Pharyngula

Dear Drew Brees,
As your fantasy football owner and a concerned fan, I respectfully request that you stop sucking. Your very manhood may depend on it. According to evolutionary psychologist David M, Buss, it is a well-documented phenomenon that testosterone levels in males fluctuate with the outcome of sporting events. Winners experience a boost of testosterone and mood while losers of athletic competition experience a decrease of testosterone. No wonder you feel like this:
i-0e6c9f1333a3fc84b23fd0376b5ed260-PH2007092502456.jpg

So you’re now 0-3, you threw about four too many interceptions Monday night, and let’s be honest. That fumble in the fourth quarter? You just dropped it didn’t you. It looks like you’ve had a lot of testosterone-dropping moments this season, and I have to warn you: If you continue on this painful trajectory, you could wake up one morning to find you’ve developed female secondary characteristics. You’ll never be able to enter a locker room again! Ok… I’m kidding about the breasts, but if you won’t step it up for you, do it for your fans. Studies show that male sports fans experience similar drops in testosterone after their team suffers a loss. Hasn’t New Orleans suffered enough loss in Hurricane Katrina? It’s time to play some really football.

Sincerely,
A Friend.

Comments

  1. #1 Brian English
    September 26, 2007

    I don’t think it’ll be a problem. Aren’t all american athletes juiced up on ‘roids? (ducks and hides for impending diatribes).

  2. #2 AlanWCan
    September 26, 2007

    I find it hard to believe that people who can read give a damn about a bunch of guys in tights running around with a big bauble. I guess this is a slow day in neurobiology class…?

  3. #3 Natasha
    September 26, 2007

    That was the best written student entry on neurobiology! Good work!

  4. #4 Ben D
    September 26, 2007

    Funnily enough Alan, it is possible to have both a healthy interest in science and sport. And if you don’t have an interest in both, it is also possible to refrain from prejudiced comments against people who do. Although is American football really a sport? Anything where you have to wear so much padding can’t count surely – play something proper, like rugby!

    Also, does this mean if I become a very fickle supporter and always swap support to whichever team is winning, I’ll turn into a macho manly man?

  5. #5 Martin
    September 26, 2007

    Don’t see the appeal of American Football. It’s just rugby neutered by health and safety. With all the players just drones that don’t need to think about what they are doing and merely need to be able to follow the orders of the coach who gets to brief them every couple of minutes on what they should do next.

    (Clambers into flame proof suit)

  6. #6 Martin Christensen
    September 26, 2007

    I’m with Ben D: in a true gentlemens’ sport, one must be prepared to lose a few teeth and break a few bones every once in a while. The Yankee girlies probably even use ball bunkers. 🙂

    Martin

  7. #7 Wiggy
    September 26, 2007

    I too have unfortunately had to bann Drew Brees from my fantasy starting lineup. I know just how the writer feels. How unusual, though, to see the news of his dramatic fall from grace make it as far as the pages of Pharyngula!

    I would definitely like to see more about how the psychological effects of victory can have physical effects on the body. I believe male orangutans undergo quite spectacular physical changes upon achieving alpha status. Is this tendency present in other primate species? If so to what degree?

    I seem to remember all the members of the high school rugby team shaving and exhibiting other testosterone induced traits before me. Is there something to that or is it just that stronger kids are more compelled to play rugby and have an advantage in making the team?

  8. #8 Barn Owl
    September 26, 2007

    Perhaps a more appropriate NFL-related topic for neurobiology class would be the spinal cord injury sustained by Bills’ tight end Kevin Everett, while playing that neutered rugby unsport. One straightforward question for neuroanatomical discussion might be why Everett, after injury at the C3/C4 level, was initially paralyzed from the neck down, yet retained touch sensation over much of his body.

  9. #9 bernarda
    September 26, 2007

    Per the rugby comments above. Rugby players are on the field for eighty minutes, playing both offense and defense, unless substituted for. Let’s see an American football player do that. Being pumped up on steroids is not something is going to help in this case.

    http://www.rugbyworldcup.com/

    For more information and explanation of rugby “Why, oui je parle rugby(yes I speak rugby).

    http://www.diplomatie.gouv.fr/en/france_159/events_5487/rugby-world-cup-in-france-september-7-october-20-2007_5488/oui-je-parle-rugby_5683/why-oui-je-parle-rugby-yes-i-speak-rugby_9366.html

    Long link, so if it doesn’t work, just do a quick search.

  10. #10 Fernando Magyar
    September 26, 2007

    American football and Rugby??!! You guys call that sport?
    The only *TRUE* sport is Soccer. Try head balling a soccer ball into the net, sans helmet, you wusses.

  11. #11 AlanWCan
    September 26, 2007

    Not prejudiced Ben D, just that my eyes glaze over after about 5 min watching a bunch of monkeys with a ball. Sorry. I’m with Barn Owl though – that injury and ongoing recovery are interesting. The power of prednisolone administered quickly, hypothermia, and rapid surgical intervention. Christopher Reave would have approved.

  12. #12 Jon Eccles
    September 26, 2007

    A quick explanation for British people who don’t get American football. Being British myself, I’ve only been following it since they started televising it in about 1990 or so. We got the New Orleans game, though, and Katie is quite right about Brees sucking.

    When the offence is on top, you get to watch ordinarily large men running round incredibly large men, jumping and catching and generally being gymnastic.

    When the defence is on top, you get to watch incredibly large men charging into ordinarily large men at an implausible speed for their size, and crushing them into the ground.

    The whole thing lasting for longer than most operas. What’s not to like?

  13. #13 Stephen
    September 26, 2007

    Hmm, this has brought the Brits out in force hasn’t it?

    Personally, as a Brit and a rugby fan, I think American football is the better sport. Immensely physical but also FAR more tactical (dare I say cerebral) than any other team game I know.

    Take the time to learn a bit about it before you dismiss it as a neutered form of rugby played by drones. That would be like saying rugby is a game for dull-witted toffs, traipsing around after a ball being kicked pointlessly backwards and forwards. Oh.

  14. #14 sailor
    September 26, 2007

    Katie, excellent little post on testosterone. We need more scientists who can write and make things interesting.
    “Studies show that male sports fans experience similar drops in testosterone after their team suffers a loss.”
    Now what happens to female fans?

  15. #15 Randy
    September 26, 2007

    It’s probably because he doesn’t point up into the sky enough like all the great players do.

  16. #16 Ben D
    September 26, 2007

    In the spirit of research, I’ve been looking into some stats, and I can authoritatively state that rugby union, with a concussion incidence of 50% per season, is a better sport than American football, with a concussion incidence of 42% a season. Because we all know that head injuries are the true judge of a sport’s worth. Right?

  17. #17 DaveX
    September 26, 2007

    The only TRUE sport is spearing chipmunks in a barrel. Oh sure, it’s as violent and pointless as other sports, but on the up-side, it has yet to be corrupted by the needs of big media. Also, everyone can be a winner!

    Well, except the chipmunk, natch…

  18. #18 lori
    September 26, 2007

    “If you continue on this painful trajectory, you could wake up one morning to find you’ve developed female secondary characteristics. You’ll never be able to enter a locker room again!”

    It’s always sad when boys taunt other boys (who lack physical prowess or some other popular, but actually unimportant, characteristic) with the “you throw like a girl” or “you’re a sissy” third-grade-level insults, but it’s incredibly sad when adults do it, especially women. Veiling it with terminology from biology class doesn’t make the “poor male athlete = girl” taunt any less pathetic.

  19. #19 Dan
    September 26, 2007

    Don’t take this the wrong way, but these student entries are seriously messing with my head. For a minute there, I thought PZ’s into fantasy football now?

    Don’t worry, Katie. This is a great snip of writing, and the thought of Drew Brees running around with floppy man-boobs cracked me up.

  20. #20 Morse
    September 26, 2007

    This is why you should have chosen Tom Brady.

    Never go against the golden boy!

  21. #21 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    September 26, 2007

    Not prejudiced Ben D, just that my eyes glaze over after about 5 min watching a bunch of monkeys with a ball.

    Um… You may want to rephrase that statement.

    The hits in American football are much harder. The overall speed in American foot ball is much higher.

    I’ve played both. Rugby at the college level. They’re both dangerous sports. Ignoring the types of injuries sustained in American football is just being ignorant.

  22. #22 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    September 26, 2007

    Um Screwed that blockquote closing tag. My comments begin at

    Um….

  23. #23 Ben
    September 26, 2007

    Oh, quit your bitching. At least you don’t have to deal with Rex Grossman on your actual team.

  24. #24 David Marjanovi?, OM
    September 26, 2007

    If you continue on this painful trajectory, you could wake up one morning to find you’ve developed female secondary characteristics. You’ll never be able to enter a locker room again!

    Lack of male hormones alone doesn’t produce female secondary characteristics. For that you need estrogen and whatnot.

  25. #25 David Marjanovi?, OM
    September 26, 2007

    If you continue on this painful trajectory, you could wake up one morning to find you’ve developed female secondary characteristics. You’ll never be able to enter a locker room again!

    Lack of male hormones alone doesn’t produce female secondary characteristics. For that you need estrogen and whatnot.

  26. #26 Zeno
    September 26, 2007

    The only *TRUE* sport is Soccer. Try head balling a soccer ball into the net, sans helmet, you wusses.

    Sports don’t interest me. I don’t read the sports page in the newspaper, I don’t watch the sports segment on local news, and I don’t watch games on television. Ever. I guess I’m missing that gene.

    It is therefore curious to note that I once allowed myself to be dragged into an intramural soccer game while in college and found it somewhat enjoyable — except for that “heading” thing. I refuse to use my head as a blunt instrument. No more soccer either.

  27. #27 Felicia Gilljam
    September 26, 2007

    Way to frame science! 😉 Seriously, this is an excellent way to bring scientific information to the uninformed public in a simultaneously humorous and interesting way. Now all that remains is getting it published somewhere where the uninformed public actually sees it…

    Re #19, I agree. I think it’d be nice if student posts had a small graphic or something signifying that it’s not PZ writing.

  28. #28 Rex Grossman
    September 26, 2007

    Dear Drew – I don’t think you suck at all.

  29. #29 No One of Consequence
    September 26, 2007

    Katie,

    Great post. I feel your pain.*

    I suggest you pick up another QB or two, because I don’t think Brees is going to stop sucking anytime soon (to think I wasted a decent draft pick on him).

    No One

    * and I thought for a second PZ was doing fantasy football too.

  30. #30 J-Dog
    September 26, 2007

    For all Americans that do not understand the vital difference between Rugby and Football, please read the short article:

    English Rugby Match Momentarily Stopped For Dead Player

    http://groups.northwestern.edu/womensrugby/links_thebrushback.htm

  31. #31 ElJay
    September 26, 2007

    Rugby certainly does have a greater appeal to me than football, but NOTHING is as absorbing as cricket. Not that 20 or 50 overs version : the test variety. Strategy, flashes of athleticism (Jonty Rhodes anyone?), oh and few advertising breaks.
    But yeah, Brees just plain sucks.

  32. #32 Barn Owl
    September 26, 2007

    I think discussion of the biology of sports performance issues and sports injuries can be used to encourage young pre-med types to pursue specialities such as neurosurgery, orthopedics, and physical medicine/rehabilitation. In the first place, we’ll need them to take care of us when we’re old and crunchy, and in the second place (and more importantly), there will be all of those traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, and limb amputation patients returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

    If I were into fantasy football, I’d put together a team of Michael Vick’s pit bulls. 🙁

  33. #33 Moses
    September 26, 2007

    Katie, I think your post was brilliant. Not only did it address neurobiology, but it had some snarkish humor in there with Bree’s progressing to a feminine-state if he keeps sucking.

  34. #34 caynazzo
    September 26, 2007

    Someone here needs to stand up for Brees. I graduated with him from Purdue University in 2001, the season prior he took us to the Rose Bowl where we were thoroughly routed by the Huskies. The Lily-White Fathers of West Lafayette even had a street renamed after him. Plus, he’s from Texass, where football rivals Jesus.

  35. #35 Shawn Wilkinson
    September 26, 2007

    I have to question your choice of fantasy QB 😉

    But still, a very good and informative post.

  36. #36 Heather
    September 26, 2007

    I am in the Biology Department at the University of Pittsburgh and I can assure you that football fanaticism can be a deeply ingrained part of science culture. Our most recent social hour was football themed. Perhaps this is true here because the Steelers have been doing so well and we crave the testosterone boost at this point like lab mice crave cocaine.
    I should start testing testosterone levels because there is a fraction of the department that still believes the Brown’s are going to come back on top. Wa ha ha.

  37. #37 Matt Leinart
    September 26, 2007

    Dear Drew,

    I don’t think you suck either.

    Matt

  38. #38 Christian Burnham
    September 26, 2007

    Poor.

    Didn’t really capture the Phayngula demographic. No squids in football.

    Didn’t cite studies in which football supporters turn into girly men whenever their team loses. If you can’t find the references, then at least use more lurid examples with made-up error bars and sample sizes.

    Future student posters should look on this as an opportunity to publicly humiliate their professor with stories of his most embarrassing quirks. I want to know- does P.Z. pick his nose when he thinks no-one is looking? Does he name his Zebra fish after pop starlets? etc. etc.

    Again- when in doubt- make it up. We’re here to be entertained.

  39. #39 CalGeorge
    September 26, 2007

    Wooo! A Natalie Angier in the making!

    Could you also write a letter to the Pope explaining how god intoxication stupidifies?

  40. #40 zer0
    September 26, 2007

    When I was in High School, many many moons ago, a History professor of mine handed out extra credit to any athletes in the room (for homecoming or something). We all raised our hand and went around the room telling him what team we were on. After the Baseball players and Football players, I spoke up and said I was on the Soccer team. I did not receive extra credit that day. He had the audacity to say “Soccer isn’t a sport, it’s a game.” Something about the average Baseball player running maybe 2 miles a game, and a Soccer player running 10-14 miles a game, makes me want to say Baseball is the “GAME”. Also: hate American Football. They need to remove the huddle, lower the game clock to 12 seconds, and leave the clock running on incomplete and out of bounds etc and then I might watch it.

  41. #41 wildlifer
    September 26, 2007

    Great post!!

    (And don’t worry about Lori, she’s auditioning for the PC-thought police)

  42. #42 True Bob
    September 26, 2007

    Baseball: 30 minutes of action packed into 3 hours.

    I have to side with those sports where the players are not taking breaks, i.e. defense & offense teams, more time in break than in play (football). But I want to nominate footie as the more intense sport.

    OT: EU Council to vote opposing creationism:

    http://www.reuters.com/article/scienceNews/idUSL2576540220070925

    “An Assembly committee took up the issue because a shadowy Turkish Muslim publishing group has been sending an Islamic creationist book to schools in several countries.”

    Sounds familiar.

  43. #43 Umilik
    September 26, 2007

    BOOOOOOOOOORING. Not even a “D” for effort.
    Besides, not only do I have to constantly read about the Saints in the local N.O. rag (headline: “dat hurts”) now I can’t even escape it on pharyngula ???? Yes, DAT HURTS.
    But since we’re already on the topic, here’s my question. How can Americans, who are well known for being afflicted with a miniscule attention span, watch a game that drags on forever but seems to consist of about 10% actual playing time and 90% standing around doing nada.
    Oh, and what does this piece have to do with neurobiology anyway ?

  44. #44 Sven DiMilo
    September 26, 2007

    Hey, how ’bout those Mets?!

  45. #45 Trent Dilfer
    September 26, 2007

    Dear Drew,

    I think you’re doing just fine.

  46. #46 John Danley
    September 26, 2007

    Time for Kenny Stabler.

  47. #47 True Bob
    September 26, 2007

    My bad. The council is not part of the EU. Here’s how they relate:

    http://ec.europa.eu/external_relations/coe/index.htm

  48. #48 bernarda
    September 26, 2007

    Maybe this testosterone study could be expanded to guys who play video shoot-em-up games. Why stop at the games, you could also study a great sportsman like Dick Cheney and his exciting hunting exploits. Did he get more of a rush shooting a guy in the face or downing 70 tame pheasants?

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3675813/

    “The increasingly low-profile V.P. was taken to Pittsburgh by Air Force Two earlier this week where his “security detail loaded him and his favorite shotgun into a Humvee,” and went to Rolling Rock Club in Ligonier Township, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. There, he and nine other hunting buddies shot at 500 ringneck pheasants, killing 417 of them. The V.P. was credited with offing 70 of the birds, as well as an unknown number of mallard ducks.”

    Back to sports, here is a little rugby song.

    http://web.mit.edu/wrugby/jesus.html

  49. #49 Chris
    September 26, 2007

    To all the tea-swillers who think that proper football is an inferior sport:

    If you actually watched it you wouldn’t think that. I know that sounds like a quasi-religious cop-out, but it’s true. They wear pads because it’s a faster, rougher sport than rugby. I just watched a few “highlight” reels of what passes for a big hit in rugby, and it honestly looked like your average NFL tackle every time. And really, how many rugby players can run 40 yards in 4.3 seconds? Hell, the Buffalo Bills have a punter who’s probably faster than your average rugby player.

    And it’s just plain ignorant to claim that football isn’t a thinking game. Yes, the coaches do a lot of the strategizing. That doesn’t stop every position on the field from having to consider about a dozen different aspects of the game at once, while having to outwit the guy on the other side of the line of scrimmage. Hell, offensive linemen have what looks like the easiest job on the field: push the fat guy in front of you. But it’s so much more than that- on a run play, they have to read the alignment of the defenders and make sure gaps are open for the runner. On top of that, they have to be thinking about their center of gravity, foot position, and what the guy they’re blocking is doing to get by them. Don’t even make me get into pass plays!

    I watched rugby a few nights on a trip to Australia once. To be honest, I have no idea which of the 10 billion rule sets I was watching. Still, it bored me to tears. That doesn’t mean rugby isn’t a great sport- I just don’t watch it enough to like it. Let’s not bash those sports that we only have an understanding of from channel surfing while drunk on a Thursday night, shall we?

  50. #50 Shap
    September 26, 2007

    I can’t believe that you guys consider American Football a real sport! Also, how can you call Rugby, Cricket, Football, Soccer, Golf, etc. a sport for real men! In my native country, we play an adapted version of our national sport, which is full contact, and doesn’t allow any type of pads. In fact, the players wear spikes on their clothing and try to gouge each other during the course of play. A match last 10 hours, and there are no breaks in the action, since the sport is not televised. Also, all players are covered in honey, and the match is played on a gigantic red ant hill. If the contest goes into overtime, bears are released onto the field, until one team is completely mauled and unable to continue. Afterwards, the contestants meet and celebrate their match over a pint of our country’s national drink, which is a combination of whiskey, anti-freeze, and the blood of the losing team collected from the playing field.

    All you (sport x) fans are a bunch of pansies!

  51. #51 Willey
    September 26, 2007

    AHHH! Fantasy Football! Kill it kill it kill it! Not only do i have to hear this garbage all over my office, now it’s infiltrating every blog! Die!

  52. #52 Umilik
    September 26, 2007

    “Also, all players are covered in honey, and the match is played on a gigantic red ant hill..”

    Shap, honey, shmoney. Sounds like a bunch of girlymen to me. Around here we use fire ant hills for our recreational activities …..

  53. #53 Kristin
    September 26, 2007

    I’m with Lori on this one – taunting Drew Brees by essentially saying he’s going to turn into a woman, is not cool. The first 3 games give you plenty of examples of how bad he’s playing this year. You don’t need to drop into that “just one of the boys” talk. It’s incredibly mysogynistic.

  54. #54 Kseniya
    September 26, 2007

    I’m shocked by these comments. Shocked, I say! Am I now to believe that Brees has ever not sucked?!?

    [insert standard “go Sox, go Pats” claimer here]

  55. #55 Willey
    September 26, 2007

    AHHH! Fantasy Football! Kill it kill it kill it! Not only do i have to hear this garbage all over my office, now it’s infiltrating every blog! Die!

  56. #56 True Bob
    September 26, 2007

    When I saw the headline, I thought Drew had made some stoopid anti-science remarks. You know, flat earth nonsense, creationism/ID endorsement, or other such hooey.

    And I’ll second Willey #51.

  57. #57 Harry Tuttle
    September 26, 2007

    It is therefore curious to note that I once allowed myself to be dragged into an intramural soccer game while in college and found it somewhat enjoyable –

    I can’t stand watching basketball but it is an immensly enjoyable game to actually play. Soccer, OTOH, is enjoyable to both play and watch. And at 6′ 4″ my head was often a target when I played.

    I also can’t stand NFL football but I’m a rabid college football fan. Don’t know why really, there’s no doubt the pro ball is a much faster and harder game but I just can’t get into it.

    And if spectacular injuries make a sport then all you field gamers must make way for the automtive sports. From F1 cars disintegrating on impact to Indy cars flying 50 feet into the air to 20 car NASCAR pileups to rally cars flinging themselves off mountainsides or, even, Paris-Dakar racers hitting LAND MINES…. nothing beats auto racing for impressive screwups.

  58. #58 Traffic Demon
    September 26, 2007

    “Soccer is not a sport, it’s an excuse to riot.” –Jim Rome

    “And because we’ve got soccer highlights, the sheer pointlessness of a zero – zero tie.” –Dan Rydell

    “I know we promised you soccer highlights, so let me just tell you that Columbus beat Miami one-nothing, Dallas beat San Jose one-nothing, Chicago beat Colorado one-nothing, and New England beat Kansas City two-one in an offensive slugfest. A modest proposal: make the nets bigger.” –Dan Rydell

  59. #59 Scott Hatfield, OM
    September 26, 2007

    Judging by the hairline in the photo, Mr. Brees himself probably has more than his share of testosterone!

  60. #60 Kseniya
    September 26, 2007

    Actually, Drew *did* make some stupid comments about Evolution, the establishment clause, and the Olsen twins, in my Fantasy Jocks Commenting On Scienceblogs League. He is SO benched.

  61. #61 Demented
    September 26, 2007

    Very interesting. I have always maintained that Payton Manning is a complete boob (even though I have to grudgingly admit that he doesn’t suck). The idea that a bad QB could not only BE a boob but perhaps GROW some is awesome.

    Someone needs to fit Eli for a training bra then…

  62. #62 Demented
    September 26, 2007

    If you are looking for stupid religiot comments from a QB you need to look into the miraculous healing performed by God on John Kitna last week. He left the game in the first half with a concussion and came back in the 4th qtr to win the game. Later that week he said that God healed him on the sideline…

  63. #63 dveej
    September 26, 2007

    #49:
    “They wear pads because it’s a faster, rougher sport than rugby.”

    No.

    They wear pads because America is the most litigious society in the world, and the money behind all this sports b.s. wants to protect itself from lawsuits.

    It’s kind of like how SUV drivers slow WAYYY down when going over even the smallest bumps in the road, so their pwecious wittle car might not sustain any nasty jolts. Padded and coddled to the point that nothing much will happen.

  64. #64 Geral
    September 26, 2007

    Hahaha. This is the blog post of the week.

    I watched him suck it up. It was sad to watch.

  65. #65 Courtney
    September 26, 2007

    I agree with Lori, too. I still enjoyed the post, but misogynistic humor wasn’t necessary. It’s not just about being PC, it’s about not being sexist. That sort of “girls are weak and no one wants to be one” humor is just a deeply ingrained example of an inappropriate attitude toward women.

    And, to be honest, that “oh, don’t listen to her, she’s just being an angry feminist without a sense of humor” isn’t a defense; it’s just a way write off women taking offense by insinuating more stereotypes, like hysteria and excessive emotion.

  66. #66 Bo Dixen Pedersen
    September 26, 2007

    I am 3-0 in my fantasy league to rub it in.

    And why all the hating? Every sport is different and watchable once you get to know the intricacies.

    I love watching both US Football (why call it football when so little of the sport is played with the foot) and football (what the rest of the world knows as football).

    I haven’t seen much Rugby because it isn’t much televised where i live (Denmark).

  67. #67 Ian
    September 26, 2007

    They wear pads because America is the most litigious society in the world, and the money behind all this sports b.s. wants to protect itself from lawsuits.

    They’re not protecting themselves from lawsuits. They’re protecting themselves from death.

    http://www.unc.edu/depts/nccsi/FootballInjuryData.htm

  68. #68 dogmeatib
    September 26, 2007

    I find it amusing how people who have never actually played football mock it as “girly,” an “unsport,” etc. I’ve seen high school play books that would make your head spin, but people comment on the “mindlessness” of it.

    Soccer players, recognize that you guys are getting a bit small to even play as a kicker/punter, which anyone who actually plays football knows, isn’t a real player. Yeah, you guys jog up and down the field, try sprinting against a guy running a 4.5 while swiveling the right direction to cover him all while he (knowing where he is going) makes cuts prior to having the equivalent of a 90 mph fastball thrown to him.

    To the rugby guys who talk so big, just once, go to a Div I practice. Chat it up with their linemen, don’t actually try to block them, etc., just talk to them. You’ll generally find guys who average out at 6’5″ 300 lbs and can run a 40 yard dash in less than 5 seconds. For the NFL, these guys are a tad small and slow…

    Defensive players in football have to be smart, fast, and tough. They have to know where they and their teammates are supposed to be in their given coverage. They have to be able to react to what the offense is doing (pass, run, etc.), and then they have to often break a block before tackling the ball carrier. All of this is done while being aware that the offense can call an audible, can initiate a trick play, etc.

    And sadly, I have Drew Brees in fantasy football as well .

  69. #69 Julie
    September 26, 2007

    Okay, ladies, seriously. Katie was making a *joke* about the man’s testosterone levels dropping, not about women being bad at sports. Your point about the “play like a girl” attitude being offensive to women is spot-on, but it doesn’t apply here.

  70. #70 Cannonstick
    September 26, 2007

    I don’t know anything about American football. I’m just passing by to express my agreement with ElJay about cricket. That is all.

  71. #71 Mickey Bitsko
    September 26, 2007


    “Quarterback” is one word.

  72. #72 firemancarl
    September 26, 2007

    ya know, all would all right if you’d just accept Brett Favre as your lord and savior. Maybe one day Brees will…. nah, no he won’t

  73. #73 Sven DiMilo
    September 26, 2007

    Hey, how ’bout them Stillers*? (3-0)

    *The correct pronounciation of the Pittsburgh NFL team, which plays right across the Allegheny from daantaan.

  74. #74 heddle
    September 26, 2007

    The lack of equipment proves that rugby players are wimps compared to NFL players. They try to hide behind the “oh, those American football players wear so much padding” line. But the truth is, it is not protective equipment, it is offensive armament. No silly little rugby player has to worry about some maniac who can crank out a 4.4 40 running full speed and spearing him in the chest with a Kevlar helmet. Sissies!
    Of course the only truly manly sport is NASCAR, but that’s another argument.

  75. #75 wildlifer
    September 26, 2007

    I agree with Lori, too. I still enjoyed the post, but misogynistic humor wasn’t necessary. It’s not just about being PC, it’s about not being sexist. That sort of “girls are weak and no one wants to be one” humor is just a deeply ingrained example of an inappropriate attitude toward women.

    And, to be honest, that “oh, don’t listen to her, she’s just being an angry feminist without a sense of humor” isn’t a defense; it’s just a way write off women taking offense by insinuating more stereotypes, like hysteria and excessive emotion.

    No, it’s a way to write off those anal retentive persons who believe we can’t joke about anything with tongue firmly planted in cheek, without being sexist, racist and every other “ist.”

  76. #76 Rienk
    September 26, 2007

    And to think of it that The Saints did such a great job last year! Maybe, when it comes to The Saints, those religious folk are right: “You gotta have faith”.

    Who dat! Who dat! Who dat say’n’ we’re gonna beat those Saints!

  77. #77 Torbjrn Larsson, OM
    September 26, 2007

    Wow, Pharyngula finally chose a subject I won’t touch with a ten foot pole.

    Oh, wait…

  78. #78 Torbjrn Larsson, OM
    September 26, 2007

    Wow, Pharyngula finally chose a subject I won’t touch with a ten foot pole.

    Oh, wait…

  79. #79 Ronnie Pudding
    September 26, 2007

    With all the players just drones that don’t need to think about what they are doing and merely need to be able to follow the orders of the coach who gets to brief them every couple of minutes on what they should do next.

    This isn’t true at all. Players are making a number of quick decisions both before and after the snap. A wide receiver, for example, is expected adjust his pattern to account for blitzes, man-to-man, cover 2, etc.

  80. #80 Steve_C
    September 26, 2007

    What a surprise.

    Heddle is a Nascar fan. Ooooof.

    At least in F1 the actually have to turn RIGHT occassionally.

  81. #81 Harry Tuttle
    September 26, 2007

    “I know we promised you soccer highlights, so let me just tell you that Columbus beat Miami one-nothing, Dallas beat San Jose one-nothing, Chicago beat Colorado one-nothing, and New England beat Kansas City two-one in an offensive slugfest. A modest proposal: make the nets bigger.” –Dan Rydell

    A modest proposal: mind your own business Dan. Americans playing by stupid nonstandard rules has hurt this nation’s soccer efforts for decades.

    This is the kind of dope who maintains that homeruns are the only thing enjoyable about baseball and who has contributed to that sport’s decline by OKing the juicing of balls and moving walls in (and steroid abuse). No you dolts, the squeeze play is the most exciting thing in baseball: strategy, speed and skill not just power.

    I grew up watching baseball at Engel Stadium with a redonkulous 471 foot shot to the center field wall which only Harmon Killebrew ever managed to clear with a homerun. Only the old Polo Grounds had a longer outfield. Homeruns were never a big part of my baseball experience.

    Similarly, a well played offensive strike in soccer is a thing of beauty even if it doesn’t result in a goal… hell, as a former defender I’d say especially if there is no goal scored. Nothing in the world satisfies me the way watching a wingback brutally and succesfully slide-tackle some hotshit striker into a fit of Italianesque whining and fakery does.

  82. #82 Matt the heathen
    September 26, 2007

    I really like this post, though it would be interesting to see a link to a paper talking about changes in testosterone in fans after a win/loss…

    Maybe it helps explain people acting like this?

  83. #83 raindogzilla
    September 26, 2007

    I’m still suffering from LaDainian Tomlinson Buyer’s Remorse.

  84. #84 Dragoniv
    September 26, 2007

    I’ll trade you Marc Bulger for Drew.

  85. #85 American Sports Fan
    September 26, 2007

    I can’t believe anyone who likes this sport would think American footballers are “sissies”.

    (Heheh, I bet PZ never imagined this would be a comment debate on his blog)

  86. #86 Chili Pepper
    September 26, 2007

    I never could stand team sports. The rules just seemed so pointless to me: “Why do you do it this way?” “Oh, well you see [long pointless recitation of rules]”

    As opposed to rock climbing: “Why do you do it this way?” “Because if you don’t, you will fall to your death.”

    (I think there’s a religion vs. science argument in there somewhere.)

  87. #87 heddle
    September 26, 2007

    Hey Steve_C, NASCAR turns right sometimes, ever heard of road courses? Watkins Glenn ring a bell?

    F1?? F1?? Those girly euro-men don’t drive, they “paddle shift.” Heh. What kind of racing goes years (true statement) between bona fide passes for the lead on the track–I’ll tell you, F1!!

    Kudos to Sven for his “Go Stillers” comment. I grew up right by the stadiums on the “norf-side” of Pgh. (Well, there was actually only one stadium then, 3-rivers, which me and my fellow street urchins used to sneak into for Pirate games.)

    A tip of the Uhrn-City brewski cap to you, sir.

  88. #88 Dahan
    September 26, 2007

    Sorry, I just don’t get it. I love American football, but this whole fantasy thing doesn’t make sense to me. So if I have Favre on me fantasy team, I would be hoping he’d have a stellar day against my decades long team, the Vikings, this Sunday. Hmmmm. Ya see, I think anything that dilutes your desire to see your team win like that just can’t be a good thing.

  89. #89 Micah
    September 26, 2007

    Well said, well said. I had the misfortune of having Phil Rivers and Kevin Curtis on my bench this week – surprisingly, I won anyway, raising my record to 1-2. But, speaking of Saints, it would be nice if Reggie Bush could do something besides get tackled in the backfield (the one-yard TDs were nice, but I’d like some yardage too).

    Ah well. As long as the Patriots continue to wreak unholy vengeance on the rest of the league for existing, I’m good. It’s so nice to see Brady have a real receiving corps for once.

  90. #90 Brownian
    September 26, 2007

    Ah, nothing says elevated intellectual discourse like the ol’ soccer vs. football debate.

    It’s just like being at the pub on a Saturday night just before the get-the-hell-out lights come on, but with less chance of me taking home that wacky artsy chick who becomes more exotic and intriguing with each shot of Jger. (Okay, my chances weren’t much to begin with, but–hey! Don’t change the subject!)

    So, what tattoos are y’all going to get so we can tell which side you’re on?

  91. #91 Clare
    September 26, 2007

    I read Katie’s post as making fun of those “you’ll turn into a girl” jibes. So, no complaints about that, but a link to something by Buss would have been a good idea, because then it might provoked more discussion of the biological questions, as well (or instead of?) the “football sucks,” “no it doesn’t” comments.

  92. #92 rob
    September 26, 2007

    Was this mistakenly posted on the wrong blog?

    Ok, here’s how it is relevant to me.

    When I was a little kid, I thought I had to care about sports. Everyone else did. Although I couldn’t see the logic in caring who wins a game that TOTALLY DOESN’T AFFECT ME, I figured that since everyone else did, I should too. After all, I couldn’t be smarter than everyone else.

    Finally, I grew older and got some confidence in myself. I realized that giving a crap about teams that I don’t even know any of the players is just utter stupidity, and I didn’t have to do it just because everyone else does.

    Around the same time I applied the same thought process to religion.

  93. #93 Bill Dauphin
    September 26, 2007

    Fascinating thread. I agree with those who say, in other words, “lighten up!” regarding jokes about manliness, but I’m also amused at the degree to which folks seem to judge the worthiness of a sport by its “manliness”… by which they usually mean its capacity for violent mayhem and/or catastrophic traumatic injury. It reminds me of the current series of TV commercials (for beer) in which a bunch of scruffily “manly” men are standing around doing something “manly” (like spray-painting camouflage on a car) when one of them does something un-manly (like, for instance, being momentarily nice to his girlfriend) and is instantly crushed to death by a giant beer can falling from the sky. Sheesh!

    George Carlin had a great routine comparing (American) football to baseball, saying that the former is essentially military and the latter pastoral. Call me a shepherd (or maybe a sheep), then, because I’m a baseball guy. I recall reading (though I don’t recall who wrote it) that the quality of the writing about a sport is inversely proportional to the diameter of the ball used to play it… which is why all the really good sports writing is about either golf or baseball. (As an aside, I’m not quite sure how one applies this rule to oblate balls!)

    Similarly…

    At least in F1 the[y] actually have to turn RIGHT occassionally.

    …I’ve always felt that the quality of any motor-racing sport is proportional to the product of the number of turns in a lap and the number of directions of turns (i.e., a factor of two for road racing but only one for oval racing). The single exception to this is drag racing, which scores a zero according to my equation: The sheer, awe-inspiring ridiculousness of going from a standing start to 320+ mph in the space of a quarter mile and the span of ~4.5 seconds trumps any lack of sophistication! Now that’s a manly sport… and one, ironically enough, in which women compete against men at a higher level than in almost any other sport! ;^)

  94. #94 Rey Fox
    September 26, 2007

    “So, what tattoos are y’all going to get so we can tell which side you’re on?”

    I’m going to shave my head and tattoo huge black pentagons on it.

  95. #95 American Scot
    September 26, 2007

    Maybe he and Rex Grossman can form a support group for shitty quarterbacks!

  96. #96 Brownian
    September 26, 2007

    Oh yeah.

    Awesome post, Katie!

  97. #97 Gernyma
    September 26, 2007

    I’ve had experience in this area. One year, I found myself with a perfect NCAA basketball bracket. I thought it was great at first, taunting all of my friends, cheering whenever I turned on the TV, and strangely putting on muscle mass. But by the championship game I was lactating and throwing empty bottles at the TV every time a commercial came on. If you decide to win, do it in moderation.

  98. #98 Dustin
    September 26, 2007

    Aren’t all american athletes juiced up on ‘roids?

    Duuuuhh yeah, dat’s like part uh da game. And da game’s ’bout tradition, and stuff. But, yeah, steroids are just part uh da game like dat. Dats important ’cause dat game’s ’bout competition, and tradition, and stuff. So steroids aren’t dat bad, ’cause dey’re ’bout competing, an tradition, and stuff. Yeah.

  99. #99 Dustin
    September 26, 2007

    I don’t tink dat swimmin is like a sport or anyting like dat. Its an athletic competition, but it ain’t got no tradition or nuthin. And its like easy, and stuff.

    Famous last words of my High School Quarterback before he got in a pool to try to prove me wrong about swimming, and sank like a sweaty slab of meat.

  100. #100 Kseniya
    September 26, 2007

    It’s so nice to see Brady have a real receiving corps for once.

    Ohhhhh yeah. Being saddled with crappy receivers like Troy Brown and Deion Branch all those years really inhibited Brady’s ability to win. *cough*

    Seriously, though, you’re right. Having a world-class go-to guy is a new thing. (I wonder if the Pats team vibe will relieve Moss of some of his, ahh, baggage.)

    Hmmm. Maybe I’ll watch a game this year. 🙂

  101. #101 J Daley
    September 26, 2007

    Oh, quit your bitching. At least you don’t have to deal with Rex Grossman on your actual team.

    Mercifully, neither do we anymore.

    In other news, anyone who derides one sport as less tough than another has never seen Aussie rules football, and anyone who thinks soccer is the greatest sport in the world (it’s up there) hasn’t ever seen Gaelic Football.

  102. #102 Brownian
    September 26, 2007

    Well said, well said. I had the misfortune of having Phil Rivers and Kevin Curtis on my bench this week – surprisingly, I won anyway, raising my record to 1-2. But, speaking of Saints, it would be nice if Reggie Bush could do something besides get tackled in the backfield (the one-yard TDs were nice, but I’d like some yardage too).

    Ah well. As long as the Patriots continue to wreak unholy vengeance on the rest of the league for existing, I’m good. It’s so nice to see Brady have a real receiving corps for once.

    Ohhhhh yeah. Being saddled with crappy receivers like Troy Brown and Deion Branch all those years really inhibited Brady’s ability to win. *cough*

    Seriously, though, you’re right. Having a world-class go-to guy is a new thing. (I wonder if the Pats team vibe will relieve Moss of some of his, ahh, baggage.)

    Ah, I see. This is another post about glossolalia.

  103. #103 Fernando Magyar
    September 26, 2007

    Re #89 Brownian I don’t know where you live but for that comment alone I’d buy you another beer and a shot. To Katie and all the comenters, tks that was the most entertainment I’d had in a while. Oh and lest I forget, Harry Tuttle you are the only *TRUE* sportsman here. Ok, so my ancestry is Hungarian and I was born in Brazil maybe I’m guilty of a little cultural bias. LOL!

  104. #104 Bill Dauphin
    September 26, 2007

    Ohhhhh yeah. Being saddled with crappy receivers like Troy Brown and Deion Branch all those years really inhibited Brady’s ability to win.

    But he didn’t have Branch last year, and Brown, though a total stud (witness him stepping up to play defense a couple years ago when the DBs had been decimated by injury), is aging.

    And the upgrade to the receiving corps is not just Moss: There’s also Wes Welker and a new tight end (whose name escapes me at the moment). The results speak for themselves: It’s the first time (IIRC) a team has scored 38 points in each of its first three games since sometime in the 1960s. I don’t think the Pats will go undefeated — I don’t think that’s possible in today’s NFL — but I’ll bet they’ll be the last undefeated team to lose.

  105. #105 CJO
    September 26, 2007

    I never could stand team sports. The rules just seemed so pointless to me: “Why do you do it this way?” “Oh, well you see [long pointless recitation of rules]”

    As opposed to rock climbing: “Why do you do it this way?” “Because if you don’t, you will fall to your death.”
    The rules, say, of baseball, while in a sense arbitrary, are not pointless. In a way, they evolved along with strategy and tactics to become a game of almost unbelieveable precision. Look at a fast player like Ichiro digging out a bouncer. Look at how close every single call at first is when the ball is hit to the infield. Watch a really good middle infielder turn a double play, or a good catcher throw out a runner at second, and tell me the rules of baseball are pointless.

    Hmmm? Drew Brees? Fantasy football?
    *Clings to delusion that baseball season lasts forever*

  106. #106 garth
    September 26, 2007

    I LOVE guys who have to say “I just don’t find it interesting” or “They’re just thugs/monkeys/jerks/etc”. The jealousy just drips off ’em. I mean, why comment otherwise? If it’s that boring and pointless then why even contribute? What are you adding? NOTHING! Nothing but maybe allowing you to say “See, in this small instance I am better than those ‘monkeys with a ball’ who intimidate me so very much.”
    In face-to-face conversation, saying, “Oh, I’m not interested in [whatever topic is brought up]” can serve a function. On a message board or comment thread, it’s masturbation.

  107. #107 Steve_C
    September 26, 2007

    The only thing that makes Nascar interesting are the crashes.

    Why am I not surprised the Heddle embraces tech that’s 20 years
    old over cars the flat out just go faster.

    I’ll take Hamilton having the greatest season of all time for a rookie in F1
    over guys going in circles anyday.

    To be honest Moto GP is the best racing.

  108. #108 Rey Fox
    September 26, 2007

    The Pats are certainly the team to beat, they got the tapes to prove it. Hey!

    Oh, and swimming isn’t a sport because it doesn’t have a ball. Swimming is a way to keep from drowning.

  109. #109 True Bob
    September 26, 2007

    NASCAR?!? Oh, puhlease. So what if they pass? Every pass is meaningless until the last lap.

    F1, open wheel racing, with 4G L & R turns and 4G braking, and 200 MPH on a 2.4 liter V8 (with almost regular gas) beats the snot out of those wallowing pigmobiles. Try making contact with open wheels and you may die. Race that close together with that thought.

    Add in actual outbraking (right, NASCAR, brakes used NOT ON PIT LANE), and standing starts and NASCAR has nothing. How many full course cautions in NASCAR? A couple years ago, I looked into it, and a minimum of 10% of laps were under yellow. NASCAR, I don’t think so.

  110. #110 Ian
    September 26, 2007

    When I was a little kid, I thought I had to care about sports. Everyone else did. Although I couldn’t see the logic in caring who wins a game that TOTALLY DOESN’T AFFECT ME, I figured that since everyone else did, I should too.

    I know! It’s the same with me and literature: Why should *I* care whether Frodo destroys the One Ring, or what happens to that old fart King Lear? If something doesn’t affect my life, why should I get emotionally involved?

  111. #111 David Marjanovi?
    September 26, 2007

    Still laughing about comment 50! 😀

    Duuuuhh yeah, dat’s like part uh da game. And da game’s ’bout tradition, and stuff. But, yeah, steroids are just part uh da game like dat. Dats important ’cause dat game’s ’bout competition, and tradition, and stuff. So steroids aren’t dat bad, ’cause dey’re ’bout competing, an tradition, and stuff. Yeah.

    What, do American Football players give intellectual speeches like this? That is way below, I mean, above the dignity of a football* player. There are whole books of famous football player quotes!

    “We must win. Everything else is primary.”
    — Lothar Matthus

    * The game where you use a foot to kick a ball. Soccer. Why does anyone call American Football “football”?

    And there are quotes about football. Don’t misundreshtmate that sport.

    “By playing football you can rid yourself of a large part of the aggression that you build up by playing football.”
    — Ephraim Kishon

    (I think there’s a religion vs. science argument in there somewhere.)

    Of course. Where I come from, football is a religion.

  112. #112 David Marjanovi?
    September 26, 2007

    Still laughing about comment 50! 😀

    Duuuuhh yeah, dat’s like part uh da game. And da game’s ’bout tradition, and stuff. But, yeah, steroids are just part uh da game like dat. Dats important ’cause dat game’s ’bout competition, and tradition, and stuff. So steroids aren’t dat bad, ’cause dey’re ’bout competing, an tradition, and stuff. Yeah.

    What, do American Football players give intellectual speeches like this? That is way below, I mean, above the dignity of a football* player. There are whole books of famous football player quotes!

    “We must win. Everything else is primary.”
    — Lothar Matthus

    * The game where you use a foot to kick a ball. Soccer. Why does anyone call American Football “football”?

    And there are quotes about football. Don’t misundreshtmate that sport.

    “By playing football you can rid yourself of a large part of the aggression that you build up by playing football.”
    — Ephraim Kishon

    (I think there’s a religion vs. science argument in there somewhere.)

    Of course. Where I come from, football is a religion.

  113. #113 Harry Tuttle
    September 26, 2007

    Hey Steve_C, NASCAR turns right sometimes, ever heard of road courses? Watkins Glenn ring a bell?

    NASCAR on road courses is a riot. Hey, who won at Infineon this year anyways? Why it was a rookie fresh from F1!

    F1?? F1?? Those girly euro-men don’t drive, they “paddle shift.” Heh. What kind of racing goes years (true statement) between bona fide passes for the lead on the track–I’ll tell you, F1!!

    Yep, paddle shifters. Because F1 isn’t still using 1940s technology. I mean… carberated pushrod V8s? On the “car of tommorrow”? WTF!?

    Seriously though, I’m not sure if F1’s tendancy to be a parade is any worse than NASCAR being meaningless until the last ten laps. Might as well throw the drivers’ names in a hat, pick the lineup at random and then run ’em for 10 laps because passing isn’t worth a good goddamn until then. ‘Course F1 could usually just run qualifying and award race points for it because that’s all too often how they finish.

    F1 is getting better with the newly designed tracks like Turkey, China and their like becoming a bigger part of the schedule than the older European tracks that just aren’t wide enough to race modern F1 cars on. There’s even been some dogfighting up front this year.

    But if you want wheel-to-wheel road racing at its best go look at DTM racing or even Spec Miata/MX-5 Cup racing. Those dudes go at it hammer and tongs, passing, rubbing and wrecking from green flag to checkered.

  114. #114 heddle
    September 26, 2007

    Baseball is especially cool because it has a travesty rule. I think it is the only sport that has one. With this rule, if you figure out a loophole, the umpires can thwart your efforts. The most famous example is the minor league catcher who had a potato in his pocket (the old days of baggy uniforms and fat catchers.) With a runner on third, he took the pitch, made the switch, and “tried” a pick-off. In fact he just lobbed the potato into left field. The runner trotted home, and the catcher tagged him out with the real ball. No rule was violated, but the umpire invoked the travesty rule and (I think) awarded the run.

    Baseball is so complicated that I don’t think an adult immigrant from a non-baseball country is capable of learning the rules. A foul ball is a strike, unless you have two strikes, then it’s not a strike, unless you had just barely tapped it and the catcher catches it before it hits the ground, then it is a strike, or unless you try to bunt, then a foul ball is a strike even if you already have two strikes.

    It’s like Royal Fizzbin in the original Star Trek. What’s not to like?

    Steve_C, it’s the mixture of high and low tech that makes NASCAR cars interesting. It’s a feature not a bug. They use carburetors! And gear shifts! How cool is that?

    True Bob, but F1 doesn’t pass for the lead on the last lap either, except on the rare occasions when hell freezes over, or if the lead car blows an engine. I don’t get your outbreaking comment–breaking strategy is crucial for almost all NASCAR races except on the super duper speedways like Talladega

    Harry Tuttle,
    Re: Juan Pablo winning at Infineon–rats, I have no snappy comeback to that. Touch!

  115. #115 Brownian
    September 26, 2007

    I never could stand team sports. The rules just seemed so pointless to me: “Why do you do it this way?” “Oh, well you see [long pointless recitation of rules]”

    CJO already responded to this regarding baseball, but there is a more general explanation: rules in sports evolve to prevent games from having foregone conclusions. In any competitive sport (and team sports especially), enterprising players will develop ‘trumping’ strategies that guarantee a win, or at least provide a significant edge. It is usually after these instances that rules get changed to either make such trumping strategies illegal or otherwise reduce or eliminate the edge provided by them. An example of such is the wooden backboard in basketball. Prior to the creation of the backboard, there was no backing whatsoever. Spectators sitting behind the baskets could reach out and tip the ball in or away from the basket to favour their preferred team. Wire meshes were then installed to prevent such interference, but the meshes became dented, and home teams would exploit their knowledge of the dents to sink more baskets. Finally, wooden backboards which did not favour either team due to their uniformity were developed, and remain to this day.

  116. #116 Brownian
    September 26, 2007

    Ah, Heddle, I recall reading about the ‘Great Potato Play’ some time ago, and I’m glad you reminded me.

    A classic to be sure.

  117. #117 Fatboy
    September 26, 2007

    All this talk about the best sport and noone’s brought up hockey? Heck, in baseball, there’s noone between the batter and the pitcher. How can they miss the ball? Try blocking a 100 mph slapshot when you’re being screened.

    As for all you fans of motorized sports, you’re all missing the best one. Racing in two dimensions is so old fashioned. Go watch the unlimited class at Reno. Sure, the airframes themselves may be 50 years old, but no Mustang or Bearcat ever had engines running like those.

    Actually, I’ve participated in several sports myself, and can see the merits to just about all of them. I even enjoy watching them occasionally on TV. I was just never able to get all that worked up about following other people playing.

  118. #118 Donny
    September 26, 2007

    For everyone complaining about how bad their team’s qb is, consider these facts:

    1) My team is coached by Herm Edwards.

    2) This week I will be forced to endure Herm vs. Norv Turner.

    3) Our mascot is the best tackler on the team.

    I would also like to point out to the haters that the history of football is a great example of the (dare I say) evolution of a sport. Soccer-style games have existed since ancient times, appearing in many cultures in various forms. The European version of the game split in the 19th Century (or earlier) into the associated football (soccer) and rugby branches, with rugby further diverging into modern rugby and American/Candian style football. While some have criticized this interpretation of the history of football (ie absence of transitional forms, violation of Newton’s Law of Gravity by Jerry Rice, the sudden emergence of the forward pass in 1895, etc.), most scholars agree with the underlying facts as presented.

  119. #119 Rey Fox
    September 26, 2007

    In F1, they don’t even allow you to bypass the nanker valve!

  120. #120 True Bob
    September 26, 2007

    heddle, are you saying some aspect of NASCAR depends on stomping on the brakes and reaccelerating? Those globs of metal cannot really use a road course. It’s hysterical to see them slogging around one.

    And right, Steve_C Moto GP and real road rallys are the best. Road rallys because the drivers are insane, and the navigators are insane with balls of steel (what trust). Moto GP, because they race head to head, and really pass for position. I wish F1 would straighten up, and put foot clutches and slicks back on. Then you’d see more passing (more mechanical grip and driver error).

    Last words on NASCAR: ‘restrictor plates’ /eyeroll

  121. #121 True Bob
    September 26, 2007

    Donny, the Mesoamerican ball game beats all the rest, hands down.

  122. #122 heddle
    September 26, 2007

    True Bob,

    Well–restrictor plates are not the greatest aspect of NASCAR, I agree. On the bright side they do lead to fantastic >20 car collisions, which are way cool.

  123. #123 Dwimr
    September 26, 2007

    Steve Spurrier. ‘Nuff said.

  124. #124 True Bob
    September 26, 2007

    NASCAR – loop de loop demolition derby. Go rent The Blues Brothers if you want crashes.

  125. #125 wildlifer
    September 26, 2007

    For everyone complaining about how bad their team’s qb is, consider these facts:

    1) My team is coached by Herm Edwards.

    2) This week I will be forced to endure Herm vs. Norv Turner.

    3) Our mascot is the best tackler on the team.

    I feel your pain. Bring on Brodie!!

  126. #126 Troutnut
    September 26, 2007

    Serves you right for not choosing Brett Favre!

    What were you thinking??

  127. #127 Ben D
    September 26, 2007

    I think PZ is missing a trick here. Just consider how controversial he could be if he blogged about atheism and sport. Preferably at the same time. Anyway, PZ, we want to know. Where do you stand on the great sporting divide? It’s got to be with rugby and higher chance of brain trauma, right? You know it makes sense.

  128. #128 Bill Dauphin
    September 26, 2007

    Fatboy:

    As for all you fans of motorized sports, you’re all missing the best one. Racing in two dimensions is so old fashioned. Go watch the unlimited class at Reno.

    I almost mentioned air racing in my original post, but I was thinking of the Red Bull air racing series… which, unlike “traditional” air racing (e.g., Reno), an ordinary person can actually watch on TV. Technically Reno-style racing is three-dimensional, but the race course is effectively a flat oval track in the sky; Red Bull air racing, which is sort of like a cross between competitive aerobatics and slalom skiing, is really 3-D. In fact, if you count “up” and “down” as directions of turn, it’s twice as good (according to my previous equation) as other forms of motor racing, having 4 total directions of turn (and that’s not even counting the roll axis!). Soon enough we’ll have rocket-powered air racing; how cool will that be?

    Donny:

    Re your evolutionary tree, consider that at some point there must have been a split between ball-in-net games that used a stick (e.g., hurling, lacrosse, field hockey…) and those that did not (i.e., soccer and its descendents). And what about non-field versions of those sports, such as team handball and water polo? Where do they fit in? Is basketball part of this evolutionary structure, or is it entirely separate. And are indoor versions of organic outdoor sports, such as indoor soccer and arena football, new species in their own right, or just mules?

    Enquiring minds want to know!! ;^)

  129. #129 Vitis01
    September 26, 2007

    I have recently thought that it would be a great idea to create a law that made it so if voter turn out was below 80% (or something) that all major league sports would be canceled until the next election.

  130. #130 Sven DiMilo
    September 26, 2007

    Hi Heddle; I grew up daan by Saath Park (it’s so hard to write like Myron Cope talks!), and whiled away many an afternoon in the right-field bleachers of 3R Stadium; it used to be so easy to catch the trolley into the city. And of course, I have pumped many an Ahrn, though my dad switched to IC Light decades ago.

  131. #131 Bruce Almighty
    September 26, 2007

    Tough sports?
    How about being the goalie for the darts team?
    And they won’t let me wear any padding…

  132. #132 BJN
    September 26, 2007

    Some “really” football?

    Even writing about the sport makes you dum.

  133. #133 Bill Dauphin
    September 26, 2007

    How about being the goalie for the darts team?

    Heh… I’ve always wondered what genius first thought a bunch of drunks throwing around sharp objects in a crowded room was a good idea for a sport! ;^)

  134. #134 Epikt
    September 26, 2007

    Hey Steve_C, NASCAR turns right sometimes, ever heard of road courses?

    Yes, I have. I’ve even driven a few. And–have you ever actually seen a NASCAR road race? Imagine elephants attempting a pas-de-deux.

    Watkins Glenn ring a bell?

    Presumably you mean the dumbed-down version of the Glen that NASCAR uses, where many of the most interesting turns are simply bypassed.

    F1?? F1?? Those girly euro-men don’t drive, they “paddle shift.”

    Those “girly euro-men” are typically, and of necessity, in vastly better physical condition than your NASCAR heroes. The physical demands of driving an F1 car are much greater than what’s required of a NASCAR driver.

    What kind of racing goes years (true statement) between bona fide passes for the lead on the track–I’ll tell you, F1!!

    Passing in F1 is much more difficult because of the aerodynamic sophistication of the cars. The airflow off the back of an F1 car is pretty weird, and definitely screws up the aero downforce of anybody following closely. With reduced downforce, the standard road racing pass (in the braking zone) becomes an exercise in red-mist-tainted optimism.

    Most passes on NASCAR are not “bona fide,” either, and have little to do with driver skill. All you have to do is follow somebody else for awhile (while listening to ol’ Rush on the radio, I suppose), then use the draft to pass. Of course, the car you just passed will do exactly the same thing to you on the next straight, so it’s meaningless until the last lap, but, hey, at least it keeps the rubes excited.

    Ultimately, NASCAR is heavily-marketed vintage racing. Some people like that.

  135. #135 Brian
    September 26, 2007

    Hah. As a football fan, fantasy football owner, and reader of this blog, I found great amusement in this article.

    I sent it to my friend who has Brees on his team. He found this much less amusing than I did.

  136. #136 Moses
    September 26, 2007

    NASCAR? F1? Not for me. Superbikes is where it’s at for me. 215mph+ suicide machines, wild courses, serious tactics, multiple passes and lead swaps (sometimes in the same corner) and all by guys who weigh 135lbs wearing minimal protection where a single mistake can mean death-by-cheese-grater.

  137. #137 scott
    September 26, 2007

    Now French boxing – that’s a sport. Kick at each other’s shins …. but don’t actually touch each other (at least these days).

  138. #138 deeks
    September 26, 2007

    Poor misguided fools, the only True sport is running, everything else is just games. That said, the measure of the validity of a “sport” is the amount of running involved. Therefore soccer is far closer to being a sport than Nascar or tennis.

  139. #139 Brownian
    September 26, 2007

    while listening to ol’ Rush on the radio, I suppose

    Epikt, I hope you’re referring to Rush the Drug Addict and not the Canadian prog rock band fronted by Geddy Lee.

    Because the band Rush wrote a song about an airport. And that’s cooler than anything the OxyContin Asshole ever did.

  140. #140 Fatboy
    September 26, 2007

    Re: #29, “English Rugby Match Momentarily Stopped For Dead Player”
    That was pretty funny, but reminds me of what the Pitt Rugby Team really did back in ’82. My brother started playing for Pitt in the 90’s – I don’t know if the university ever let the rugby club use their facilities the whole time my brother was there.

  141. #141 heddle
    September 26, 2007

    Passing in F1 is much more difficult because of the aerodynamic sophistication of the cars. The airflow off the back of an F1 car is pretty weird, and definitely screws up the aero downforce of anybody following closely.

    And this is considered a “plus” for F1 racing?

    Those “girly euro-men” are typically, and of necessity, in vastly better physical condition than your NASCAR heroes.

    That’s true. I am reminded of out of shape John Kruk (baseball) who was asked by a kid (I think): “What’s it like to be an athlete?” He responded with, “I’m not an athlete, I’m a ballplayer.”

  142. #142 divalent
    September 26, 2007

    Its funny how this post is by far the most active on the Science Blogs web site.

    It really is true that PZ or one of this students can post on just about anything topic and be the “hot” post of the day.

  143. #143 Epikt
    September 26, 2007

    Posted by: Brownian

    Epikt, I hope you’re referring to Rush the Drug Addict and not the Canadian prog rock band fronted by Geddy Lee.

    Absolutely. But I wasn’t sure what the correct emoticon is for “drug-addled mutant.”

  144. #144 True Bob
    September 26, 2007

    Imagine elephants attempting a pas-de-deux.

    Oooh, european big rig tractor racing!

    http://www.chrishodgetrucks.co.uk/pager/picturegallery.htm

  145. #145 bernarda
    September 26, 2007

    “I’ve seen high school play books that would make your head spin, but people comment on the “mindlessness” of it.”

    That is exactly what is mindless about it. Less than one percent of these players will ever have any use for what they learn in the play book.

    The rest are wasting their time when they could actually be studying something useful as well as interesting.

    The same goes for fans. They can spend hours discussing the why’s and wherefore’s of decisions and tactics in a sporting event, but they are incapable of discussing anything about government economic policy or war policy or whatever policy.

    Wasting their time on sports suits the corporate-government decision-makers very well.

    Here is George Carlin’s comparison of football and baseball.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YphEUa5LPjM

  146. #146 Brownian
    September 26, 2007

    Absolutely. But I wasn’t sure what the correct emoticon is for “drug-addled mutant.”

    Hmm. Something like this?

    $^P

    Needs more mutantness. How ’bout a pompadour with male-pattern balding, just like Rush?

    @$^P

    Looks like I’ve got the drug-addled mutant part down, but let’s make him angrier. He is the voice of conservative America doncha know, and they’re sick and tired and not gonna take it anymore.

    @>$^P

    Looking good, but still not specific enough. Let’s make sure the pilonidal cyst is represented, so no uncouth liberal mistakenly refers to him as a draft-dodger.

    @>$^P *

    There, a perfect likeness. Ooh, I can feel my leftist gonads shrinking at the site of such a decent (well, except for the drug addiction), hardworking (well, except for his flunking out of college), and honourable (well, except for the refusing to serve his country in its hour of need–oops, pilonidal cyst) man (as far as we know).

  147. #147 Micah
    September 26, 2007

    “It really is true that PZ or one of this students can post on just about anything topic and be the “hot” post of the day.”

    Well, yes, but this is also the most active Pharyngula post in a while. I actually find it interesting to watch – generally, if you bring up sports in a science-related area, you get a fair amount of activity. One, you get the natural inclination of science types to argue at length about anything, so those posts that are about the sport(s) in question tend to be lengthly. Then there are the American/non-American arguments involving football vs. soccer or rugby, if the sport in question is football, or the ‘baseball is boring’ argument if it’s baseball. Then there’s the “all sports suck and you’re stupid for liking them” argument that comes up anywhere you get more than a few geeks together. Then there’s our tendency to go on tangents, and you have all the other stuff that’s been brought up (like F1 racing). Add it up and you have rather a lot of activity.

    Kseniya: Yeah, you should watch some games this year. It’s amazing what Brady can do when he’s actually got a star or two to throw to – he makes bad receivers look good, but he makes good receivers look great. Monday night should be fun – Cincy gave up 51 points to the Browns, so I don’t think the Pats are going to have any problem matching their 38 point average.

    Incidentally, can anyone tell me what the syntax is for quoting people using those little indented quote boxes?

  148. #148 Rey Fox
    September 26, 2007

    Incidentally, can anyone tell me what the syntax is for quoting people using those little indented quote boxes?”

    [blockquote]This sentence would be formatted in a blockquote if I had used angle brackets > around the tags instead of square brackets.[/blockquote]

  149. #149 Micah
    September 26, 2007

    [blockquote]This sentence would be formatted in a blockquote if I had used angle brackets > around the tags instead of square brackets.[/blockquote]

    Much appreciated!

  150. #150 Sean
    September 26, 2007

    The same goes for fans. They can spend hours discussing the why’s and wherefore’s of decisions and tactics in a sporting event, but they are incapable of discussing anything about government economic policy or war policy or whatever policy

    Uh huh. Can your nose go in the air just a little bit more please? And get a wider paint brush. Perhaps a few sports fans out of the tens of millions in the United States alone were missed by that one. The cloud of smug coming from Clooney’s acceptance speech is nothing compared to the smug from the antisports folk.

    That is exactly what is mindless about it. Less than one percent of these players will ever have any use for what they learn in the play book.

    The rest are wasting their time when they could actually be studying something useful as well as interesting.

    Uh huh. In that case, I feel pity for you. A life of pure dedication where every aspect is devoted completely to the practical and useful. No time for entertainment, relaxation or simple pleasure. Well, thank you for sacrificing yourself to make the world a better place.

  151. #151 SeanH
    September 26, 2007

    Micah,

    If you’re interested this is a pretty handy list for the text formatting tags in HTML.

  152. #152 Fernando Magyar
    September 26, 2007

    American Sports Fan, Re comment #84, Yeah I guess so.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xMuvjLcuvTI&mode=related&search=

  153. #153 Kseniya
    September 26, 2007

    Right, Sean. Anyway, nothing’s quite THAT simple. Interest in sports may keep some guys on the couch all afternoon on Sunday, but it also gets a lot of kids out of the house and onto the playing field, and fosters a relationship with ones own body, a respect for physical fitness, and supplies a context in which people can pursue excellence through teamwork or through individual dedication, whether it’s in soccer, skiing, football, figure skating, rock climbing, curling – you name it.

    Also, at the risk of grossly oversimplifying, sports medicine is to orthopedics and physical conditioning as NASA is (or once was) to high tech.

    Bernarda’s not all wrong by any means, though. We’ve all known people who focus on sports to the exclusion of all else, and not in a completely healthy way. That’s not the fault of sport itself, however. Certainly the money paid to big-time pro athletes is rather obscene, but again that’s a failure of capitalism (or of human nature), not of sport itself.

    There are more important things – but there are more important things than music, too, yet while I wouldn’t want to live without it, I wouldn’t want to be blinded (or deafened) by it, either.

  154. #154 Traffic Demon
    September 26, 2007

    I am reminded of out of shape John Kruk (baseball) who was asked by a kid (I think): “What’s it like to be an athlete?” He responded with, “I’m not an athlete, I’m a ballplayer.”

    Sadly, he didn’t. He was asked about it on the Dan LeBatard show and attributed the quote to a teammate with him at the time.

  155. #155 Katie
    September 26, 2007

    The book I referred to is:
    Buss, D. 2008. Prestige, and Social Dominance, In: Evolutionary Psychology, New York: Pearson. Pp. 355-382.

    I don’t think you’ll be able to find the passage on-line. I really should have gone more in depth on the chapter because it’s a pretty fascinating presentation of theories on evolution and expression of human aggression. For example, Buss describes the research of Denise Cummins and her proposed theory of dominance as the impetus for the evolution of cognition. Aggression and dominance are observed in most animals (even insects) suggesting that there is strong selective pressure to evolve social hierarchies. Obviously being the alpha dog has a great deal of benefits, but it is also advantageous to be submissive in a community or simply occupy a rank or niche. If individuals are always always jockeying for status and the resources that come with it ( food, territory, access to mates etc.) then Cummins argues “The evolution of mind emerges from this scene as a strategic arms race in which the weaponry is ever-increasing mental capacity to represent and manipulate internal representations of the minds of others” (qtd. in Buss).

    Raindogzilla… I have LaDainian too. Sometimes I cry

    Ladies… sorry about the “you play like a girl” implication. Guess it was a bit below the belt. I myself play like a girl.

  156. #156 Kausik Datta
    September 26, 2007

    Soccer (though I prefer the term football, the ball game played with feet) is not comparable to either American football or rugby. Truly, soccer is unique; soccer is poetry in motion. Ah, to be able to control the movement of the ball without touching it with the hands; trapping a ball in flight with the torso, the thigh or the shin bone; sudden bursts of extreme speed, with equally sudden stoppage, all the while controlling the ball, keeping it away from the defenders, quickly scanning the field for friends or foes; an accurate pass to a fellow team-members, anticipating the direction and movement of the game; the sheer raw power of a side-tackle, and equally raw beauty of a swerve or a body-feint to avoid that tackle; and the final, overpowering ecstasy of putting the ball through to the relatively small area of the net, either with a cunning flick of the feet or a touch of the forehead, or with a straight shot exuding raw power; or an equally emotionally-stirring last-moment save by the goal-keeper demonstrating extreme athletic prowess as well as presence of mind… not to mention edge-of-seat excitement for the viewers every single minute of a grueling ninety minute game… each game a paean to stamina and endurance, speed, strength, and skill of the players…

    Hell, yeah, let me see any of those ‘manly’, ‘athletic’ American football players do that. Where is the beauty in a thick, heavyset guy – thickly padded or not, with or without a helmet – running in meandering directions clutching an oblong object, while being chased by several more of the same types, eventually only to be jumped upon and pommeled to the ground forming a heap? Where is the application of mind, the quick thinking, the strategy that evolves every minute, where is the skill, where is the athleticism (and I don’t mean that term in a WWF way…) in American football or rugby?

    Fernando Magyar and David Marjanovic, I salute you for taking the name of that ONE TRUE(TM) Spectator Sport, Soccer. Someone in the posts above tried to besmirch the name of soccer by mentioning British and German soccer hooligans. Those hooligans, sir, just demonstrate basic, lowly human nature; that is passion of the rabbles for you, incontinent of excitement, committing excesses that the society at large frowns upon – to them, soccer is a religion, and since when the religious have been rational (except Scott Hatfield)?

  157. #157 Barn Owl
    September 26, 2007

    #142-

    Wasting their time on sports suits the corporate-government decision-makers very well.

    Yeah, all of us who enjoy watching and/or participating in sports are mindless drones who can’t think about anything else. I’d much rather see the neighborhood kids out playing sports, whether team or individual, than sitting inside in front of the television or computer, turning into 350-lb diabetic, cardiovascularly-compromised lardasses. Your post apparently dismisses the improved health, cooperative teamwork, self-discipline, and leadership benefits or lessons that can be gained from participating in sports.

    So, is the initial post categorized as “Neurobiology” because the student is taking the blogmeister’s neurobiology class? Just wondering…seemed to have nothing to do with neurobiology to me. Endocrinology, at a stretch, but not neurobiology. 0:-)

  158. #158 Pablo
    September 26, 2007

    “The Lily-White Fathers of West Lafayette even had a street renamed after him”

    That would have been MOTHERS, BTW. Sonya was the Mayor, and Jan Mills was Deputy Mayor at the time (and is now the mayor).

  159. #159 Rey Fox
    September 26, 2007

    “Truly, soccer is unique; soccer is poetry in motion. Ah, to be able to control the movement of the ball …
    each game a paean to stamina and endurance, speed, strength, and skill of the players…”

    zzzzzzz…wha? I’m sorry, did you say something?

  160. #160 Pablo
    September 26, 2007

    There is a beauty to baseball that you don’t find in other sports.

    Baseball is one of the rare sports where defensive prowess does not improve one chances of scoring. In other sports, good defense can lead to good offense. For example, in basketball and hockey, good defense can cause breakaways which are better scoring opportunities. In soccer, good defense can keep the ball in the scoring end of the pitch. Similarly, in American football, good defense leads to better field position, and heck, the defense can even score. In baseball, however, no matter how good of a defensive play gets made, the offense always starts in the exact same position: none on, no out.

    A football team with a good enough defense could have their offense punt every time they have the ball and could still win the game. You can’t get away with this in baseball.

    This is why baseball stats are so easily amenable. The offensive and defensive contributions are completely separable. Batting contributes only to the offense, whereas fieldind contributes only to the defense. The same cannot be said in most other sports (with the exceptions being those other bat-and-ball sports, like cricket).

    Baseball also has the rare property that the offense never handles the ball (legally).

  161. #161 firemancarl
    September 26, 2007

    Just for the record and you heard it here first! My Packers will filet the Viqueens on Sunday Favre will throw his NFL record 421 TD to Donald Driver at the 10:0 mark in the first Q.

    GO PACK GO!!!!

    Packers fan since the mid 80’s, ya know, the “dark years”

  162. #162 CJO
    September 26, 2007

    Where is the application of mind, the quick thinking, the strategy that evolves every minute, where is the skill, where is the athleticism (and I don’t mean that term in a WWF way…) in American football?
    On the field.
    I’m not really an NFL fan. But to imagine that the game involves none of these (or considerably less than soccer) is, simply, to have never watched it with anything but a jaded eye.

    Yes, they’re big. Which is why the quickness, speed, athleticism, and, yes, even finesse, on display are so awe-inspiring to many.

  163. #163 Pablo
    September 26, 2007

    firemancarl

    You don’t know about the “dark” years.

    I was a Packer fan through the 70s, where it was a double whammy: the Pack stunk, and the Vikes didn’t.

    At least in the 80s, the Vikes weren’t any good, either.

    Of course, this weekend is very important. In order for the Packers to have a successful season, they have to beat the Vikes twice and the Bears once. They could be 3-13, but if they beat the Vikes twice and the Bears once, then I am perfectly happy. Similarly, they could win the Super Bowl, but if they lose even once to the Vikes, then the season is a disaster.

    They had a successful season last year, and a second not too long ago. However, it doesn’t happen very often.

  164. #164 Colin Burgess
    September 26, 2007

    Organised sport is a way for a community to focus it hatred on another community (eg Packers Fans), perhaps distracting them from hating subsets of their own community (eg minorities, Chess Club Players).

    I’ll all for it…

  165. #165 divalent
    September 26, 2007

    Hey, is gymnastics a sport?

    I say “no”.

    (And how about poker? Or billiards?)

  166. #166 Clare
    September 26, 2007

    Thanks for the reference, Katie. You may have to post again to get any reaction to it since there’s no stopping the competitive displays over sports that are piling up in the comments. Anything about that in the book (2008?)

  167. #167 Jsn
    September 26, 2007

    Ungh, unnnngh urrrrrghhhh, aaaaaaaargh!!!! (snort) ugh ugh ugh. DALLAS COWBOYS rrrrrrraaaahhh, ungh uuunnnghhh.

    One tag on sports and devolution rears it’s ugly head. Way to go, Katie! 163 comments and climbing.

  168. #168 dwarf zebu
    September 26, 2007

    “Studies show that male sports fans experience similar drops in testosterone after their team suffers a loss.”

    Now what happens to female fans?

    Indeed!

    I don’t play/understand fantasy football, but I think that Brees is being unduly ragged on here and not enough attention is being paid to the pathetic lack of protection he’s gotten from his O-line in the last three games. Not to mention New Orleans’ rather lackluster defensive play.

  169. #169 Bill Dauphin
    September 26, 2007

    Katie:

    I myself play like a girl.

    I’m reminded of a great series of TV spots that had great female athletes proudly saying “I throw [hit, swing, run] like a girl!” Puts a whole new perspective on it.

    These days, one of my great interests as a sports fan is rooting for women who compete against men: Annika Sorenstamm and Michelle Wie in golf; Danica Patrick, Sarah Fisher, and Milka Duno in the Indy Racing League; Hillary Will, Melanie Troxel, Ashley Force, Erica Enders, Peggy Llewellyn, and Angelle Sampey in NHRA drag racing; Julie Krone in horseracing…. I was flipping through the channels this weekend and saw a bit about a woman (whose name I didn’t catch) who’s qualified for a “tour card” on the men’s professional bowling tour. There have been female kickers in high school and college football, and I can’t in principle see why there couldn’t be one in the NFL. For that matter, there must be plenty of women’s softball players who are bigger and stronger than Ichiro, so why couldn’t there be a female player in MLB?

    Any minute now, of course, I’m going to be crushed by a giant beer can for even thinking this way, but there youhave it!

  170. #170 Pablo
    September 26, 2007

    “Hey, is gymnastics a sport?

    I say “no”.

    (And how about poker? Or billiards?)”

    I say yes, just different kinds of sports.

    Friends and I have discussed this issue a lot, and we have ultimately organized sports into different categories. We still dispute the categories, but the general idea is there

    1) Goal sports (basketball, football, hockey, soccer): the object is to get the ball (puck) inside a goal
    1a) Volley sports (tennis, volleyball, badminton (I consider this a subset of goal sports, but this is disputed): the object is to get the ball (birdie, etc) to stay on the opponents side of the net (which is effectively a goal, I say)
    1b) Target sports (golf, darts, archery, curling, billiards) (I consider this a subset of goal sports, too): basically a goal sport without an active defense

    2) Base sports (baseball, cricket, softball)
    3) Strength sports (weightlifting, long jump, high jump)
    4) Fighting sports (boxing, wrestling, judo)
    5) Performance sports (basically anything judged, gymnastics, diving, ice skating, cheerleading)
    6) Racing (there are two types of racing; one is where you move a fixed distance in the shortest amount of time, the other you have a fixed time and move the largest distance (like the “hot dog eating contest” :); there is some dispute about whether golf and croquet should be consider target sports or races)
    7) Strategy games: poker, bridge, chess, checkers

    There are lots of different types of sports, and the goals of poker are just as different from hockey as are the goals of weightlifting, in the end. Discarding it turns pretty much arbitrary, then.

    Sports like the biathalon obviously cover two categories, but the reason we generally find the biathalon awkward is because it is two different categories. How do you combine scores from two separate categories of sports? It’s tough.

  171. #171 Rey Fox
    September 26, 2007

    I’d like to point out that PZ is out of town and with all the other threads having pretty much ran their course over the last couple days, this is all we have. Soon, when we have some more red meat to chew on, this blog can once again be the home to the intellectual creme de la creme, like Jsn upthread, who seems to have dropped and broken his monocle in shock over the behavior of us vulgarians.

  172. #172 Pablo
    September 26, 2007

    “Soon, when we have some more red meat to chew on, this blog can once again be the home to the intellectual creme de la creme”

    Dude, in how many blogs can you see a post that organizes sports according to their goals?

    Game theory is a valid branch of science, and sports can be talked about from that POV.

    Wait until I crack out my phase space theory description of sports results.

  173. #173 Micah
    September 26, 2007

    SeanH: Thanks, I’ll definitely put that to good use.

    Pablo: I would also add the fact that it’s a team game that often boils down to a single, one-on-one confrontation. There’s nothing quite like the chess match between pitcher and batter, and the fact that baseball is not a timed game leads to some of the most compelling drama in sports in the ninth inning.

    Kausik: I’d argue that there’s plenty of beauty in a pretty pass hauled down one-handed by a phenomenally athletic wide receiver, or in someone like Barry Sanders faking a defender out of their shoes (and many other examples). But – and I say this as someone who actually does like soccer, played it as a kid, and enjoys watching it – you need to get rid of flopping before you can name it the spectator sport supreme. Fans (especially here) have been raised on a steady diet of ‘suck it up and play’, and the sight of people who weren’t even touched taking theatrical dives to draw penalties is disgusting and unworthy of the sport. Especially since it can and does have an actual outcome on the game.

  174. #174 Hap
    September 26, 2007

    82: It could be worse – you could be the Atlanta Falcons. $130M (- whatever they get back) and a big black eye will get you a whole lot of buyer’s remorse…

    165: A running game, some receivers that can catch the ball, and a defense that can stop the other team would help, too. The lack of a running game reinforces the lack of an offensive line argument above.

    There are lots worse quarterbacks to have chosen either for fantasy football or for real – I’m pretty sure the Bears would send NO a lot of money (and some players) to have Drew Brees over the variety of quarterbacks they have now.

  175. #175 Ronnie Pudding
    September 26, 2007

    don’t play/understand fantasy football, but I think that Brees is being unduly ragged on here and not enough attention is being paid to the pathetic lack of protection he’s gotten from his O-line in the last three games. Not to mention New Orleans’ rather lackluster defensive play

    That doesn’t matter; O-linemen aren’t drafted in fantasy football.

    Play fantasy football and your perceptions of players will change greatly. Laurence Mauroney is a bum because hasn’t for being on a pass-happy offense (INTs don’t hurt you much, and wins don’t matter at all). Opinions of Reggie Bush vary greatly depending on whether you play in a PPR league or not.

  176. #176 Pablo
    September 26, 2007

    “Pablo: I would also add the fact that it’s a team game that often boils down to a single, one-on-one confrontation. There’s nothing quite like the chess match between pitcher and batter, and the fact that baseball is not a timed game leads to some of the most compelling drama in sports in the ninth inning.”

    This is another great aspect. See the Giants/Padres game last night. In baseball, both teams get exactly the same opportunities to score, and one side can’t “run out the clock” to end the game. You have to get the other team out 27 times to win. Thus, you can be ahead by a run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, but until you get that third out, the game isn’t over. Which means you have to face Brian Giles with two men on base…

  177. #177 Ronnie Pudding
    September 26, 2007

    Woops, mucked up my own post #172. I meant to say that Mauroney is a bum for not scoring TDs, and Jon Kitna is revered for being on a pass-happy offense.

  178. #178 Donovan McNabb
    September 26, 2007

    Sucking?
    Been there, done that.. but at least I wasn’t 0-3! ha ha haa

  179. #179 Kseniya
    September 26, 2007

    The chess game may actually be between the catcher (who calls the pitches) and the batter.

    I heard a local legend about the BoSox being one strike away from winning the Series with a two-run lead in the sixth game but being unable to get that last out and losing the game, and ultimately the Series, to Some Other Team From New York.

    Yeah, right! Like that could happen.

    I did see a few nice comebacks against the Yankees in the playoffs three years ago. Now THAT was cool.

    It was, after all, a baseball player who infamously said, “It ain’t over ’til it’s over.”

    Now, what was the name of the woman who said, so astutely, “Baseball is what we were, and football is what we have become.” Oh yeah: Mary McGrory.

    Football is ok. It’s brutal, the hard hitting does nothing for me, I don’t approve of the get-tough, play-hurt, ruin-your-knee-for-life mindset or the whole testosterone-soaked vibe, but it’s underrated as a strategy game and as a display of superb athleticism under taxing circumstances. Playcalling is chess meets liars-poker, and the margin for error in executing the play is very narrow at the pro level.

    Grace under pressure, thy name is Adam Vinatieri.

    But it’s baseball that lights my candle. What can I say.

  180. #180 True Bob
    September 26, 2007

    I second what Micah said about football (soccer). I used to play back in the day, and it is a great sport, but True Players don’t fake injury for a call. That pollutes the game terribly, and is what turns me off from current play. I love the sport, and don’t care if it is 1-0, as long as it was a good game. But the fakery totally blows.

  181. #181 Fernando Magyar
    September 26, 2007

    #156 Rey Fox, I’m a Buffalo Bills fan and a New York Yankees hater, loved the Soxs, but you have to have never seen a top professional soccer player in action to come up with that comment. Go on take a little look.
    Ronaldinho brilliant moves and goals dribbles
    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=1026587689768045828&q=brilliant+goals+in+soccer&total=70&start=0&num=10&so=0&type=search&plindex=1

  182. #182 firemancarl
    September 26, 2007

    Naw, a real rivalry is the Pack vs Da Bears, the oldest one in football I believe. I canna wait to kick their ass twice this year! My dads a Bears fan…….

  183. #183 J Daley
    September 26, 2007

    I really hope the 100,000th comment is on this thread.

    Where is the application of mind, the quick thinking, the strategy that evolves every minute, where is the skill, where is the athleticism (and I don’t mean that term in a WWF way…) in American football or rugby?

    You obviously haven’t ever heard of Jonah Lomu and the New Zealand All Blacks…

  184. #184 Sven DiMilo
    September 26, 2007

    Clearly none of you sports philistines know anything about waterpolo.

  185. #185 Pablo
    September 26, 2007

    firemancarl

    Only really old Packer fans care much about Packer/Bears. Most Packer fans under 50 hate the Vikes much more.

    Bear fans like to think there is this big rivalry with the Pack, but that is wishful thinking.

    I asked my brother about this last year. He’s 50, and has been a Packer fan since he was probably 10 years old (aka Super Bowls 1 and 2). I asked, who do you hate more, Bears or Vikings? It wasn’t even close, he said. Vikes, by a long way.

    Yeah, the Packers/Bears go a long way back, but they’ve not been competitive against each other in a long time. When the Bears were good in the 80s, the Pack was way down so it wasn’t like they were in the way of anything.

  186. #186 justpaul
    September 26, 2007

    How about that great Olympic “sport” synchronized swimming?
    I’m waiting for the Olympics to sanction a sport I could participate in, that the US Marine Corps went to great lengths to teach me – synchronized walking (marching). If the first is a sport, why not the second?

  187. #187 Pablo
    September 26, 2007

    “I’m waiting for the Olympics to sanction a sport I could participate in, that the US Marine Corps went to great lengths to teach me – synchronized walking (marching). If the first is a sport, why not the second?”

    Do they still do the “dressage” part of equestrian?

  188. #188 No One of Consequence
    September 26, 2007

    If PZ grades his students on the number of comments their posts generate, Katie’s post here and Bright Lights’ first post are going to ruin the curve.

  189. #189 Epikt
    September 26, 2007

    Posted by: Brownian

    Absolutely. But I wasn’t sure what the correct emoticon is for “drug-addled mutant.”

    Hmm. Something like this?

    @>$^P *

    There, a perfect likeness.

    Almost there. We just need to figure out how to animate it, so as to capture the flecks of foam around the corners of the mouth.

  190. #190 steve
    September 26, 2007

    american football is like a turn based strategy game of war without guns. it’s like full contact chess. it’s an extremely violent struggle to move a ball 100 yards at great physical risk to all the parties involved. with so few games and such high risk of injury, every moment in every game counts, every mistake could mean defeat, every victory is meaningful.
    i find it quite fascinating as i’ve never seen anything else like it.

  191. #191 Katie
    September 26, 2007

    Oh… maybe I should have mentioned. Chess players exhibit the same testosterone fluctuations when they win or lose a match. It sounds like whenever one percieves him or herself to have lost at anything even the non-physical, there is an physiological response.

  192. #192 Geral
    September 26, 2007

    Almost 200 posts..

  193. #193 Dahan
    September 26, 2007

    < [blockquote]This sentence would be formatted in a blockquote if I had used angle brackets > around the tags instead of square brackets.[/blockquote]>

    so this is in blockquotes huh?

  194. #194 dahan
    September 26, 2007

    Damn, screwed it up. Time to log off. I’ve spent to many hours on the ‘puter trying to get my PP ready for tomorrows class and need to gp drink rum and cokes for a while…see ya all later.

  195. #195 folderol
    September 26, 2007

    Pablo at #184:

    Do they still do the “dressage” part of equestrian?

    Yes, Pablo, they do. Dressage is an Olympic sport (and no, good dressage is not akin to watching paint dry!). And hey, just try doing a sport where your dance partner has four legs!

    Here’s a good example: http://youtube.com/watch?v=zKQgTiqhPbw

  196. #196 Monado, FCD
    September 26, 2007

    “My sport’s better than your sport” because you have to understand a sport, at least enough to know what’s going on, to enjoy watching it–unless it’s simply beautiful, like horse racing or high diving. When all I knew about football was, “They’re lining up now–they’re running around now–they’re falling down now,” I didn’t enjoy it. I now know that players spend three months memorizing closely choreographed plays before the season starts. How do you think it happens that one fellow is running down the field when the ball just falls into his arms? There are choices about what kinds of plays to call under what circumstances. Managers and strategists tend to appreciate football.

    And when my understanding of hockey was nil, I saw it only as a confusing swirl; it took elementary instruction in the rules and non-rule strategies–e.g. when it’s a good idea to commit a foul and risk a penalty–that I could enjoy it. Hockey is a series of skills and tactics with relatively few strategies. A hockey player can be plucked from his team and dropped into another team the next day and still play well.

    I don’t understand baseball or cricket enough to enjoy them; baseball is boring to play as well as to watch. I used to enjoy fencing but it’s boring to watch on TV because it’s too fast and the movements too small for the camera follow. It’s exciting to watch in real life.

    I have learned not to be proud of my ignorance of sports. My working position has changed to, “If I understood the rules, I’d probably enjoy watching it or playing it.”

    I wonder if success in business leads to more testosterone? How about baking the best dessert?

  197. #197 Deb
    September 27, 2007

    Am a life-long Browns fan, so I hope #35 can study the drop after a good loss;)
    Katie: I think the number of posts tends to prove your point. Even the intellectual webloggers get fired up about football, a sport which surely involves lots of aggression on some level! Keep studying hard so you can go to med school! Much love, and God bless!

  198. #198 rhian
    September 27, 2007

    No, really. It doesn’t matter whether or not it was intended as a joke.

    Why does being bad at football equate with being more female? Why is it so acceptable to draw that correlation that most people don’t even notice it? And why is “feminization” of men funny?

    It’s like saying “that’s so gay”, but even more blatant — because no one pretends it means anything different.

  199. #199 Kseniya
    September 27, 2007

    And why is “feminization” of men funny?

    I don’t know, but it’s a very popular pastime. There must be an explanation. Sometimes it’s harmless fun (the “women” of Monty Python, for example) and sometimes not.

    Regardless, we see this all the time, in both directions. Whenever Ann Coulter comes up, within the first 5 comments someone will have called her “Mann Coulter” or commented on her alleged Adam’s Apple and large extremities. Over on the current Peter Irons thread, Denyse O’Leary’s name came up, and it was immediately pointed out that she looks like David Bowie and could easily be mistaken for a man. (Ironic, given that Bowie’s seminal androgeny was considered edgy and cool.)

    Don’t misunderstand me. I have no interest in defending these women – Coulter’s work is uniformly and utterly contemptible, and O’Leary’s hasn’t impressed me much either – but WTF? Is gender identity so fundamental to a persons sense of self and external image that attacking it is simply the cheapest shot available? Is there some primeval animal behavior behind it? It’s been observed that the males of some species engage in mock intercourse to defuse conflict and establish hierarchy. That is interesting, and explains rugby almost completely (heh) but unfortunately doesn’t give us much insight into the corresponding masculinization of females.

    As for Coulter, her alleged Adam’s Apple is easily explained: pharyngeal jaws.

  200. #200 carlsonjok
    September 27, 2007

    Dressage is an Olympic sport (and no, good dressage is not akin to watching paint dry!). And hey, just try doing a sport where your dance partner has four legs!

    Here’s a good example: http://youtube.com/watch?v=zKQgTiqhPbw

    Wow! As a western rider, I have to state that the canter pirouettes aren’t nearly as flashy as a reining spin. But, the rest of that exhibition was simply stunning.

  201. #201 bernarda
    September 27, 2007

    Doing a few searches, I found a lot of studies on sports and health. As to football, there is this rather disturbing one.

    “The chance that a college football player has had a concussion playing football, either before or during college is very high about one in three,” according to the study’s lead author Michael Collins, Ph.D., from the Division of Neuropsychology at Henry Ford Health System, Detroit. “Our study revealed that more than two-thirds of quarterbacks and tightends had experienced at least one concussion, while one-third of running backs/fullbacks had a history of concussion.”

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/09/990910080015.htm

    The blog Retrospectacle reported on the heart size of athletes. Unfortunately it doesn’t include football or baseball.

    http://scienceblogs.com/retrospectacle/2007/09/enlarged_heart_a_consequence_o.php

  202. #202 bernarda
    September 27, 2007

    As to academic success for athletes and non-athletes, it is a rather mixed bag.

    http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/01/20/grad

    “Male athletes were slightly less likely to graduate than other students (55 percent vs. 57 percent for all students), and 43 percent of Division I basketball players, 54 percent of football players, and 71 percent of female athletes earned a degree in six years.

    Athletes in Division II graduated at a rate of 54 percent, compared to 45 percent for all students at their institutions. In Division III, the 1998-99 rates were 67 percent for athletes and 62 percent for all students.”

    It seems that it is better to be an athlete in Divisions II and III than in Division I. There is also a comparison of male and female athletes. Note that the women regularly out-perform the men.

    http://insidehighered.com/news/2005/12/20/grad

  203. #203 Christian
    September 27, 2007

    David Marjanovi?:

    Why does anyone call American Football “football”?

    Uhm… maybe because armpitball sounds kinda lame 😉

  204. #204 True Bob
    September 27, 2007

    As for Coulter, her alleged Adam’s Apple is easily explained:

    [Austin Powers]
    She’s a MAN, baby!
    [/Austin Powers]

  205. #205 Barn Owl
    September 27, 2007

    Hasn’t New Orleans suffered enough loss in Hurricane Katrina?

    In the world of medical school applications, Hurricane Katrina relief is the new Doctors Without Borders. Best not to raise the topic in an essay or interview, unless you have some concrete actions on your part to back it up. Most interviewers and admissions committee members are capable of checking the blogs and MySpace/Facebook pages, and of asking painfully direct questions about an applicant’s involvement in, and commitment to, activities mentioned in the application essays.

    Of course, there are plenty of medical schools that admit applicants almost exclusively on the basis of MCAT scores and undergrad grades, and that don’t seriously consider volunteer work and community engagement. Whichever your preference, Katie, best wishes for successful applications, and remember that admissions committees are not deliberately delaying decisions to torment applicants…rather, it’s a complicated process, and one that should be completed with care and effort.

  206. #206 Kseniya
    September 27, 2007

    LOL @ Bob    8-D

    (It’s like trying to stem the tide with a teacup…)

  207. #207 Dave Godfrey
    September 27, 2007

    Rugby is a game for barbarians played by gentlemen.
    Football (Soccer) is a game for gentlemen played by barbarians.

    As I understood it the neccessity for padding in American Football was primarily because there is no such thing as a “high tackle”. If this is not correct feel free to correct me. In rugby tackling above the waist is not permitted, nor is tackling any player who does not have the ball, so the risk of serious head injury from a 15 stone object hurling itself at your head is much lower. You’ll be wanting a mouthguard to keep your teeth though.

    For me (and its purely personal) I find Rugby Union preferable to American Football simply because the game flows more- there isn’t the continuous stopping and restarting every time something interesting happens.

  208. #208 Rey Fox
    September 27, 2007

    “Why does being bad at football equate with being more female? Why is it so acceptable to draw that correlation that most people don’t even notice it? And why is “feminization” of men funny?”

    I’ll take a few stabs at this. The post mentioned studies suggesting lowered testosterone levels in the losers of athletic competition. Now while someone pointed out that this would not be enough to produce overtly female characteristics, we’ll just have to roll with it. Drew becomes more girly. Why would this be funny? Well, because he plays in one of the manliest of all sports, football, and, if it needs to be pointed out, all-male competitive football. Were he to become a sort of girl on the field, he might be at a marked disadvantage when there are 250-pound linemen and linebackers hurtling themselves at him. Were he to lose the aggressiveness often associated with testosterone, it might hurt his competitive drive. Were he to lose some upper-body strength, he might not be able to throw the long ball. All very broad and tenuously connected to reality, of course, but that’s how humor tends to work. It’s not a suggestion that being a woman or being feminine is somehow shameful and bad. It’s just a matter of context.

  209. #209 Rey Fox
    September 27, 2007

    “That is interesting, and explains rugby almost completely (heh) but unfortunately doesn’t give us much insight into the corresponding masculinization of females.”

    Well, masculinization hints at decreased fertility and baby-making and baby-rearing ability. It’s evolution, baby! 😉

  210. #210 Cynthia
    September 27, 2007

    Katie, you should try The Onion Fantasy Football:
    http://fantasysports.theonion.com/
    The goal is to have the worst team.
    Good Luck?

  211. #211 Mr. Gunn
    September 27, 2007

    Wow, it took 166 comments until someone mentioned the real reason he’s not doing well. If he had the same protection that Peyton has for every pass, he’d do better. Hell, if I had that kind of protection, I could put up impressive stats. Did you see how skinny the whole O line looked against the defenders?

  212. #212 Bill Dauphin
    September 27, 2007

    Re graduation rates for athletes:

    It seems that it is better to be an athlete in Divisions II and III than in Division I.

    I don’t have any statistics on this, but decades of reading the sports pages suggests a few ideas:

    1. Division II and III athletes are FAR less likely to go on to professional sports. I don’t know if it’s true for lower-profile professional team sports (pro lacrosse, pro women’s softball, beach volleyball, etc.) or individual pro sports (golf, tennis, etc.), but the vast majority of college athletes who go on to professional football, basketball, baseball, hockey, or soccer come from Division I programs, not Division II or III. Of course, not all of those future pros leave school early, but some do, and where the overall roster size is small (e.g., basketball), even one or two can make a large difference on a percentage basis. And even among future pros who play out their full 4 years of eligibility, many may be so focused on their athletic endeavors that they do not graduate in that time. (Aside: Some might decry that situation, but I don’t. Those young people are quite appropriately focusing on the career of their choice, in just the same way that bio majors or future teachers are.)

    1a. One possible explanation of the higher graduation rates for female athletes is that they (sadly) have fewer opportunities than their male counterparts to pursue professional sports.

    2. No athletic scholarships in Division III. I don’t know whether there are athletic scholarships in Division II, but I’m guessing they’re less available/generous than in Division I. The logical conclusion is that fewer Division II and III athletes are in college primarily as athletes. (Again, I don’t think it’s a bad thing to be in college primarily as an athlete, any more than it would be a bad thing to be there primarily as a violin player or a short story writer.)

    I’d be curious to see statistics on graduation rates for students involved in intramural or club sports. I’ll bet they’re higher than the general population; I know it’s true that high school kids involved in extracurriculars — including sports — are more likely to stay in school and graduate.

  213. #213 Will Von Wizzlepig
    September 27, 2007

    Just thought I’d chime in…

    Grown-ups chasing after balls does not fall into any of these categories:

    biology

    evolution

    cephalopods

    Please don’t turn pharyngula into a bunch of people talking about what some overpaid ninny did or didn’t do.

    Please?

  214. #214 Rey Fox
    September 27, 2007

    Will: You bring up a very valid point, and one that shall address thusly:

    FOOBOW!

  215. #215 Ian
    September 27, 2007

    If this is not correct feel free to correct me. In rugby tackling above the waist is not permitted, nor is tackling any player who does not have the ball, so the risk of serious head injury from a 15 stone object hurling itself at your head is much lower.

    Re: the tackling thing, I thought that applies to rugby union and not rugby league.

    Another thing to consider is the way the forward pass affects gameplay. In football, it’s not uncommon for a receiver to stop running and turn around to catch a pass, allowing a defensive back to crash into him from behind at full speed. You don’t get caught flat footed nearly as often in rugby.

    For me (and its purely personal) I find Rugby Union preferable to American Football simply because the game flows more- there isn’t the continuous stopping and restarting every time something interesting happens.

    Whereas for a longtime fan of the NFL, that statement is roughly the same as saying “I don’t like chess because of all the breaks between the action”. Things don’t stop during the space between plays; that’s precisely where (much of) the real action is taking place.

  216. #216 Ian
    September 27, 2007

    Will clearly wasn’t READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL!

  217. #217 Rey Fox
    September 27, 2007

    “that I shall address thusly”

  218. #218 wildlifer
    September 27, 2007

    rhian quipped:

    No, really. It doesn’t matter whether or not it was intended as a joke. Why does being bad at football equate with being more female? Why is it so acceptable to draw that correlation that most people don’t even notice it? And why is “feminization” of men funny? It’s like saying “that’s so gay”, but even more blatant — because no one pretends it means anything different.

    Maybe you should re-read the OP? There wasn’t a single reference to “being bad at football equate[s] with being female.”
    Perhaps your knee-jerk got in the way, but the premise was losing decreases testosterone, which would cause Brees embarrassment in the locker room, (eg breasts). Nothing was stated about “feminization” effecting his play on the playing field.

  219. #219 windy
    September 27, 2007

    “Do they still do the “dressage” part of equestrian?” Yes, Pablo, they do. Dressage is an Olympic sport (and no, good dressage is not akin to watching paint dry!). And hey, just try doing a sport where your dance partner has four legs!

    Hear, hear. Also, dressage may be as dangerous as show jumping. No wonder these super X-treme sports are so popular with macho men little girls!

  220. #220 bernarda
    September 27, 2007

    Regardless of the disagreements on this thread, I must suppose Miss Katie is quite pleased with the enormous response.

    I say “bravo” to her.

  221. #221 Dave Godfrey
    September 27, 2007

    Ian-

    Tackles in Rugby League are from the chest down, as in Union you aren’t allowed to go for the head. I do take your point about forward passes affecting tackles too.

    As for not appreciating the stops between play, I guess that comes down to not having enough understanding of the tactical aspects of the game.

  222. #222 windy
    September 27, 2007

    According to evolutionary psychologist David M, Buss, it is a well-documented phenomenon that testosterone levels in males fluctuate with the outcome of sporting events.

    What about females?

    According to this summary,

    In female athletes, testosterone rises in anticipation of competition more in women than it does in men, researchers say.

    but:

    In female athletes, testosterone is unrelated to winning and losing whereas when male athletes win, their testosterone goes up and when they lose, it goes down. With respect to cortisol, another hormone that mobilizes resources for competition, female athletes experience lower cortisol levels when they win than they do when they lose, the researchers said.

    If whats-his-name did get magically girlified, he should actually be able to hold on to his remaining testosterone better.

  223. #223 Keniya
    September 27, 2007

    Please don’t turn pharyngula into a bunch of people talking about what some overpaid ninny did or didn’t do.

    You mean we can’t talk about politics anymore?

  224. #224 Barn Owl
    September 27, 2007

    #211-

    Just thought I’d chime in…
    Grown-ups chasing after balls does not fall into any of these categories:
    biology
    evolution
    cephalopods

    Errrr…from the top, the categories of posts on this page:

    Communicating science (aka “blogdoggle”)
    Religion
    Tangled Bank
    Creationism
    Creationism
    Creationism
    Creationism
    Creationism
    Creationism
    Neurobiology (aka fantasy football, or sports fan smackdown)
    Communicating science (aka “blogdoggle”)
    Administrative
    Religion
    Godlessness
    Godlessness

    Creationism is not biology, nor is it evolution; same for religion and godlessness, of course. No suckerball or tentacle tag or siphon racing in the “Neurobiology/Sports” post, so it can’t be about cephalopods.

    Not complainin’, just sayin’….

  225. #225 biopsych prof
    September 27, 2007

    One straightforward question for neuroanatomical discussion might be why Everett, after injury at the C3/C4 level, was initially paralyzed from the neck down, yet retained touch sensation over much of his body.

    From way back in post #8, an interesting question about neuroanatomy. Because of the Bell-Magendie law (motor information leaves the spinal cord ventrally; sensory information enters dorsally) it is theoretically possible to damage motor systems without losing tactile information.

  226. #226 Barn Owl
    September 27, 2007

    biopsych prof @ #223-

    I was thinking that the football injury question would make a good case study for the medical neuroscience course in which I teach. Dorsal column tracts carrying discriminative touch and conscious proprioception were apparently spared in Everett’s case, while descending motor corticospinal tracts were damaged or affected by the injury (AFAIK, displacement of vertebral bodies C3/C4).

    Kind of the opposite situation from tabes dorsalis, I guess.

    See, I *tried* to stick to neurobiology…. 😉

  227. #227 rhian
    September 27, 2007

    wildlifer:

    You’re right, I did read the original post a little too fast. (Sorry, Katie.) But still–the correlation (if not causative) of bad athletes with girls is overused. It can’t help but allude to a lot of offensive ideas, no matter how innocuous this one may be.

    And my statement still unfortunately holds true for several of the comments, which are mostly what I was reacting to in the first place.

  228. #228 Mike
    September 27, 2007

    All the chat about which sport is superior to the others reminded me of the talk about people’s religion being primarily determined by parental upbringing.
    Any sport/game can be enjoyable if you put a little effort into understanding it..
    Except cricket.. what the hell is THAT about??

  229. #229 Katie
    September 28, 2007

    Barn Owl- Where does spinal shock fit in with all this? And I’m getting concerned about your medical school advice. Was this post too inappropriate? Could it keep me out?

  230. #230 Kseniya
    September 28, 2007

    Except cricket.. what the hell is THAT about??

    The truth about cricket may be found in the collected works of the late Douglas Adams.

  231. #231 Barn Owl
    September 28, 2007

    Katie @ #227-

    Spinal shock refers to the initial (and paradoxical) flaccid muscle tone and absence of deep tendon/muscle stretch reflexes, following acute damage to descending motor pathways (e.g. the spinal cord injury sustained by Kevin Everett). Chronic or subacute lesions remove inhibitory input, and so exaggerated reflexes and increased muscle tone are observed. The molecular mechanisms of spinal shock aren’t well understood AFAIK, but I’ve seen suggestions that the sudden loss of descending input somehow decreases the excitability of alpha motor neurons.

    I certainly don’t want to make a big deal about your post on your professor’s blog and your application to medical school, but I can perhaps use it to construct a small cautionary tale as follows:
    If you were genuinely interested in neurobiology as applied to medicine, and in CNS injuries and the phenomenon of spinal shock, *and* you happen to have a strong interest in football or other sports as well (which is perfectly fine, no criticism there), then your post topic should have been Kevin Everett’s injury and recovery prospects, or a similar case. Whingeing about your fantasy football quarterback, and throwing in a line about Hurricane Katrina (which could seem flippant or insensitive), give the impression that you’re insincere, and potentially self-involved. Those two impressions are the kiss of death, in the context of our medical school admissions committee.

    Again, I’m using just the perspective of the medical school admissions process with which I have direct experience; our medical school is solidly middle-tier, and tasked with providing physicians for a diverse, and in many cases indigent, patient population. For all I know, you could be destined for an MD/PhD program at a top research institute, in which case the committee may focus on MCATs, grades, and research experience.

  232. #232 Bill Dauphin
    September 28, 2007

    Barn Owl, are you suggesting that med schools will search the “series of tubes” for any hint of insincerity or self-interest in an applicant’s past? Because, failing that sort of exhaustive investigation, I’m willing to bet Katie understands the difference in tone between a blog posting — where snark and flippancy have a certain positive social value — and the med school (or graduate school) application process. I’m jus’ sayin’…

  233. #233 Bill Dauphin
    September 28, 2007

    The truth about cricket may be found in the collected works of the late Douglas Adams.

    I recall reading a Sports Illustrated essay called “Making a Pitch for Cricket” by the novelist John Fowles. I remember it as great writing, and a fascinating introduction to the game… but it’s been over 30 years since I read it, and I can’t find the text on teh internets.

  234. #234 Barn Owl
    September 28, 2007

    Bill Dauphin @ #231-

    Barn Owl, are you suggesting that med schools will search the “series of tubes” for any hint of insincerity or self-interest in an applicant’s past?

    No, I’m not saying that at all-you seem to be taking my post to an illogical extreme. I thought I was pretty clear about indicating that my little cautionary tale example was a contrived one. But a search of Teh Interwebz is likely to occur if there are inconsistencies in an application, or if the essays or interviews raise red flags of some variety (the applicant constantly refers to self or seems arrogant, the hours devoted to different activities seem exaggerated, the applicant can’t answer questions about claimed activities and interests, etc.). It’s not common, but it happens.

    If a medical school applicant claims to have a desire to work with indigent populations in developing countries, or to work in an underserved community, or to devote her or his career to helping others, then I expect her or him to prove it. If the applicant uses the Hurricane Katrina debacle as an example of healthcare disparities and the need for improved disaster responses, then I’d hope that she or he had contributed in some meaningful way to post-Katrina relief projects. Did you provide first aid and comfort at one of the evacuation sites? Did you help clean or rebuild houses in flooded sections of New Orleans or the Gulf Coast? Did you collect or deliver necessities to Katrina survivors, train or handle cadaver dogs to find victims, help separated family members find their loved ones? Tell me about it then…I’m genuinely interested, because if you’re a good medical school candidate and promising future physician, then you’re so much more than your application, grades, and MCAT. Being less than your application is definitely a red flag, of course.

  235. #235 Donny
    October 1, 2007

    Norv Turner has no business as an NFL head coach.

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