holy town of Troy, and where he went, and who he met, the pain he suffered in the storms...

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Belonging on the Left: An Appreciation of Stanley Aronowitz (Part II)

This is the second part of an assessment and appreciation of the sociologist and cultural critic Stanley Aronowitz. In part one, Bruce Robbins reflected on Stanley Aronowitz’s influence, both as a scholar and as a political and public intellectual. *** Another option is laid out very clearly in Russell Jacoby’s 1987 book The Last Intellectuals. Jacoby describes Stanley as “himself almost a transitional figure, illustrating the passing of the older independent intelligentsia and the rise of the professors.” I pause briefly on this “almost,” partly in order to note that Jacoby characteristically does not himself pause to explain it....

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Fishermen of the Hudson

On any given morning, there is a trail of fish parts and entrails leading along the Liberty State Park boardwalk on the western bank of the Hudson river. The New York City skyline glows in the Golden Hour light like a picture postcard. A fish head here – its eyes gnawed out by the wheeling gulls – a fin or a tail there: the trail leads to a group of men waiting for the Atlantic tides to come in. They are the Fishermen of the Hudson. Frank has been fishing these waters for the last five years, as he...

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Belonging on the Left: An Appreciation of Stanley Aronowitz (Part I)

People who write about intellectuals in the United States have tended to express a certain melancholy admiration for the so-called “New York Intellectuals.” The New York Intellectuals were political, there was never any doubt of that; in the 1930s in particular, when they flourished, they were even extremely political. There has been a good deal of questioning of the political commitments of those who have come after them, and of course also about the NY intellectuals themselves in the later stages of their careers. But there was no doubt that they were intellectuals—which is to say intellectuals rather than...

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