Category Archives: Sports Illustrated

Dexcom G4 monitors blood sugar in diabetics—and could aid athletes

The black cellphone-sized device buzzed intently three times. 80 mg/dL, the screen urgently warned in bright red letters on a black background, LOW. Time to take a sip of Gatorade.

The insistent messenger in question is the Dexcom G4 Platinum handset, a simple looking gadget that has made a big difference in the lives of many diabetics. One of a handful of continuous glucose monitors on the market, the G4 allows people suffering from type 1 mellitus—as many as three million Americans, according to JDRF, an organization that campaigns for research funding to cure type 1—to keep constant track of their blood sugar levels.

“A lot of times with the [glucose] meter I was more reactive,” says Haley Ganser, 31, who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was 15, and has been using a CGM since 2012. “I would feel that my blood sugars were dropping and so I would test myself. Now because I have the Dexcom I can actually see ‘OK, I’m at a fine level now, but it looks like I’m starting to drop, so I should probably eat a little snack now, before I start to feel the effects of the low blood sugar.’ So I can catch things faster.”

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Rethinking concussions: Technology helping to broaden the picture

How do you solve a problem like concussions in sports? Fears over the short- and long-term health effects of head impacts in collision sports have already led to rule changes, lawsuits, and decreased youth participation in football and hockey. Last month, a scientific study turned the spotlight onto baseball, concluding that major league players returning to action after having suffered a concussion performed statistically worse at the plate. But can science or technology also find a way to fix this?

According to that baseball research, which was published in The American Journal of Sports Medicine, several batting metrics dropped significantly following a concussion-enforced break, including batting average (.249 to .227), on-base percentage (.315 to .287), and slugging percentage (.393 to .347). Those results made national news and were picked up by The New York Times, Reuters and Fox News. But reading between the numbers raises perhaps the biggest issue with concussions: We don’t know enough.

“I think it was a well-intentioned study,” says Uzma Samadani, an assistant professor of neurosurgery at NYU’s Langone Medical Center, and co-director of NYU’s Steven and Alexandra Cohen Veterans Center, “[but] I’m not convinced that the conclusions are sound. I think they’re overstated.”

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Sam vs. the Volcano: Sam Cossman’s journey 1,200 feet to a lake of lava

A couple of days before Christmas, Sam Cossman balanced precariously on a rock face 800 feet above one of the world’s seven permanent lava lakes, in the Marum crater on Ambrym island, Vanuatu, in the South Pacific. Dark was falling, but the orange light from the 2,000-degree molten rock below lit up the crater around him like perpetual sunset. The ActSafe powered rope ascender that was supposed to lift him and his 70 pounds of gear back up to basecamp was leaking fuel. All he could do was hug tightly to the rock wall and wait for tools and a new tank of gas to be brought down to him. Then it began to rain.

The sulfur dioxide in the air turned each falling drop into burning acid, and within moments the trickle of water down the rock face was replaced by a torrent. The ground above was mostly bare rock, so rainstorms quickly triggered flash flooding. As the water ran down the side of the crater it brought with it a hailstorm of loose rocks, before plunging into the lava below. When it hit the molten rock, thick, choking plumes of acidic steam rose back upwards.

Two days earlier, on his first descent of this expedition, Cossman had been hit hard by a falling rock. He’d lost his grip on the rope and been momentarily dazed, but luckily it had left no more than a painful bruise near his right collarbone. This time he might not be quite so fortunate. What the f— am I doing here? he thought.

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Signing Day spurs talk of impact players, sleepers and star ratings. Here’s what it all means, with an eye toward the next level

Who gets picked — How high school ratings relate to NFL draft results (2005 through ’09)

Draft Round 5 Stars (165) 4 Stars (1,536) 3 Stars (3,810) 2 Stars (6,015)
1 21 53 33 9
2 13 43 37 14
3 7 43 45 24
4 12 37 46 15
5 6 40 47 29
6 7 33 38 17
7 1 40 45 47
*Total Drafted 67 289 291 155

*Doesn’t include transfers

(full article published in Sports Illustrated, February 9, 2015)

Behind the NFL’s yellow first down line, and what’s next for sports TV

Everything started with a simple yellow line. On September 27, 1998, Sportvision debuted its yellow first down marker on the ESPN broadcast of the Week 4 game between the Ravens and Bengals. For the first time fans watching at home could see the exact moment the ball crossed the plane.

Sixteen years later, Sportvision can now weave almost anything into a football broadcast, from down and distance arrows to virtual video screens; it can even reveal the yard lines completely obscured by snow during winter games.

The chroma key and camera modeling technologies on which the yellow first down line was built, though, still lie deep at the heart of almost everything the company has brought to football since 1998. “That whole concept just blew everybody away,” says Mike Jakob, president of Sportvision. “It still remains one of the foundational [improvements] that we think enhance the viewing experience.”

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Fútbol fever in a World Cup year? Hah! Don’t tell that to John Oliver and Keith Olbermann. The hosts, respectively, of HBO’s Last Week Tonight and ESPN’s Olbermann each issued seething soccer screeds this year, Oliver ripping into the dark side of the Cup and Olbermann telling us how to Americanize the sport. Funny as those diatribes were, SI couldn’t help imagining the two going head-to-head on the sport. Here, a mash-up of their actual arguments.

KEITH OLBERMANN: I’d like to preface this by saying that I don’t care whether soccer succeeds or fails in this country.

JOHN OLIVER: In America, soccer is something you pick your 10-year-old daughter up from, but for everyone else, it’s a little more important.

(full article published in Sports Illustrated, December 22, 2014)

BSX introduces new level of athletic analysis tracking lactate threshold

Alison Kreideweis sat nervously on the edge of a treadmill at Finish Line Physical Therapy in New York City, on Dec. 1. She’d volunteered to help demo a new wearable device that measures an athlete’s lactate threshold, but slipping on the BSX Insight was the easy part—the device, which uses near-infrared light to measure blood oxygen levels in muscle, tucks into a compression sleeve worn on the calf. BSX Athletics president Dustin Freckleton wanted to compare the old and his new lactate threshold tests side-by-side, which meant drawing her blood at three-minute intervals as she ran.

“Do nerves play any part in this?” Kreideweis asked. “Affecting test results?”

An athlete’s lactate threshold is the pace or power they can achieve before lactic acid starts to build up in their muscles. This lactic acid is produced when muscle fibers can no longer get sufficient oxygen for aerobic respiration, and must generate their energy anaerobically. The build-up causes the burn felt in muscles when exercising at high intensity, and above the lactate threshold the athlete will begin to fatigue quickly.

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A teen from the Congo finds a new home on a South Bronx soccer team

Bakary Coulibaly was angry. His South Bronx United under-18 teammates already made fun of him, and now, at a New York Red Bulls clinic in summer 2013, one of the under-16 kids was teasing him, too, saying he wasn’t good at soccer. Bakary trained harder than anyone else, but still they taunted him.

He lashed out and hit the kid. Another under-16 boy jumped into the fight, and Tenzin Yeshay, assistant coach of Bakary’s team, had to step in to calm Bakary down. All three players were sent home.

When someone teased you in Mali, you fought back. That was how you earned respect. I want them to start listening to me. This is how they’ll listen to me, Bakary told SBU’s executive director Andrew So a few days later. So wanted to understand what had happened; Bakary was a quiet and respectful kid, not the type of player who would snap like that. Then Bakary got into another fight; this time with one of his teammates, Iyayi Imade.

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Ties between NFL, Mueller’s firm raise serious questions about investigation

On Sept. 9, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell hired former FBI Director Robert Mueller to run an independent investigation into the league’s handling of the Ray Rice affair. But independent is hardly the way to describe the probe, given the deep connections that exist between the NFL, Mueller’s law firm — WilmerHale — and Rice’s former team, the Baltimore Ravens. How deep do those bonds go? The president of the Ravens was a partner at the firm that became WilmerHale for 31 years.

On WilmerHale’s website the firm boasts that “our expansive alumni network includes many former WilmerHale attorneys who have moved on to highly respectable positions after leaving the firm — for example … in-house counsel for National Football League teams.” An article in The American Lawyer from February 2006 paints the law firm as a production line for sports executives, particularly in the NFL. The article is available on WilmerHale’s website.

Former WilmerHale lawyers who hold senior positions within the NFL front office or with NFL teams include the league’s finance counsel, Jay Bauman, and both the Browns president, Alec Scheiner, and executive vice president, Sashi Brown. Partner David Donovan also served as general counsel for the Washington Redskins from 2005 to ‘09, before returning to WilmerHale in ‘11.

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