Your Kid’s Not Going Pro

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Michael Lewis whines about getting his moneyballs snipped

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And to the division of Your Kid’s Not Going Pro dedicated to them not doing so because Your Kid’s Never Existing.

USA Today health columnist Kim Painter notes various doctors talking about the tough image of the vasectomy. Tough, in that many men shiver at the thought of issuing a plant closing notice to their vas deferens. Although, according to Painter’s column, the tough economy is causing more men to decide to shut down sperm production like they were GM.

Part of the image problem, Painter notes, is a recent essay by Michael Lewis, in a book called Home Game: An Accidental Guide to Fatherhood, another book Joe Morgan won’t read. (With that title, the book should have been written by Desmond Hatchett.) The essay is about Lewis’ vasectomy, which appeared in the Guardian newspaper in the UK. The essay, not the vasectomy.

Even taking into account Lewis’ tongue-in-cheek account of the perils of parenthood (something Louis CK does far more uncomfortably and hilariously), he (and a few of his friends) comes off as a bit of prick, no pun intended:

The time had come for Daddy to take one for the team.

… Now, with the doctor’s scalpel just minutes away, it was drowned out by a new sound, of a grown man screaming: “They’re going to cut a hole in my johnson!”

I mean, why am I really here, stretched out and hairless and exposed and not knowing what to say to the mute lady scraping away south of the border? What’s the meaning of this outrage? This operation wasn’t about birth control. It was about life control.

I should have fought for my reproductive rights, like other men. A friend of mine, when his wife suggested he might go and get himself gelded, had just laughed and said, “What if I want a trophy wife one day?” Another had declined his wife’s invitation to a beheading by saying, “What if you and the kids go down in a plane crash?” Other men I knew refused the operation on the grounds of rumours they had heard about the side effects.

“I have a friend who had it done and he couldn’t feel his dick for 10 months,” a guy at a dinner party told me knowledgeably. “After that I said no way.” …

I rose from the table, and wobbled. Glued by sweat to my backside, from neck to thigh, was a paper bedsheet that came away only in strips and patches as I picked at it. I stepped into my trousers, hobbled to my car, and drove myself home. A hero to my wife. A traitor to my sex.

A traitor to your sex? As a male, I don’t care of others are getting cut, not getting cut, or going the full eunuch.

I’m speaking as a man who has gone under the ol’ slice-and-dice. My wife and I talked about me doing it after our third child, and in fact I had an appointment scheduled. But some conflicts arose, and somehow I never got around to re-scheduling. After we had our fourth child, I got around to it.

I understand a lot of men are squeamish about getting a vasectomy, although after watching my wife give birth four times I was pretty sure any pain I felt was going to be extremely, extremely minor in comparison. Plus,  I was looking forward to the surgery because that would allow me to watch sports and play video games all weekend so I could “recover.” You know you’re a busy, veteran parent when you look forward to illness or injury because you know it’s the only way you’ll ever get a break.

It probably helped that unlike Lewis’ friends, mine were enthusiastic in extolling the virtues of the vasectomy. One friend explained it to me, appropriately enough, as we were in another junk-related situation, standing in line for the men’s room at halftime, inappropriately enough, at a Notre Dame football game under the watchful eye of anti-birth control Touchdown Jesus. As my friend put it, the greatest thing about the vasectomy is the freedom of knowing when you’re having sex, you’re just having sex — no sweating whether you’ve got another kid on the way. (This is the same instinct that has single douchebags getting snipped so the only thing they’ll come away with after an encounter is VD.)

Before I got the surgery, I had the requisite counseling session with the urologist. He noted that I would be given a low-grade Valium the morning of the surgery. I asked, why do you do that? “To help you relax. A lot of men get nervous. Some throw up.” I bet those are the moments that doctor regrets choosing urology.

My surgery went without a hitch, and with just a few stiches. The pain wasn’t even all that bad. And I got my weekend retreat.

So to men like Lewis and his buddies, I say, when it comes to getting a vasectomy: Sack up.

Written by rkcookjr

June 15, 2009 at 6:54 am

Ain’t that a kick in the head

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If you’ve been watching the Detroit Red Wings-Chicago Blackhawks NHL Western Conference final series, your teeth might still be rattling over the hit Detroit’s Niklas Kronwall put on the Hawks’ Martin (or as everyone in Chicago calls him, Marty, because 90 percent of Chicago males are named either Marty or Mike) Havlat in game three. It’s why they coach hockey players to keep their heads up, lest you lose yours.

Havlat suffered a concussion (as far as we can guess, because the NHL won’t say). He was out cold for at least two minutes. And yet Chicago’s leading scorer suited up for game four. Concussion specialist Michael Czarnota, the neuropsychology consultant for the Canadian Hockey League, told he was “shocked” to see Havlat back.

But he shouldn’t have been surprised. It’s endemic in all levels of hockey, the sports Czarnota points to as having the most concussions, to have players come back after what is more than getting your bell rung — it’s a serious brain injury.

On May 27, three days after Havlat’s post-concussive return, a study by a Toronto physician found that youth coaches, parents and players knew little about concussions, including whether it is a good idea to return to the ice soon after having one. (The right answer: no.) Among the study’s findings, which I’ve taken from a press release:

Up to two-thirds of players had the mistaken impression that a player does not have to lose consciousness to have suffered a concussion. One quarter of adults and up to half of children could not identify any symptoms of a concussion or could name only one symptom of a concussion. About one-half of players and one-fifth of adults mistakenly believed concussions are treated with medication or physical therapy. About one-quarter of all players did not know if an athlete experiencing symptoms of a concussion should continue playing.

The study also found that in Canada, hockey players ages 5-17 “have about 2.8 concussions per 1,000 player-hours of ice hockey while university and elite amateur players sustain rates of 4.2 and 6.6 concussions per 1,000 player hours.”

The study was released only two weeks after Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire signed a bill requiring any youth showing signs of a concussion to get clearance from a medical professional before playing again. That was inspired by Zackery Lystedt, who at 13 suffered a hard hit in a football game, went back in, and then was hit a second time and put into a coma for 30 days.

The Toronto study also was released the same day USA Today ran a story about former NHL star Keith Primeau pledging (along with 120 athletes) to donate his brain after his death to a medical study looking at chronic traumatic encephalopathy. That is a degenerative brain disease similar to Alzheimer’s, found in people who have had multiple concussions. Primeau warned of the risks of concussions — to the point he won’t let his kids play football:

Concussions can be very hard to detect since not everyone passes out. Nausea, blurry vision and confusion are other symptoms. Within the past several years, increased awareness about concussions and “post-concussion syndrome” has led most professional and college teams to start using computer-based programs that measure attention, memory, processing speed and reaction time to one-hundredth of a second.

It is too costly for most high schools and youth programs, where it could help coaches and trainers identify problems and sideline players. Concussions account for almost one in 10 sports injuries for people ages 15 to 24, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Yet nearly 41% of high school athletes return to action too soon after concussions.

Primeau endured a career of blows to his head but adds that he won’t forget one that knocked him out:

“I spent the night in the hospital, flew the next day and was back in the lineup that day. That was the beginning of my demise.”

He now knows resting — and not playing until the concussion is healed — can help prevent long-term damage. He has started to use tests to determine if his athletes have concussions and has made decisions to keep kids off the ice.

“I can tell when a child has suffered a concussion,” he says. “I do not put them back on the ice. I’ve told parents I’m not putting their child back in. And I’ve actually had instances where parents will want to go in a different direction and the kids will go out on the ice and get sick.”

And other times, players are not honest. That was true of Primeau’s oldest son, Correy, who plays club-level hockey for Neumann College in Aston, Pa., and respects his father’s concerns.

“I played once with a concussion last year,” Correy says. “I wouldn’t do it again. I had trouble afterward for about a week, but I just didn’t want to let my team down at the time.”

As for Martin Havlat, who left game four after eight minutes when he took another hard hit, other hockey players are saying he was crazy — and a bad influence — for suiting up again. From the Toronto Globe and Mail:

Under the NHL’s absurd don’t-ask/don’t-tell policy governing injury disclosure in the postseason, no one will say for sure if Havlat was concussed. So it was left for media voices to speculate. Speaking on The Fan 590 in Toronto, former NHL defenceman Jeff Beukeboom– whose career was ended by severe post-concussion symptoms– decried Havlat’s rapid return.

“I think it sets a very bad example for the kids,” said Beukeboom, who feels players will be vulnerable to coercion by teams if there’s the false impression of a quick remedy after a concussion.

TSN’s Bob McKenzie– whose son has battled post-concussion syndrome from a hockey incident– was vocal on both radio and TV questioning … Havlat rushing back into play.

“The seven-day rule is actually from when the athlete is symptom-free,” McKenzie [said]. “But if he has a headache for three days after being hit, he’s supposed to wait seven days from the time he was symptom-free, not from when he was hit in the head.

“All of this is aimed at protecting the brain, which doesn’t respond well to second impact. In fact, there’s a condition called, I think, second-impact syndrome. If a concussed athlete, say Havlat, goes back into game action when his brain is concussed, if the brain gets a second contact directly on the same part of the brain, death can be instantaneous.”

Expect the debate to continue in the media so long as the NHL remains in denial about head shots.

Until it hurts… not so much

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cover-of-until-it-hurts1Great news! According to a study published in the online version of the medical journal Pediatrics, the number of youth baseball-related injuries reported by the nation’s hospital emergency departments dropped 24.9 percent between 1994 and 2006. The study’s authors said better safety equipment — helmets, mouth guards, breakaway bases — have gone a long way toward reducing the injury rate.

Bad news! According to that same study, the decrease also could be because there are more options than the hospital emergency room these days. For example, when my son hurt himself playing basketball, I took him to an urgent care center, not the hospital. Those visits would not show up in the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, the source data for the Pediatrics study. Also, overuse injuries are not the most likely to show up in the emergency department.

Still, even if the numbers aren’t 100 percent surefire, they’re still interesting. Your kid’s most likely injury, if you’re taking him to the hospital emergency room: soft tissue damage (mostly, meaning bruising) to the face (13.2 percent) and lacerations (cuts) to the face (also, 13.2 percent). Basically, getting hit in the face with a ball is the biggest injury problem. It’s a strong argument for masks on batting helmets, and masks for pitchers, first base and third base, the kind you see softball players wearing. Being hit the ball results in 46 percent of all injuries recorded in the study, while being hit by the bat is next at 24.9 percent. Getting injured while sliding ranked third, at 9.6 percent, but it ranked first, at 30.9 percent, for cause of fractures, a rate weighted by the higher incidence of sliding injuries among those 13 to 17.

The study itself notes the criticism of NEISS data because it doesn’t track much of anything beyond age of player and injury — no notes on days missed playing, or whether it was in a league or casual game, or what position a player was on the field when the injury occurred. The NEISS, and study, doesn’t track whether an injury was caused by overuse. So the study is mostly just an interesting little read. But it still gives a few clues into how and why kids get hurt, and what adults can do to lessen those chances while keeping the game loose and fun.

And this little piggie stayed home

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The Your Kid’s Not Going Pro emergency alert center reports the following athletic cancellations as a result of H1N1 — oh, forget it, you’re all gonna call it swine flu no matter what authorities say. (NOTE: I am adding to this list and alphabetizing by state rather than creating new posts every team a school or organization cancels sports.)

EDIT: On the Pitch has some great practical resources for handling the swine flu scare. Its advice is targeted toward soccer leagues. But the lessons — including handling communication with parents — are valuable for any kind of league and coach.

ALABAMA HIGH SCHOOL ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION All events postponed until further notice. Events postponed until May 5.

MADISON COUNTY, ALABAMA — All children’s activities, including T-ball practices and games, in county parks canceled until May 4.

BRANHAM HIGH SCHOOL, CALIFORNIAAll events canceled through May 6.

INDIO HIGH SCHOOL, CALIFORNIAAll events canceled through May 7.

All games and practices canceled through May 4, as well as a ban on outside groups using school facilities.

HOMER COMMUNITY CONSOLIDATED DISTRICT 33, ILLINOISAll afterschool activities in middle and elementary schools, including sports, canceled for May 1.

WABASH SCHOOL DISTRICT, INDIANAAll practices for Thurs., April 30, called off. Games still scheduled, unless rained out.

WOODHAVEN-BROWNSTOWN SCHOOLS, MICHIGAN — All after-school activites, including sports, canceled for Thurs., April 30, and possibly through the weekend.

BEMUS POINT SCHOOL DISTRICT, NEW YORKAll sports canceled through May 3.

All events canceled through May 1.

Schools and all sports activities canceled through May 4.

ST. FRANCIS PREP SCHOOL, NEW YORK — All events will go forward as scheduled, unless opponents are too scared of contracting swine flu to show up.

All events canceled through Friday.

MAULDIN HIGH SCHOOL, SOUTH CAROLINAAll activities, including games and practices, canceled on April 30 and May 1.

NEWBERRY COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT, SOUTH CAROLINAMost after-school activities, including sports, canceled through May 4.

MONTGOMERY BELL ACADEMY, TENNESSEEAll after-school activities, including sports, canceled through May 8.

THE CITY OF THE COLONY’S PARK AND RECREATIONS DEPARTMENT, TEXASAll youth league events at city facilities canceled through May 6.

CITY OF DENTON, TEXASAll league play and athletic programs including Denton Youth Soccer, Denton Boys Baseball and all field rental activities suspended through May 11.

CITY OF FORT WORTH, TEXASAll recreation center-hosted activities canceled until at least May 8..

CITY OF HIGHLAND VILLAGE, TEXASAll organized youth sports league games canceled from May 1-10.

All school district sporting events canceled through May 11.

TEXAS ASSOCIATION OF PRIVATE AND PAROCHIAL SCHOOLSRegion I-5A and 4A South Regional track meets scheduled for May 1 canceled.


SALT LAKE CITY CATHOLIC SCHOOLS, UTAHAll sports at Judge Memorial Catholic High School and Our Lady of Lourdes School canceled until May 5.

PARK CITY SCHOOLS, UTAHSchools and all sports activities closed through May 4.

CLOVER PARK SCHOOL DISTRICT, WASHINGTONLakewood High School sports activities canceled for May 1.

Further updates as events warrant. Please send any closing and cancellations to rkcookjr at, or through Twitter to @notgoingpro.

Written by rkcookjr

April 29, 2009 at 11:43 pm