Thursday, October 13, 2011

10 comments TMQ: If It Weren't For Football, More Boys Would Go to College?

Gregg Easterbrook shockingly revealed in his TMQ last week that he believes football games aren't decided by gods or because a team blows a lead, which is contrary to pretty much what he has claimed in the past, but football games are lost because the other team played well enough to come back. What other revelations can we learn from Gregg this week? Well...this week Gregg struggles with causation and correlation and seems to think football is causing boys to get behind in academics, so that is why more women are going to college in the United States. There's something thrown in there about concussions too since Gregg is contractually obliged to discuss concussions in every single TMQ.

There are times Gregg brings up issues other NFL writers don't talk about and he can have a pretty good, or at least debatable point, which he is trying to prove. This week I think Gregg sees fewer boys going to college and incorrectly places a correlation with boys playing football. I guess I just don't see as strong of a correlation as Gregg wants to see between these two issues.

Participation in prep football has increased 21 percent in the past 20 years, by nearly 200,000 boys per year, according to the National Federation of State High School Associations. Many states have begun to allow what is essentially year-round football practice. Youth-league tackle football is expanding. American boys are devoting more time and effort to football than ever before.

In higher education, student populations are increasingly female. Twenty years ago, there were more men in college than women. Now there are more women, and the ratio of college women to men is rising.

This is the basis for where Gregg comes to his conclusion that football is holding high school boys back from getting into college. I would initially counter this conclusion with saying you can't make kids care and if a kid doesn't get into college because he is so focused on football, then if football didn't exist that kid would have another reason he didn't get into college. So even if Gregg is correct for why boys aren't succeeding in going to college, which I don't believe he is, the underlying issue of the male student being focused on something other than academics would still be present.

Women are taking more of the available slots in college at the same time boys are spending more time playing football. Are these two facts related?

Probably not significantly.

Women are taking more of the available slots in college at the same time the American economy is struggling? Are these two facts related? Are women bad for the American economy?

The main force must be that girls as a group are doing very well in high school, making them attractive candidates for college. But perhaps the rising popularity of football is at the same time decreasing boys' chances of college admission.

I really, really don't think these two things are related in any way. Just to prove he has gone insane, Gregg then decides to throw concussions into the discussion. So boys are not getting into college because they are all playing football and getting concussions, which makes them dumber. So high school boys are not only lazy in regard to academics because of football, but even if they wanted to do well in high school, they could not due to concussions they receive while playing football prevents their academic success. The issue of boys' admission to college decreasing or not staying on par with girls' admission to college is a completely separate issue from high school football-related concussions. I feel very confident about making this statement and nothing Gregg says here changes my mind.

Having ever-more boys being bashed on the head in football, while more play full-pads tackle at young ages, may be causing brain trauma that makes boys as a group somewhat less likely to succeed as students. In the highly competitive race for college admissions, even a small overall medical disadvantage for boys could matter.

How many kids does Gregg think play football in high school? The entire male student body? The only time college admission problems could be related to football is in high school. So when boys start playing football is somewhat irrelevant because of the set of students who play at a young age is larger than the subset that play football in high school. The only way it would be relevant when kids start playing football is if Gregg's assumption about concussions is correct and kids are suffering their first concussion in youth league.

More important, the increasing amount of time high school boys devote to football may be preventing them from having the GPA and extracurriculars that will earn them regular admission to college when recruiters don't come calling.

Sports are an extracurricular activity. So colleges may look at football in a positive light on a boy's high school transcript.

I am not going to argue why high school boys seem to be distracted because there is a variety of reasons for why this could be. I don't see football as the cause for why fewer boys are going to college compared to girls. I see lack of parental support and lack of accountability by high school boys as to why there are more girls attending college than boys. There absolutely has to be a much larger cause at hand than participation in football for why boys aren't attending college at the same rate as girls. I say this (and I don't have data, but use common sense) because not that many high school boys play football. The high school football team isn't 200 boys strong. There may be individual high school boys playing football who don't devote their time to school and don't end up going to college. Just like there are individual boys who go to college when they otherwise would not because of football.

But why are women taking over the world? Rosin supposes that in the modern knowledge economy, superior college performance confers a substantial advantage on women.

Women are not taking over the world yet. Perhaps the large amount of women who are attending college isn't because boys are too busy playing football, but the female empowerment movement seen over the past decades is finally paying off. Girls see their mom, aunt, or sister go to college and realize they want to go to college as well. Women are taking over the world (though they really aren't) because society has worked hard to give women equal opportunities and to open the eyes of women to what is possible with a college education.

But why are women doing so well in college? Maybe one of the reasons is that many boys are seeing their college chances sabotaged by football.

So women are doing well in college, in other words getting good grades and graduating, because men played football in high school? Here lies another problem Gregg has with causation and correlation. Women doing well in college is a separate issue from boys playing football and how this impacts their attending college. I think the amount of women going to college can mostly be attributed to the focus of higher education for women over the last several decades.

The gender that plays football is falling behind in college. The gender that does not play football is excelling.

The gender with penises is falling behind in college, while the gender without penises are excelling. Is it possible that a man's penis is reducing the man's ability to learn? Is the existence of a man's private parts really just a way to hold him down? Do vaginas figuratively and literally make women smarter?

Is brain harm to boys from football a factor? This new article in the technical journal Neurosurgery finds that suffering two or more concussions during high school days is associated with neurological problems later in life.

So Gregg has taken a small subset of male college applicants, those boys who played football in high school, and now has reduced this subset into a smaller subset, those boys who suffered two or more concussions, and speculates whether concussions are why boys aren't getting into college as a larger trend. I don't believe this small subset can cause such a large trend.

My old high school has 1360 students and 47% of the student body is male. That's 640 male students. There are 45 male students who play for the varsity team and I will assume the JV team has that many as well, which I actually doubt but I couldn't find the roster online. So of these 90 students who play football, what percentage of them would you expect have suffered two or more concussions during high school? I don't know the answer to my own questions, but that is the subset of students who aren't able to be admitted into college due to Gregg's concussion theory.

This study says 8.9% of all high school injuries are concussions. What's interesting is with Gregg's insistence on blaming football for everything, do you know what sport is second when it comes to causing concussions in high school students? Women's soccer. Women's. Soccer. Played by women. So wouldn't you think women soccer players would also experience some sort of neurological effect which would hurt their college chances? I realize women's soccer players don't experience concussions at the same rate as football players do. I would think concussions from playing women's soccer would be significant in terms of women being admitted to college, if we are also assuming concussions in football are significant in terms of boys getting into college.

I'm getting way off my point, which basically is I am not sure concussions and boys' participation in football is why they are lagging behind women in terms of going to college.

As more young boys play full-pads youth football, they sustain lots of minor hits to the helmet.

So Gregg really is going all the way back to youth football, while saying concussions are a large reason why boys are making it in college? I find this to be a bit of a stretch. Boys suffer head injuries and concussions when they are young, even if they don't play football, it is just a part of being a boy. So football isn't the only way for a boy to sustain a minor hit to his head as a child.

Neurology aside, most likely the largest factor in the possible relationship of rising football popularity to declining male college attendance is that teen boys who play the sport spend too much time on football and not enough time on schoolwork.

Aside from being pure speculation, the other fault in this argument, at least in my opinion, is teen boys who spend less time on schoolwork because of football would probably find another reason to waste their time if football didn't exist. There are other sports that boys play. The core issue of the problem is these students aren't spending enough time on schoolwork. So I am not sure if football is the cause of the problem or the outlet for the problem.

Does a person stab another person to death because they have a knife available to them or because they have an underlying anger problem? Take away the knife and the anger problem is still there.

When they don't get recruited, many may lack the grades, board scores and extracurriculars for regular college admission.

This is true for kids who play too many video games, watch too much television or play in any other sport in high school. There are always distractions available which can affect grades.

This means the overwhelming majority of those who play high school football receive no college admissions boast from the sport. Yet many let their schoolwork slide in order to be on the team, then find they are not qualified for regular college admission.

I think this is just such a weak argument. Gregg should never have written about this topic until he had his thoughts all together. He's jumping around blaming football for the underlying problem that a high school student doesn't get good enough grades to get in college. If it isn't football the student spends his time on, it would be something else. Gregg has kids, he should understand how easily distracted they are.

Traditionally, high school football players struggled in the classroom during the season, then made up ground in the spring:

Is there any fucking proof of this? No. Great, thanks for contributing.

This is Gregg at his most frustrating. He makes statements with zero factual backing provided and expects his audience to just accept them. So he wants me to believe, without giving me facts, high school football players "traditionally" get better grades in the spring than the fall?

ideally also doing band, theater, the school newspaper or some other extracurricular in the spring.

Apparently Gregg thinks high schools across the nation directly resemble the television show "Glee."

I don't recall too many football players who were in band, theater or the school newspaper when I was in high school. What is really, really super funny to me is this...couldn't be we blame the school newspaper, band, and theater for cutting into a student's time of studying? I am sure these activities take time, so why does football directly impact a student's grades but working after school on a school play does not cut into the same person's study time?

But if youth and high school football are making their male players less likely, as a group, to reach college, this is a troubling indictment of the sport.

Yes, if Gregg's completely arguable theory does hold true we should pretty much get rid of football as a sport in high schools. This would lead to colleges not having football programs and then there would be no NFL. Which means there would be no TMQ. Which means I wouldn't subject myself to reading it every week. On second thought, let's cancel football in high schools!

The undrafted Tony Romo of the Dallas Cowboys is on a pace to break Dan Marino's record for passing yards in a season.

Here we go with the annual tug of war about undrafted players. Here's how it works. Gregg cherry picks undrafted players as proof all undrafted players are better than players drafted and I point out all the highly drafted players who play well also. It's an enjoyable game for no one.

Who else, other than the cherry picked Tony Romo, is on pace to break or come close to breaking Dan Marino's record at this point?

Tom Brady- 6th round pick
Aaron Rodgers- 1st round pick
Cam Newton- 1st round pick (#1 overall)
Phillip Rivers- 1st round pick (just off the pace of Marino's record)
Matthew Stafford- 1st round pick (#1 overall---also just off pace for Marino's record)

So of the 6 players currently close to breaking Marino's record, four of them are 1st round draft picks. Gregg naturally leaves this out when discussing the draft position of players on pace to break Dan Marino's passing record. He only mentions Tony Romo because he was undrafted. Can't let facts get in the way of his argument.

On Sunday night, Julio Jones of the Atlanta Falcons -- one of the most expensive players in NFL annals, obtained by the Falcons for two first-round choices, a second-rounder and two fourth-round selections -- went deep and saw the pass broken up by the undrafted Sam Shields.

So you mean on one pass play Sam Shields outplayed Julio Jones? That definitely means undrafted players are great and Julio Jones will never amount to anything in the NFL.

Across the league, undrafted players are outperforming megabucks high draft choices.

Across the league, megabucks high draft choices are outperforming undrafted players as well.

Perhaps the undrafted players excel because they are undrafted -- spending their time and energy on performing, rather than on me-first whining.

Or it could be because NFL scouting is an inexact science and there are thousands of college football players so some fall through the cracks and end up in an NFL system that works well for their talents. I am sure Gregg's reasoning is more right though.

Stats of the Week No. 1: Michael Vick now holds the NFL game, season and career records for rushing yards by a quarterback.

He was the #1 overall pick by the way.

Stats of the Week No. 7: In their three home games, the Bills have allowed their opponents an average of 479 yards -- and won all three.

This couldn't be the same Bills defense Gregg just lauded for playing well with undrafted players could it? I'm sure it isn't, because undrafted players spend all of their time on being better players rather than whining, so there is no way a defense full of undrafted players would give up nearly 500 yards a game on defense.

Stats of the Week No. 10: In their past six quarters, the San Francisco 49ers have outscored opponents by 69-6.

Their quarterback? #1 overall draft choice Alex Smith. The 49ers top receiver? 1st round draft pick Vernon Davis. The 49ers third best receiver? The cause of the "Crabtree Curse" which Gregg never mentions anymore because it was all bullshit, Michael Crabtree.

Sour Tactics: New England leading 27-14, Jersey/B took possession with 12:57 remaining, and did not go hurry-up. Leisurely forming huddles, the New York Jets ran a touchdown drive, but used 7:54 in the process. Jersey/B was playing the highest scoring-team in the conference, yet acting as though there was no urgency because its defense would get a quick three-and-out.

So now Gregg is complaining the Jets didn't score a touchdown fast enough. The Jets defense was going to have to stop the Patriots at some point and the Jets still had 5 minutes to stop the Patriots and get the ball back if the defense could stop the Patriots. That was plenty of time. I am sure the Patriots also knew the Jets wanted to score quickly and didn't allow them to do so. I am also sure the Jets would have loved to score quickly if they could have. The Jets still had plenty of time left over after this drive, so there was no reason to hurry and commit a turnover.

The Lions started six first-round draft choices on offense -- their own first-rounders, not castoffs -- and two second-rounders. Long years of bad drafts in Detroit are over. The franchise has been stockpiling quality and it shows,

If these were real quality players they would all be undrafted free agents, not these highly paid glory boys that have a me-first attitude and have completely turned the Lions team around.

the Lions being one of the league's highest-scoring teams and first in point differential, at plus-70. Everyone in football wants playmakers: Detroit has them.

Don't you love how Gregg acknowledges the first and second round picks on the Lions roster making a dramatic difference in the team's fortunes, but still manages to bash highly paid glory boys who are high draft picks on a consistent basis in this column?

Twice Sunday, Jason Avant, one of the league's most muscular receivers, was stripped of the ball.

"One of the NFL's most muscular receivers?" Really, Gregg? What does this even mean or how is it relevant? Strong players can get the ball stripped from them, just like weaker players can.

Then there is Andy Reid's puzzling decision to put the Eagles' defense in the hands of Juan Castillo, who only had never coached defense in the NFL or in college...Now, TMQ likes an unknown-comes-out-of-nowhere story as much as the next guy. But on-the-job-training in the NFL?

This statement from a guy who thinks NFL teams should hire more coaches from Ivy League schools. You know, guys with little NFL experience or experience at a big college football program.

The Falcons might right themselves, but for now, there seems a concern that the Julio Jones trade will explode in their faces. Atlanta gave a king's ransom for Jones, not only depleting its ability to restock other positions but inserting a diva character into a locker room that previously was cohesive.

Where is the proof Julio Jones is a diva? Gregg just says shit like this and doesn't shit any sources about Julio Jones being a diva. Earlier in the column Gregg took politicians to task when they say things like:

In Barack Obama's speech on the Afghan war, the president quoted at length "one soldier" who supports the White House position. In his 2011 State of the Union Address, Obama quoted a "struggling small business owner" and a "woman who said … she and her neighbors have felt the pain of recession." Why did these people -- assuming they exist -- lack names?

Yet when it comes to providing evidence for what he is claiming, he doesn't provide evidence--assuming any evidence even exists. Just like he wants proof in the form of names, I'd like proof Julio Jones is a diva in the form of a linked article or quote.

On the game, New Orleans was called for two roughing-the-passer penalties, both of which sustained touchdown drives,

One of these calls was pure bullshit and should never have been called on the Saints. The Saints in no way roughed the quarterback and even the announcers were at a loss for how bad the call was.

Why haven't the hapless Marine Mammals tried to salvage their season by acquiring Carson Palmer or Brady Quinn?

Yeah, why wouldn't the Dolphins do this? Other than the fact Carson Palmer is expensive, would take a few weeks to learn the offense, and would probably only be average once he did learn the offense? Of course this doesn't even talk about the whole issue that the Bengals don't seem open to trading Carson Palmer. Who cares about that? The Dolphins should find a way to acquire Palmer without the Bengals' permission.

As for Brady about the Dolphins haven't gotten Brady Quinn to salvage their season because he would only do more damage to their season? I would love to hear from Gregg about how Brady Quinn is a better quarterback for the Dolphins than Matt Moore is, especially since Brady Quinn would cost a draft pick to acquire. Sometimes it is like Gregg doesn't even watch the NFL.

Readers, including Samantha Dutton of Chapel Hill, N.C., noted that one of this year's coveted MacArthur Fellowships went to Kevin Guskiewicz, a UNC researcher who specializes in sports brain trauma. TMQ quoted him in July as noting that while the NFL will not mandate that players wear new helmets with concussion-resistant designs, he requires his two football-playing sons to do this.

I hope Kevin Guskiewicz knows because his two sons play football they will never make it into college.

Leading Kansas 69-14 at the start of the fourth quarter, Oklahoma State attempted nine more passes, furiously running up the score to 70-28.

I guess Oklahoma State got one of those 1-point touchdowns.

Next Week TCU changes conferences during a game.

Presumably, this means TCU is now on Gregg's bad side and will be considered a "football factory" from now on.


HH said...

I can't even finish reading this post before finding myself forced to respond.

1. More boys than girls play sports. That's true for basically all sports. Thus, you could say that the rise of any sport is keeping boys out of college.

2. Boys and girls have different cognitive abilities: boys have higher variance (that is, are both smarter and stupider) while girls are more consistent. To simplify using totally made up numbers, boys are more likely to get a GPA 4.0 or a 2.0, while girls are more likely to cluster around 3.0. If you set the minimum for college at 3.0 (and given women equal opportunity), then more women than men go to college. Obviously mine is a simplified example, but I hope it illustrates the point.

3. Gregg is right about the impact on of hits on the developing brains. It could well have an impact on later cognitive performance. It's just impossible to justify knowing what we know about how relatively few boys play tackle football, and how many hits to the head boys have always taken without adverse consequences.

4. Hasn't Gregg praised youth football as a way to learn the value of hard work and conscientiousness? Strikes me that this would actually improve male college attendance, as more boys are taught patience and conscientiousness.

5. There is so much more to address, but fuck it.

Nick Veraldi said...

I'm not sure I'd agree completely with this. Sports not only teaches hard work and basic moral fundamentals (teamwork, perserverance, etc.) that shape kids for a better tomorrow. Football certainly isn't the big problem.

rich said...

Twenty years ago, there were more men in college than women.

This is true, but twenty years ago, women weren't really "expected" to go to college, now, it kind of is.

So this statistic is stupid because it doesn't mean less men are going to college, it means more women are.

Women are taking more of the available slots in college at the same time boys are spending more time playing football. Are these two facts related?

There are 4 million more females than males in the US... So by the same logic as my argument above... no, no they aren't. It's just that more women are taking advantage of the opportunity to go to college.

Oh and since the NFL forces kids to go to college (basically this is what they do)... wouldn't football actually help the percentages?

In the highly competitive race for college admissions, even a small overall medical disadvantage for boys could matter.

This is hilarious to me. Most colleges will allow any dumbass who is willing to cut a check to the school in.

But why are women doing so well in college?

Are they? Where are the statistics for this?

It could also be that women are getting degrees in less time intensive and strenuous areas: English for example, while math, science and engineering still remain male dominate fields. Consequently, if all you do is look at the GPAs of the two genders, then men will be bogged down by these areas where high GPAs are rare.

The gender that plays football is falling behind in college. The gender that does not play football is excelling.

Again, says who?

When they don't get recruited, many may lack the grades, board scores and extracurriculars for regular college admission.

This has nothing to do with gender, but has to do with socio-economic issues.

This means the overwhelming majority of those who play high school football receive no college admissions boast from the sport.

Admissions boast? Wtf does that mean. Oh, he spelled boost wrong.

I'll stop there, but seriously, who gives a fuck if someone goes to college. Steve Jobs didn't go to college and Bill Gates dropped out, so TMQ really needs to quit this liberal bullshit argument that everyone needs the "enlightening" experiences of college. They don't. The world has too many dipshit art history majors anyway.

Anonymous said...

Doesn't TMQ coach high school football? I could have sworn he wrote that in his articles a couple years ago.

Bengoodfella said...

HH, I won't disagree about concussions and how it affects cognitive learning. I just don't think that is the reason boys aren't getting into college. I know you feel that way too. Boys receive concussions playing other sports as well, though I do realize football concussions are the most prevalent. Gregg has lauded football for teaching teamwork and for teaching boys life lessons. Now that's changed I guess.

Nick, agreed. Though the concussions caused are a huge negative, the skills learned in football about teamwork, hard work, dedication to a large cause, and how to work through negative results can shape kids for the future. Blaming concussions for males not attending college as often as women is incredibly short-sighted.

Rich, I think much of the women's role in this discussion about why they are going to college is they are taking advantage of the opportunity to do so. It's that easy in my mind. There are more two income homes and women are in college more and we are seeing that in the statistics.

I have seen stats that show women are going to college for liberal arts and men are going to college for more sciences and engineering-related causes. Gregg likes to make these statements about women succeeding in college but has very little backing behind them. I know some of them are true, but he's making 2-3 assumptions without data for us to buy his final conclusion.

Students who don't get good grades and lack the extracurriculars is not necessarily an issue of women/men or football v. other sports. Students in HS have so many things they can get involved with that take up their time. I played tennis and it took up a good portion of 1/2 of my Spring semester, maybe more than that. I didn't get recruited, but it was on my college transcript and it looked good.

Gregg's argument is all over the map. First, it is football overall causing a problem for boys. Then it is concussions and football. Then it is the time football takes up that causes the problems to where boys can't study. It feels scattershot.

I don't get why football has to be an admissions boost. Can't it just be a fun sport to play and learn other lessons in life? What Gregg doesn't understand is different colleges accept students every single year for different reasons. One year a college may want to focus on a more diverse out of state population and admit students that way. The next year a college may want the best overall student and take less students. The next the college will be focused on more well-rounded students during the admissions process. To assume there is one process a college uses on a yearly basis is faulty reasoning. Many colleges are interested in students that can pay for their college and students who provide a benefit to the school in some way, but the criteria for accepting students can change from year to year. So football may or may not help, but it certainly doesn't hurt.

Anon, I'm glad you brought that up. I had forgotten that he does.

He coaches youth football, which means I am guessing he doesn't feel to blame for boys focusing too much on football in high school.

cs said...

He coaches middle school flag football (that has perhaps changed as his lovable Spencer ages), and yet I'm still waiting for his impossible-to-defend (I think he meant "indefensible") offensive play to be revealed to the public, a play he he often mentioned years ago.

jacktotherack said...

What's even worse about Greggggggggggggggggggg's dipshit "diva" comment about Jones is if you do a google search for "julio jones character issues" all you get is glowing praise for what a hard worker Jones is, how he played half of last year at Bama with a broken hand, and how he went through the combine drills with a broken foot. Gregg completely made that shit up to fit his "first round megabucks glory boy" narrative which is fucking disgraceful.

Think about this, ESPN is giving this asshole a weekly column to spout absolute horseshit and sully players names for no reason other than to fit his own prejudices and stereotypes. It's irresponsible and pathetic.

Bengoodfella said...

Jack, I did that. I googled "Julio Jones" name and "character issues" and only found articles saying he didn't have any character issues. I found the same stuff you did. How embarrassing, but of course ESPN and TMQ don't care. Whatever gets readers to read.

He wants to explain why the Falcons are struggling and so he blames it on the guy the Falcons gave up a lot of picks to get. It's all his fault naturally, who cares if it is the truth? I wish one of the readers would call Gregg on this. If they did he would have no comment really and would just mention what the reader said in TMQ. Gregg sees a 1st round pick and just assumes they are highly paid and lazy.

Martin F. said...

Well in a round about way, Julio Jones being on the Falcons is part of the reason why they are bad this year. They needed to shore up their defense more, maybe get another good young tight end. Excellent wide out was a luxury they could do without. None of it's Jones' fault, but that og the Falcon's front office.

Bengoodfella said...

Martin, you could be right about that. I think the Falcons feel, and I am saying this just from what I read about them, their defense had injuries last year and is young. So the hope was the injuries wouldn't happen this year and the younger players can start to develop a little bit more.

I will say I am surprised they didn't draft a TE b/c Gonzalez is still producing but they could use another guy for Gonzalez to bring along. I think the Jones trade may have been a reaction to getting beat by the Packers like they did. They felt they weren't getting Matt Ryan enough weapons to stretch the field with. Of course, they probably could have used a defender with those picks they traded too.