+
True
UCLA

In 2015, a Sports Illustrated article profiled the deaths of 11 high school football players.

Five of the deaths were due to severe blows to the head. And as recently as November 2016, a 15-year-old Texas football player died after suffering a head injury while playing football.

"There are about 1.3 million high school and 2.8 million youth football players in this country. That's more than 4 million children and teenagers playing football," Ralph Nader and Kenneth Reed wrote in a Chicago Tribune op-ed. "Compare that number with the 1,700 or so adults playing football in the NFL. Yet, the nation's focus, when it comes to concussions, is on the NFL. That needs to be flipped."


Image via iStock.

Nader and Reed make an excellent point about spotlighting the safety issues surrounding millions of young athletes. And their concerns about head injuries are echoed by parents across the country. To better protect our children playing football, it's crucial to have a better understanding of concussions.

A roundtable discussion at UCLA shed some light on the current state of concussion research and how we can better educate people on the risks.

Roman Phifer, a 15-year NFL veteran and three-time Super Bowl champion, sat down with Adriana Galvan, a professor and director of the Developmental Neuroscience Laboratory at UCLA, and Dr. John DiFiori, chief of sports medicine at UCLA, for this informative talk.

Watch the full roundtable discussion right here:

One of the first things they discussed was what exactly a concussion is.

"Basically a direct or indirect blow to the head or neck that results in a sequence of symptoms and clinical findings that are characteristics of fogginess," explained DiFiori.

That definition is a long way from what Phifer experienced growing up. He recalled, "Back then, the protocol was, you know, you have a concussion ... tell me how many fingers you’re holding up or who’s the president or what the date was, then you’re good to go."

Dr. John DiFiori discusses the importance of being fully healed before returning to play. Screenshot via UCLA.

Considering football has the highest concussion rate among sports, it's important to understand how to address it. "Most concussions will resolve in about 10 days," said DiFiori. He added that this is true for almost 90% of cases.

This is especially significant since many kids return to play the same day that they get a concussion. One wrong hit could cause severe effects down the road or, even in some cases, lead to death.

Adriana Galvan gets insight into the sports angle of the issue. Screenshot via UCLA.

That's why Galvan stresses the importance of educating parents and young players on looking at things long term. "Adolescents are really primed to focus on the immediate, to focus on the reward, and that’s great in some contexts," she said. "But for them to really appreciate the potential dangers is important for them as well."

Some have called to eliminate youth football altogether, but this is a contentious idea.

Others are in favor of solutions that are less controversial and easier to implement. Limiting tackles in practice and getting rid of them completely for children below a certain age range could help reduce hits.

According to Practice Like Pros, 60% to 75% of head traumas occur during practice at the high school level. As a result, they suggest a time limit for full-contact practices and encourage players to report concussions right away. They also advocate for employing a full-time athletic trainer on every team, having an EMT on standby at every game, and supporting continuing scientific research. They'd even like to convert all youth leagues below ninth grade to flag football, a trend that has seen a meaningful rise.

Image via iStock.

Phifer stressed taking things a step further to make sure kids are playing properly. "You educate kids, you try to reduce the risk as much as possible," he said. "You tell them to keep [their] head up. You do all the other things that you can. You implement fines or penalties when kids are not doing it the right way."

What's key is taking action to make the sport as safe as possible.

Football is a meaningful sport for a lot of people, and Phifer talked about some of the game's positives beyond all the injuries. "The first thing that comes to mind is just being a part of something bigger than yourself," he said. "Having all these kids from different backgrounds, it doesn't matter about, you know, socioeconomic status. It doesn’t matter if you're rich or poor. We're all here together. Now you’re working for one common goal of trying to win and be successful and everyone's doing their part. So I think it really gives kids that development about teamwork and not being selfish."

Image via iStock.

Without question, there are countless Americans who love their football. But as the game continues to get bigger, we must also become better at taking care of players of all ages. By continuing to take action on that, it might be possible to accomplish what many athletes strive for in their careers — to change the game.

Joy

1991 blooper clip of Robin Williams and Elmo is a wholesome nugget of comedic genius

Robin Williams is still bringing smiles to faces after all these years.

Robin Williams and Elmo (Kevin Clash) bloopers.

The late Robin Williams could make picking out socks funny, so pairing him with the fuzzy red monster Elmo was bound to be pure wholesome gold. Honestly, how the puppeteer, Kevin Clash, didn’t completely break character and bust out laughing is a miracle. In this short outtake clip, you get to see Williams crack a few jokes in his signature style while Elmo tries desperately to keep it together.

Williams has been a household name since what seems like the beginning of time, and before his death in 2014, he would make frequent appearances on "Sesame Street." The late actor played so many roles that if you were ask 10 different people what their favorite was, you’d likely get 10 different answers. But for the kids who spent their childhoods watching PBS, they got to see him being silly with his favorite monsters and a giant yellow canary. At least I think Big Bird is a canary.

When he stopped by "Sesame Street" for the special “Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake” in 1991, he was there to show Elmo all of the wonderful things you could do with a stick. Williams turns the stick into a hockey stick and a baton before losing his composure and walking off camera. The entire time, Elmo looks enthralled … if puppets can look enthralled. He’s definitely paying attention before slumping over at the realization that Williams goofed a line. But the actor comes back to continue the scene before Elmo slinks down inside his box after getting Williams’ name wrong, which causes his human co-star to take his stick and leave.

The little blooper reel is so cute and pure that it makes you feel good for a few minutes. For an additional boost of serotonin, check out this other (perfectly executed) clip about conflict that Williams did with the two-headed monster. He certainly had a way of engaging his audience, so it makes sense that even after all of these years, he's still greatly missed.

Noe Hernandez and Maria Carrillo, the owners of Noel Barber Shop in Anaheim, California.

Jordyn Poulter was the youngest member of the U.S. women’s volleyball team, which took home the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics last year. She was named the best setter at the Tokyo games and has been a member of the team since 2018.

Unfortunately, according to a report from ABC 7 News, her gold medal was stolen from her car in a parking garage in Anaheim, California, on May 25.

It was taken along with her passport, which she kept in her glove compartment. While storing a gold medal in your car probably isn’t the best idea, she did it to keep it by her side while fulfilling the hectic schedule of an Olympian.

"We live this crazy life of living so many different places. So many of us play overseas, then go home, then come out here and train,” Poulter said, according to ABC 7. "So I keep the medal on me (to show) friends and family I haven't seen in a while, or just people in the community who want to see the medal. Everyone feels connected to it when they meet an Olympian, and it's such a cool thing to share with people."

Keep ReadingShow less

Hold on, Frankie! Mama's coming!

How do you explain motherhood in a nutshell? Thanks to Cait Oakley, who stopped a preying bald eagle from capturing her pet goose as she breastfed her daughter, we have it summed up in one gloriously hilarious TikTok.

The now viral video shows the family’s pet goose, Frankie, frantically squawking as it gets dragged off the porch by a bald eagle—likely another mom taking care of her own kiddos.

Wearing nothing but her husband’s boxers while holding on to her newborn, Willow, Oakley dashes out of the house and successfully comes to Frankie's rescue while yelling “hey, hey hey!”

The video’s caption revealed that the Oakleys had already lost three chickens due to hungry birds of prey, so nothing was going to stop “Mama bear” from protecting “sweet Frankie.” Not even a breastfeeding session.

Oakley told TODAY Parents, “It was just a split second reaction ...There was nowhere to put Willow down at that point.” Sometimes being a mom means feeding your child and saving your pet all at the same time.

As for how she feels about running around topless in her underwear on camera, Oakley declared, “I could have been naked and I’m like, ‘whatever, I’m feeding my baby.’”

Keep ReadingShow less