Mark Clark: Well he sure ruined my favorite sport

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Have you ever heard of a guy named Adam Conover? Well, you should and you would be just like me after hearing him talk – dejected.

Conover has a television show that spun off from a podcast he did as college humor called “Adam Ruins . . .” The dot, dot, dot is a fill in the blank for whatever Conover plans to ruin on that particular day. Mostly, Adam ruins everything possible. You name it and he has either already ruined it or will ruin it in the near future. I get depressed watching his shows about historical events. He tells the “true” history of an event and many times it is not pleasant to learn what really happened.

Recently, I watched a show he did called “Adam Ruins Football.” Now, for me, that is just taking things a little too far. In fact, any show he does about sports is taking it too far – even if he tells the truth. I do not want to hear some of the things he points out about football, but he does back up his statements with research.

For instance, Adam says the best team rarely makes it to the Super Bowl. And, that it is more likely for the worst team in the game to win. Only 16 percent of the teams with the best record in the league have ever made it to the big game. So, fewer than 16 percent of those teams have won – or so his source says. The source is USA Today which presents the evidence in a 2016 article.

Adam also says kids should not play football because of CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy). That is brain concussions. Adam says that in 16 former professional football players’ brains used in a study showed 96 percent suffered from CTE. His source is a Frontline program on PBS in 2015. The program also said 79 percent of all football players have CTE. And, the concussions are not all caused by violent hits that make the fans roar with approval. Most are from sub concussive events during regular tackles or from being bumped out of bounds. Most of these sub concussive events happen in offensive and defensive linemen who bump into each other on nearly every play. A Journal of Neurotrauma article in 2012 says with 80,000 college football players at the various levels of the sport about 80 percent of concussions go unreported.

What is the solution to this problem? Well, it is not better helmets as many people might think. When hit, the brain stretches, breaking its internal structure. Unless you can place a helmet inside your skull, there is no way to stop it. At least, that is what Adam says. His source for most information on CTE comes from Dr. Ann McKee, the facility’s director and chief of neuropathology at the VA Boston Healthcare System.

“People think that we’re blowing this out of proportion, that this is a very rare disease and that we’re sensationalizing it,” said Dr. McKee. “My response is that where I sit, this is a very real disease. We have had no problem identifying it in hundreds of players.”

Yet another portion of the program on football speaks of the myth of hydration for athletes. In a Medical News Today article in 2015, it says, “Keeping hydrated is important when exercising, but drinking too much can be hazardous – in some cases even resulting in death. A panel of experts has published new guidelines to avoid fatal over consumption of fluids, recommending that athletes only drink when they are thirsty.”

In a 2012 article in The Telegraph, a London newspaper, the writer cited that 12 athletes have been determined to have died from exercise-associated hyponatraemia (EAH). Sometimes called water intoxication, EAH is marked by a low blood sodium concentration and can cause the brain to swell, causing confusion, loss of consciousness and seizures. So, over hydration is just as dangerous as dehydration.

Gatorade and bottled water companies have spent many dollars advertising the importance of hydration on and off the field of play. One International Bottled Water Association calculator will calculate you need as much as much as two liters of water per day. In Runners World magazine, Gatorade ran an ad that looked like an article titled Hydration 101. It included tips like ‘Drink Early and Often,’ ‘Don’t wait until you feel thirsty’ and ‘Always Drink Sports Drinks.’” According to science – and Adam – the correct amount of water is the amount it takes to quiche your thirst. Overdoing the hydration thing can leave you like some runners in marathons who drink constantly through a race – weighing more at the end of the race than you weighed at the start.

I certainly hope I have not made you feel as badly as I did when I watched the “Adam Ruins Football” episode of his truTV program. I was really bummed out. Everyone knows how much I like football, but the problems Adam Conover informs us of make me ponder whether I am right or wrong about promoting a sport that is this dangerous. I guess if football survives in the future, there will have to be some big changes. Maybe no tackling will be one of those changes – just grab at a flag instead. Yes, in order for football to survive, we may just play the powder puff version of the sport – if we can still call it a sport. Dang you, Adam!

Mark Clark is a local sports writer for 

The Citizen of East Alabama.