TIME swimming

Michael Phelps to Seek Help Following DUI Arrest

SWIM-PANPACS-AUS-USA
Michael Phelps of the US reacts following the men's 100 m butterfly heat at the Gold Coast Aquatic Centre on the Gold Coast on Aug. 23, 2014. Patrick Hamilton—AFP/Getty Images

"I’m going to take some time away to attend a program that will provide the help I need to better understand myself"

Olympic gold medalist and swimmer Michael Phelps announced he would be seeking professional help following a DUI arrest last week.

“I’m going to take some time away to attend a program that will provide the help I need to better understand myself,” the 29-year-old swimmer tweeted on Sunday.

Phelps’ blood-alcohol level was reportedly double the legal limit last Tuesday when he was pulled over after being caught driving 84 mph in a Maryland tunnel with a 45 mph speed limit. Phelps, who authorities say was cooperative during the incident, failed two sobriety tests and gave up on a third. He told police “that’s not happening” when he was asked to attempt standing on one leg.

Later that day, Phelps tweeted a multi-part apology that said he understood “the severity of [his] actions” and was “deeply sorry to everyone [he] let down,”

Phelps was previously charged with a DUI in 2004 after he ran a stop sign.

Phelps has earned 22 Olympic medals, including eight gold medals at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and four gold medals in the 2012 London Games. Phelps has not confirmed his participation in the Rio Games in 2016.

TIME Pictures of the Week

Pictures of the Week: Sept. 26 – Oct. 3

From growing protests in Hong Kong and an intruder at the White House, to child jockeys in Indonesia and George Clooney’s wedding, TIME presents the best pictures of the week.

TIME Football

Another High School Football Player Dies After Injury

Equipment sits on a football practice field near the main entrance for Shoreham-Wading River High School on Oct. 2, 2014, in Shoreham, N.Y.
Equipment sits on a football practice field near the main entrance for Shoreham-Wading River High School on Oct. 2, 2014, in Shoreham, N.Y. Kathy Kmonicek—AP

Tom Cutinella, 16, collapsed after a collision in a game. He's the third high school football player to die in a week

Tragedy has struck a high school football field — again. Tom Cutinella, a 16-year-old junior from Shoreham-Wading River High School in Suffolk County, N.Y., died after suffering an injury in Wednesday’s game between Shoreham-Wading River and John Glenn High School in Elwood, N.Y. Steven R. Cohen, superintendent of the Shoreham-Wading River Central School District, told reporters Cutinella’s fatal injury was the result of a “freak football play” where there was “typical contact.”

Cohen said Cutinella suffered a head injury; Newsday reported it occurred after he “blocked an opponent for a teammate.” School officials said Cutinella stood up after the play, then collapsed. The injury occurred at 6 p.m., police say: Cutinella was rushed to a hospital, and pronounced dead Wednesday night. The Suffolk County Medical Examiner’s office told TIME that it has yet to perform an autopsy on Cutinella. Daniel Holtzman, principal of Shoreham-Wading River High School, said Cutinella was nice, well-rounded, and an “amazing student.”

ESPN says that in the last week alone, three high school football players have died. One other death, like Cutinella’s, happened after a collision. The third player died after collapsing in pre-game warm-ups. As TIME noted in a recent cover story, eight people died playing football in 2013, according to the National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research at the University of North Carolina. That was the highest toll since 2001; all eight were high school players.

This latest incident is another stark reminder of the risks of high school football. Despite these deaths and heightened awareness of the dangers of concussions, high school football participation has held steady: it’s down just 1.12% since the 2007-2008 school year, according to the National Federation of State High School Associations. Participation for kids ages 6 to 12, however, has dropped 26.5% between 2007 and 2013, according to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association.

On Thursday afternoon, around 1,000 people gathered for a candlelight vigil in Cutinella’s honor at the Shoreham-Wading River field. As Newsday describes it:

Cutinella’s No. 54 was up in lights on the scoreboard, and at the 50-yard line white candlelights were set up to form the number of the linebacker and guard…When his Wildcats teammates lined up as if for a football play, they left a spot empty for Cutinella, 16, and players began talking about the student they admired.

“He always went out of his way to make you smile,” one player said.

 

TIME world series

Watch Never-Before-Seen Footage of the 1924 World Series

The Library of Congress released surprisingly well-kept nitrate film of the Washington-New York game

Baseball fans for the first time can now get a glimpse of the 1924 World Series.

The Library of Congress recently released footage of the matchup between that era’s D.C. and NYC teams–then the Washington Senators and New York Giants–in which the Senators won 4-3 in extra innings.

Eight reels of footage, including the one containing these shots of the 1924 World Series, were found in the rafters of a Massachusetts garage after being stored there for nearly 90 years. The canisters were sent to the Library of Congress for conservation, and archivists were shocked when they realized what they had landed on, as there are no other known pieces of video of the 1924 World Series in existence.

The nitrate film’s surprisingly good quality is practically a miracle. Nitrate film is known for being sensitive to its environment, and often doesn’t keep well when stored in non-optimal conditions.

The Library of Congress said in a statement that it was merely a coincidence that this footage was found right before the Washington Nationals take on the San Francisco Giants in the National League Division Series.

TIME Football

NFL Player Launches Viral Campaign to Support Domestic Abuse Survivors

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson challenges fellow sports stars to "Pass the Peace"

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson has launched a charity foundation to raise money for worthy causes, kicking it off with a viral campaign aimed at getting fans to raise money in support of domestic violence victims.

The ‘Why Not You’ Foundation will raise funds for a number of causes, among them domestic abuse — an issue currently under scrutiny by the National Football League, in light of criticism of its handling of Ray Rice, the Baltimore player who was caught on tape knocking his future wife unconscious.

In the video, Wilson nominates Derek Jeter and Justin Timberlake to “Pass the Peace,” which means they have to donate $2 to the National Domestic Violence Hotline and nominate two friends to help spread the word.

Wilson also addressed violence in the NFL Thursday in an op-ed in the newly launched Players Tribune, Derek Jeter’s new publishing platform. Wilson, who is the site’s first Senior Editor, writes that he was a bully growing up, until he realized the error of his ways. He also called for his fellow NFL players to keep the violence off the field.

As NFL players, we do not play a gentle game. But our hits, our anger, our aggressive behaviors need to be regulated and confined to the field. Recent incidents of domestic violence have forced The League, its fans and the players to take a hard look into our collective conscience. To be honest, many NFL players are reluctant to address such a sensitive issue. How do you fix a problem so big and complex? How do you speak about something so damaging and painful to families?

Wilson’s launch coincides with the start of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

 

 

TIME Football

Long Island High Schooler Dies After Football Collision

Tom Cutinella is the third high school football player to have died in recent days.

A Long Island high school junior died late Wednesday after colliding with an opponent in a varsity football game.

Tom Cutinella, a junior at Shoreham-Wading River High School who plays guard/linebacker on the school’s football team, was pronounced dead after sustaining a head injury in the third quarter of the afternoon game, Newsday reports.

Cutinella was hospitalized after the hit and placed in the intensive-care unit after undergoing surgery. His death came as a shock to the community and to the 60 friends, relatives and teammates waiting in the hospital, Newsday reports.

“We’re a small community and we’re all devastated,” Jack Costas, a member of the Shoreham-Wading River school board told Newsday. “It’s always tragic when someone so young and so full of life has their life ended. It’s going to be a very, very difficult road ahead from this.”

The risks of injury and death in football have come under increasing scrutiny in the wake of tragic deaths of high school football players and growing evidence that the game can have long-term effects on professional players. Two other high school student players have died of potentially football-related injuries since Friday, according to ESPN.

[Newsday]

TIME Athletes

Dull Derek Jeter’s New Site Could Actually Be Cool

New York Yankees v Boston Red Sox
Derek Jeter speaks to the media following his last career game against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on September 28, 2014 in Boston. Jim Rogash—Getty Images

That didn't take long. Three days into retirement, the Yankee great launches a media business. Here's hoping it's more interesting than he's been.

Oh, so that was it. For 20 years, Derek Jeter was one of the most boring athlete interviews in history. We now know why: he was apparently saving the good stuff for retirement — and he’d like to make a little money off it to boot.

Just three days into his post-baseball life, Jeter has stolen some attention from this year’s postseason with the announcement that he’s now the “founding publisher” of a new website, The Players’ Tribune. The conceit: a site where athletes can connect directly with fans, unfiltered, presumably at more than the 140 characters than Twitter currently offers.

“The Players’ Tribune aims to provide unique insight into the daily sports conversation and to publish first-person stories directly from athletes,” says a brief mission statement on the site. “From video to podcasts to player polls and written pieces, The Tribune will strive to be “The Voice of the Game.”

“I’m not a robot,” Jeter writes in an introductory note. So why did he often come across as one? “I realize I’ve been guarded. I learned early on in New York, the toughest media environment in sports, that just because a reporter asks you a question doesn’t mean you have to answer. I attribute much of my success in New York to my ability to understand and avoid unnecessary distractions. I do think fans deserve more than “no comments” or “I don’t knows.” Those simple answers have always stemmed from a genuine concern that any statement, any opinion or detail, might be distorted. I have a unique perspective. Many of you saw me after that final home game, when the enormity of the moment hit me . . . We all have emotions. We just need to be sure our thoughts will come across the way we intend.”

The irony of Derek Jeter, distruster of media, starting a media business is outright comical. (My colleague Jack Dickey nails it here on Twitter). Jeter’s pitch is that the site has “no filter.” But don’t expect real honesty here. Twitter already works too well for that. The reason athletes tend to spout their true feelings — which they often wind up regretting — on Twitter is that Twitter doesn’t give people time to think. The whole operation — the 140-character limits, the endless chatter on your timeline — thrives on quick outbursts. Athletes aren’t going to thoughtfully air grievances with teammates on Derek Jeter’s website, which will apparently be staffed with editors. The editorial process will slow things down, and discourage spontaneity. It gives publicists time to get involved. Readers don’t want glorified press releases.

A certain type of story, however, does offer a win-win proposition to both athletes and fans. Athletes like talking about their craft. And sports geeks like reading about it. If Derek Jeter offers deep insight into how he pulled off all those jump throws, for example, that’s safe stuff for him — nothing remotely controversial about it. And readers benefit. Baseball lovers would eat it up. Parents can share Jeter’s tips with their kids.

(Quick: what are the two most-viewed video clips on TIME’s YouTube channel? Number one — by over a million views — Kobe Bryant offering hoops tips. Number two: Novak Djokovic explaining his serve and giving other insights on his game.)

So I, for one, look forward to seeing what Jeter cooks up. And if it takes a boring athlete to make an athlete-bylined website compelling, so be it. And who isn’t ready for more Jeter right now anyway?

TIME NFL

FCC Could Punish Broadcasters Who Say ‘Redskins’

Redskins Cowboys Football
Aaron M. Sprecher—AP

"There are a lot of names and descriptions that were used over time that are inappropriate today"

The Federal Communications Commission will consider punishing broadcasters for using the Washington Redskins‘ nickname on air, FCC chairman Tom Wheeler said during a conference call with reporters, according to Reuters.

Legal activist John Banzhaf III, a law professor at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., petitioned the FCC to revoke a Washington radio station’s broadcast license due to its repeated use of the nickname.

Wheeler said his organization will “be looking into that petition.”

“There are a lot of names and descriptions that were used over time that are inappropriate today,” Wheeler added, according to Reuters. “And I think the name that is attributed to the Washington football club is one of those.”

Native American chief urges boycott of FedEx over ‘Redskins’ name​

In June, the franchise had its trademark revoked on the grounds that it was “disparaging to Native Americans.”

An SI poll earlier this month found that only 25 percent of fans thought the name should be changed.

CBS broadcaster Phil Simms told SI.com earlier this month he would try not to use the name while broadcasting Washington’s game against the Giants in Week 4.

South Park takes on the Washington Redskins’ nickname controversy​

A senator from Washington state also announced she would introduce legislation to strip the NFL of its tax-exempt status as a response to the league’s support of the nickname.

Washington owner Dan Snyder infamously told USA Today in 2013, “We’ll never change the name. It’s that simple. NEVER — you can use caps.”

This article originally appeared on SI.com

TIME NFL

Are NFL Head Injuries Causing Domestic Violence?

Jovan Belcher, in September 2012.
Jovan Belcher, in September 2012. Kansas City Star—MCT/Getty Images

A report shows that Jovan Belcher, who killed his girlfriend before taking his own life in 2012, probably had football-related brain trauma. A link between the NFL's most troubling issues is far from implausible

Another football “what if” was just answered. In December 2012, after Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher shot and killed his girlfriend before fatally shooting himself in the head in the team parking lot, you couldn’t help but wonder: could head injuries associated with football have contributed to this horrible act? Aggression and lack of impulse control are known symptoms of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a brain disease that had ravaged the brains of over 30 deceased NFL players. A few of them had committed suicide.

Still, you had to approach the question gently, because casually linking the game to Belcher’s actions was irresponsible. Belcher also had “no long concussion history,” the Chiefs said at the time. There was no evidence that he had brain damage.

Until now. Far too often over the past few years, football’s worst fears are confirmed. According to a neuropathological report prepared in the wrongful death lawsuit that lawyers for Belcher’s daughter have filed against the Chiefs, Belcher’s brain showed signs of damage “fully consistent with the pathological presentation of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) as it is reported in the medical literature.” For example, the research — conducted by Dr. Piotr Kozlowski, dean of research and professor of pathology at the Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine in New York City — says that Belcher had clumps of tau protein in “the 7 out of 7 sections of the right (4 sections) and the left (3 sections) of the hippocampi.” A buildup of abnormal tau levels can cause nerve cell damage in the brain.

Belcher’s body was exhumed a year after his death; his brain showed “severe decomposition,” according to the report. Researchers can only diagnose CTE posthumously. “The quality and quantity are compromised because there was some breakdown of the brain after death and due to the gunshot,” says Dr. Sam Gandy, director of the Mount Sinai Center for Cognitive Health and NFL Neurological Center, who examined Kozlowski’s report at TIME’s request. “But I don’t see any reason to doubt this reading of CTE.”

Belcher is not the first athlete with signs of CTE to act violently. Chris Benoit, a former pro wrestler, killed his wife and son before committing suicide in 2007. The family of Paul Oliver, a former safety for the San Diego Chargers and New Orleans Saints, sued the NFL, the Chargers, the Saints and several helmet manufacturers after Oliver’s 2013 suicide. In an upcoming episode of HBO’s Real Sports, Oliver’s wife Chelsea talks about how her husband abused her. She says he pushed her, kicked her, pulled her hair, and threw her against the wall. One time, she says he dragged her up and down stairs. HBO asked Chelsea if she felt like her life was in jeopardy. “As time went on, I starting thinking about that, yes,” she said. Both Oliver and Benoit had CTE.

After these tragedies, all “what ifs” are on the table. It’s more than fair to ask if the NFL’s two most troubling issues, domestic violence and head trauma, are linked.”You can’t say those brown spots on Jovan Belcher’s brain caused him to do what he did,” says Dr. Julian Bailes, chairman of the department of neurosurgery at the NorthShore University HealthSystem outside of Chicago, who has extensively studied football brain injuries. “But are those brown spots tell-tale signs of a brain injury that influences behavior? With every case like this, we keep upping the ante.”

Even if players haven’t fully developed CTE, or haven’t suffered obvious concussions, they still may be at risk. “The frontal lobe of the brain often jostles around during head contact in football games,” says Gandy. “And the frontal lobe has an inhibiting effect that helps control behavior. Damage to the frontal lobe can compromise the inhibiting effect, and cause mood swings, even violence. You simply can’t exclude the possibility that frontal lobe damage is linked to damaging behavior.”

Scientists are starting to identifying possible ways to spot at-risk players while they’re still alive. Gandy injected a radioactive chemical that sticks to tau into a former NFL player who has suffered cognitive decline: a PET scan picked up the tau buildup, showing pathology consistent with CTE. “We’re still early in our experience, but at a minimum, we can signal to people that they might clinically be showing signs of CTE,” Gandy says. His team just published this neuroimaging technique in the journal Translational Psychiatry.

Bailes has also been working on a PET scanning method to spot CTE in living patients, in conjunction with UCLA researchers. He anticipates expanding it to NorthShore. “While it’s been rewarding to do work on tau,” says Bailes, “it’s gets a little tiring diagnosing patients when they’re already dead.”

 

TIME Developmental Disorders

Study: 96% of Deceased NFL Players’ Brains Had Degenerative Disease

The seal affixed to the front of the Department of Veterans Affairs building in Washington on June 21, 2013.
The seal affixed to the front of the Department of Veterans Affairs building in Washington on June 21, 2013. Charles Dharapak—AP

The brain bank's research furthers the argument that football is linked brain injury

The brains of 76 out of 79 (96%) of deceased NFL players showed signs of a degenerative brain disease, according to a study released Tuesday by the nation’s largest brain bank.

The Department of Veterans Affairs’ brain repository in Massachusetts, a collaboration between VA and Boston University’s CTE Center, found that the instance of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a brain condition that causes dementia and other cognitive problems, was so high that it doubled the number of CTE cases previously reported by the institution, PBS reported.

“Obviously this high percentage of living individuals is not suffering from CTE,” Dr. Ann McKee, the brain bank’s director, told PBS. “Playing football, and the higher the level you play football and the longer you play football, the higher your risk.”

Doctors at the brain repository have previously conducted research on brain tissue samples from professional, semi-professional, college and high-school football players. The rate of CTE, while lower than 96%, still remained high, at 80%.

The studies were made possible by football players who volunteered their brains for scientific research, because CTE can only be diagnosed posthumously, according to PBS. As a result, doctors who conducted the study said their sample may be skewed, as many volunteers donated their brains because when they were alive, they already suspected that they suffered from CTE.

Still, the findings have added fuel to heated discussions that football—both at professional and lower levels—may be linked to degenerative brain diseases like Alzheimer’s, as a recent study showed. The NFL has also come under fire for allegedly covering up the risks of head injuries and concussions, which are linked to individuals who suffer from CTE.

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