The latest thinking on contact sports, concussions, and the risk to our youth.
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.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less
via US Secretary of Defense / Flickr and The Today Show

As the nation braces itself for the verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial, President Biden has embraced the family of George Floyd at what has to be an incredibly stressful time.

Following closing arguments in the Chauvin trial on Monday, Judge Peter Cahill has sent jurors to deliberate. The verdict is expected to come in the next few days.

"He was just calling," George's brother, Philonise Floyd, said about the president. "He knows how it is to lose a family member, and he knows the process of what we're going through. So he was just letting us know that he was praying for us, hoping that everything will come out to be OK."

Biden lost his wife and one-year-old daughter in a tragic car accident in 1972 and his son Beau to cancer in 2015.

Keep Reading Show less
True

2020 was difficult (to say the least). The year was full of life changes, losses, and lessons as we learned to navigate the "new normal." You may have questions about what the changes and challenges of 2020 mean for your taxes. That's where TurboTax Live comes in, making it easy to connect with real tax experts to help with your taxes – or even do them for you, start to finish.

Not only has TurboTax Live helped millions of people get their taxes done right, but this year they've also celebrated people who uplifted their communities during a difficult time by surprising them with "little lifts" to help out even more.

Here are a few of their stories:


Julz, hairdresser and salon owner

"As a hairdresser and salon owner, 2020 was extremely challenging," says Julz. "Being a hairdresser has historically been a recession-proof industry, but we've never faced global shut down due to health risk, or pandemic, not in my lifetime. And for the first time, hairdressers didn't have job security."

Julz had to shut down her salon and go on unemployment benefits for the first time. She also had to figure out how she was going to support herself, her staff and her business during this difficult time. But many other beauty industry professionals didn't have access to the resources they needed, so Julz decided to help.

"My business partner and I began teaching basic financial literacy to other beauty industry professionals," she says. "Transitioning our business from behind the chair to an online academy was a challenge we tackled head-on so that we could move hairdressers into this new space of education, and create a more accessible curriculum to better serve our industry.

Julz connected with a TurboTax Live expert who helped her understand how unemployment affected her taxes and gave her guidance on filing quarterly estimated taxes for her small business. "I was terrified to sit at a computer and tackle this mess of receipts," Julz says, so "it was great to have some virtual handholding to walk me through each question."

In addition to giving Julz the personalized tax advice she needed, TurboTax Live surprised her with a "little lift" that empowered her to help even more beauty professionals. "When my tax expert Diana surprised me with a little lift, I was moved to tears," says Julz. "With that little lift, I was able to establish a scholarship fund to help get other hairdressers the education they deserve."


Alana, new mom

Alana welcomed her first child in 2020. "I think my biggest challenge was figuring out how to be a mom, with no guidance," she says. "My original plan was to have my mom by my side, teaching me the ropes, but because of COVID, she wasn't able to come out here."

She was also without a job for most of 2020 and struggled to find something new.

So, Alana took it as a sign: she decided to launch her own business so she could support her new baby, and that's exactly what she did. She started a feel-good company that specializes in creating affirmation card decks — and she's currently in the process of starting a second, video-editing business.

TurboTax Live answered Alana's questions about her taxes and gave her some much-needed advice as she prepared to launch her businesses. Thanks to their "little lift," they provided her with a little emotional support too.

"I got my mom a plane ticket to finally [have her] meet [my daughter] for her first birthday," Alana says. "I was also able to get a new computer," which helped her invest in her new business and work on her video editing skills. "It's helped my family and me so much," she says.


Michael, science teacher

When schools shut down across the country last year, Michael had to learn how to adapt to a virtual classroom.

"As a teacher, I had to completely revamp everything," he says, so that he could keep his students engaged while teaching online. "At the beginning, it was a nightmare because I had no idea. I had to go from A-Z within a couple of weeks."

Michael's TurboTax Live expert answered his questions about how working from home affected his taxes and helped him uncover surprising tax deductions. To top it all off, his expert surprised him with brand new science equipment and supplies, which allowed him to create an entire line of classes on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook. "Now I can truly potentially reach millions of children with my lessons," he says. "I would never have taken that leap if not for the little lift from TurboTax Live."



Ricky, motivational youth speaker

As a motivational speaker, Ricky was used to doing his job in person, but, he says, "when COVID-19 hit, it altered my ability to travel and visit schools in person [because] schools moved to fully virtual or hybrid models."

He knew he had to pivot — so he began offering small virtual group workshops for student leadership groups at middle and high schools.

"This allowed me to work with student leaders to plan how they would continue making a positive impact on their school community," he says. He wasn't sure how being remote would affect his taxes, but TurboTax Live Self-Employed gave him the advice and answers that he needed to keep more money in his pocket at tax time — and the little lift he received from them has helped him serve even more students.

"[It] has been a major blessing," he says "There will be multiple schools and student groups from across the country that I can hold leadership workshops with to empower them with the tools to be inspirational leaders in their school, community, and world."

Plus, he says, it was great knowing he had an expert to help him figure out how being remote affected his taxes. "I felt confident and assured in the process of filing my taxes knowing I had an expert working with me, says Ricky. "There were things my expert knew that I would not have considered when filing on my own."

Filing your taxes doesn't have to be intimidating, especially after a year like 2020. TurboTax Live experts can give you the "little lift" you need to get your taxes done. File with the help of an expert or let an expert file for you! Go to TurboTax Live to get started.