And we have a book!

The work has been going on for nearly 2 years, but the finish line is here!

Our book, “Back in the Game: Why Concussion Doesn’t Have to End Your Athletic Career”, will be published late this summer by Oxford University Press. Dr. Jeff Kutcher, my co-author, and I are super excited to have done this labor of love for youth parents, coaches and athletes.

More info to come on the book, and where you can get it!
2016 book flyer

We need to talk…

I am doing a lot of speaking on concussions/sports/media these days, and had two things happen recently that were fascinating:

1) After a presentation at the University of Michigan’s Injury Center Concussion Summit, I was asked it we (meaning the U.S. Govt), should have a board of review in place for the media. This person, who was well meaning, thought the bad science should be stopped before it got out in the media. I answered him, wondering aloud if the First Amendment would get in the way of that strategy. He laughed, realizing he forgot about that silly thing, but then told me…I don’t believe in Free Speech. Whoa. Whoa.

Free speech is not a belief, it is a law. And a damned good one at that. Is it problematic…sure. But the good far outweighs the bad. So count me in on team free speech. Even it it lets yahoos say really ignorant stuff about concussions.

2) I next spoke, a few weeks later, at a high school journalism event where a student came up to me afterwards and said she wanted to write about her school’s protocols…because the administration stopped her. I was heartbroken.

She was trying to do a good thing, inform her audience at the school, and the reactionary fools at her schools stopped her cold. I was really sad for her…in essence, she was censored the way the first gentleman thought would be appropriate. I encouraged her to keep trying. The topic is too important not to discuss.

Science, journalism, the truth all operate the same way – they come out, they may be unpleasant, but they need to see the light of day.

Living in fear, from concussion – and even the discussions of concussions – is not a good world to live in.

Concussions are not black and white

One of the interesting things I have discovered, in the process of writing a book about concussions and youth sports, is that everybody has some type of opinion/conspiracy theory to share.

They fall along similar lines: Concussions are killing people – or they really don’t exist…just another media hype example. I am not yet meeting a lot of the in-between crowd, the concussions should be taken seriously, but not to the point of paralyzing fear.

It’s funny, because I cannot get a read – yet – on who is going to hit me with which theory. I used to think to think it was the moms who would be on #teamscary, while the dads would pick #teamdenial. I am really fascinated by both sides, because their positions can be equally radical – and equally wrong. But I love they share what they think, as it better informs me about what we need to discuss and illustrate.

I can’t wait to get the book out, so we can really start a good discussion with both sides. I am going to be really interested in that!

If you want more info on the book, go to ConcussionClarity.com.

Thanks!

Thoughts for the summer…

– If it ever stops raining, then I will declare, Happy Summer! 🙂 But seriously, it is great to be away from the classroom for a bit to work on other things. The concussion book is nearing the finish line, I have a slew of pieces coming out in other publications, and I am working on other projects. All good.
– Watch concussionclarity.com soon for a lot of new content coming there too, we are working on some resources for parents and media.
– Until then, get outside, eat some ice cream, and say hi to the fireflies!

Namaste.

Spring has sprung…at last…

Wanted to throw some stuff against the wall, scattershot style. Used to work with the legendary Joe Falls at the Detroit News, who would write about cookies, cats, the DH, and Babe Ruth in one column. I promise not to be that esoteric…Joe could do that, because after all, he was in the Baseball Hall of Fame. (God rest your soul, Uncle Joe…)

Anyways…

– South By Southwest 2015: Our “Does Sports Equal Brain Damage?” panel was a success, and glad to have had the amazing experience. It was an intense thing, as we did a Tweetchat, I did some media work, and then the main event, the panel. Learned a lot about how SXSW works (amazing planning, whoa! Like a 200-ring circus), and was amused by some of the PR/marketing stunting around the main tent. Glad we did it.IMG_0027_2

– I caught some grief for this from the non-kitty people on my trip – and you KNOW who you are – but meeting the completely magical Lil’ Bub was up there as a massive highlight. Bub, as her Dude (her cat dad Mike) says – is pure science and magic. So true. She had a meet and greet at an animal shelter in suburban Austin, and she was one of the sweetest, most content kitties ever. And so tiny! Bub did a lot of good for other animals, and I was happy to meet her and give her a kiss on her tiny, tiny head. Rock on Miss Bub. And much love and thanks to the Dude.Joanne and Bub

– Happy to say Michigan State’s Sports Journalism program is coming out of the incubator and into the real. I am continually humbled and amazed by the enthusiasm, talent, and inventiveness of the students who want to go into sports media. And yes, despite all the doom and gloom, I see a strong future for media – especially in sports. You have to be good, have a thick skin, and be willing to work your ass off to succeed. But isn’t that true of anything? You can’t succeed in neurology, baking cupcakes for a living, or being a writer unless you can hit the fastball with the best of them and commit to being the best. It doesn’t come easy, and that is what I think discourages some. They think it is easy, because it is sports. Well, they are learning the truth in my classes, and I hope, making themselves even more fantastic to kick ass in the real world.

So love to all, big world out there. Let’s all kick ass.

Namaste.

Long time no speak!

So can you tell I have been busy?! Too busy to blog? Yep, sorry. But between book writing, South by Southwest presenting, writing and teaching, life has been crazy, but crazy good.

Staying warm and busy…

IMG00264_3I always dream of summer when I see the Australian Open on TV. Sadly, my dream of warmth ends when I look out the window and see the deep freeze of Michigan’s winter. Oh well…3 more months and this ends!

Until the sun turns itself back on for real light and warmth, I will stay in the writing cave and keep working away.

Some good things to give thanks for…

– Thanks to the Medill School at Northwestern University for being kind enough to choose to profile me for their women in sports media series. Humbled to be included with some amazing women.

sxsw-interactive-logo– We are gearing up for South by Southwest! Are you coming to see our concussions and sports panel on March 13? Join us at #SXSWsports!

logo (1)– And come check out Concussionclarity.com…the new website that aims to discuss concussion and sport in a smart way.

A lot of good things. Will keep me warm until I see the tulips pop up!

mahalo.

Wondering…and hoping

spain5 014Spent New Year’s Eve at a lovely gathering (thanks Amy and Karl!), and chatting with somebody who has really made me think.

She had a philosophical point to dissect: is the world getting crazier, or are we being driven crazy because we know about something the instant it happens?

Yes, we are informed when there is a hostage crisis in Australia, a plane crash in Indonesia, or a horrible drive-by shooting that killed a teen near where I live, in near real-time.

But does knowing this information, taking in the terror and evil and random horror around us…is it good for us?

Being virtual flies on the wall comes at a price.

The common refrain from everybody is how busy they are, how stressed they feel, how they never seem to be able to turn off.

We went in a circle, talking about how as media people, we thrive for live events. But is the thriving good for us, or the world?

We need to know what is going on, yes, and being informed is important. But the need to be first, the CNN-esque “we don’t know anything but we are going to keep talking until we do” approach to live news is not good. And the need to be first, even if wrong, by throwing all kinds of crap against the wall (aka the Don Lemon effect), is also bad.

So are we, the media clinicians, doing more harm than good?

Do we care? Should we care?

All deep questions that I do not have the immediate, simple and clean answers for. But I am going to think about them during this year, especially when something happens. How do I approach it as a journalist? How do I approach it as a news consumer?

The truth always is set free

Been doing a lot of thinking about the Bill Cosby situation, because, like a lot of Gen Xers, I grew up watching his shows. Cliff Huxtable was everywhere in the 80s, and the thought of Bill Cosby – a veritable institution – allegedly being a serial sexual predator…makes me really sick.

The Washington Post expose, which had 13 reporters working on it, lays out the sick narrative in extraordinary fashion. The pattern is durable over decades: young, aspiring women who wanted to be actresses or singers, Cosby with a stash of pills, and then the women would be groggy or knocked out during the assault.

In talking with a friend, who is also horrified by this, the question comes up – why now? Why is this all happening now?

Simply put: I see that, we as a society, are now in a place to listen – and believe – these women and their horrifying stories. The same way we are now in a place to listen – and believe – what Jerry Sandusky did. The same way we are now in a place to listen – and believe – what happened in the Catholic Church. The same way we are now in the place to listen – and believe – what happened to elite swimmers at the hands of their star club coaches.

We are now in a place to hear these women leveling their accusations against Cosby. Sadly, because of the passage of time/statute of limitations, we may not be able to bring Cosby to legal justice. But maybe he will suffer the same fate as O.J. Simpson, in that the fall from fame, wealth, and public trust will be a more sinister application of justice than being a jailhouse celebrity.

I hate when our illusions of things we really want to believe are good get destroyed. But it is for the best, so we ultimately know what is real – and what is evil.