Author Archives: Dylan Huberman

Are Football Players Modernized Gladiators?

Football is such a wonderful game, isn’t it? It brings families and friends and foes together for a series of sporting spectacles for ten hours on a Sunday, with a primetime show the preceding Thursday and the following Monday. Every single stadium roars loudly, tens of thousands of witnesses cheering for their side to win. Try taking away the field, the officials, teammates and replace pads with good old fashioned sword and shield. Doesn’t that sound awfully familiar, just like something that occurred regularly in Rome over a thousand years ago?

NFL linebacker Terrell Suggs photo 1

This connection has been made by many people many times before but for some reason, people aren’t positive whether or not football players are modern-day gladiators. This was my view when I first heard the comparison as, like the writer, I too entered this debate with bias as an avid fan of football. As a little kid, my eyes couldn’t believe the plays that immortal legends such as LaDainian Tomlinson, Ray Lewis and Randy Moss made (yes, I actually thought they were immortal. I was a kid, cut me some slack).

Once I started to realize the real dangers of football, I no longer celebrated the huge hits Ray Lewis made that I once cheered wildly for, instead hoping his victim walked away unscathed. Football causes an alarming number of concussions, and all of these players are either suing the NFL over permanent head injuries or have already died as a result of concussions. This alarming statistic only adds onto the fire. Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) has caused many players to die. It scared me when I first heard about it, and chills ran up my spine when I saw the movie Concussion in theaters. I realized how dangerous football was. I always played football with my friends up through high school but now we all play touch so we don’t end up in an emergency room.

photo 2

This article, written by legendary sports journalist Bill Plaschke, affirms the connection between gladiators and football. Both gladiators and football players receive cheers from tens of thousands of fans who came to huge stadiums to watch the contests. Huge NFL salaries don’t compare to the minimal, if any payment, the gladiators garnered. However, the NFL and NCAAF both profit from the players’ suffering, just like the owners of the gladiators did. Other than that, they’re both fight to the death “games.” The only difference is that gladiators had the luxury of dying on the spot. Football players have to suffer for years after they wrap up their careers. They end up retiring to some exotic place only to suffer and even die, whether “naturally”, like Ken Stabler or Mike Webster, or by suicide, like Dave Duerson or Junior Seau. Ask their families if football is just a game. Football players are dying in heaps, just like gladiators did when they “lost.” Now, ask yourself; just how are football players different from gladiators? Or if you still can’t answer that, ask these two Broncos players kneeling over 2015 NFL MVP Cam Newton below.

photo 3

Multitasking Is a Myth

At some point or another in our lives, we have all had an overwhelming number of tasks to get done in a seemingly minimal window of time. To solve this, we attempt to multitask. I for one try to multitask quite frequently, albeit with things that have varying levels of importance. I try to lock in and focus on my work but a lot of the time, text messages and snapchat enter the fold. Sometimes, I feel compelled to throw in headphones or answer a facetime call. Maybe my fantasy football roster could use an overhaul prior to the games on Sunday. Meanwhile, I somehow manage to get my work done well and on time. Seemingly, multitasking is a real thing then, right?

                                                                                             photo 1

Well, the answer is no; what society in general understands to be multitasking isn’t even real. It’s actually a great method of becoming inefficient and can be very distracting, such as the example from the source in the previous sentence: using your eyes to attempt to text and to drive at the same time. A less-deadly example that I’ve actually attempted was to watch television while I was running on a treadmill and hydrate with some Gatorade while still on the treadmill. I was able to watch television and run on the treadmill simultaneously (I’ll explain how in the next paragraph) but I was not able to take a drink. I had to slow down my speed to make sure I could actually grab my drink and had to look down to make sure I didn’t fly off the treadmill.

Now, how come I was able to run while I was watching television? Every single thing that you do is processed by some part of your brain. If you try to complete multiple tasks at the same time and those tasks involve different parts of the brain, it is possible to do multiple things at once. This exception has very clear and specific parameters: if one of the two actions is basically mastered, such as walking, running, eating, and the like, another action using a different part of the brain can be done. Since watching television and running are two actions that don’t involve the same part of the brain, I was able to do them together. However, adding my sip of Gatorade into the equation was not good, as I was moving my legs and arms in different directions to do two different things. How could that part of my brain focus on either one of them?                                                                                        photo 2

What actually happens when people think they are multitasking, as described here and in the same link from the paragraph above, is called serial tasking. Your brain shifts focus from one task to another pretty quickly but it doesn’t do multiple tasks at the same time. So, going back to the opening paragraph when I was discussing my attempts of multitasking work with various things on the outside, I was actually shifting my focus from my work to texting, snapchat, music or a call. I wasn’t actually doing any of those things at the same time because each activity needs to be focused on to be completed. If I’m going to send a text, I cannot type on my laptop and my phone at the same time. If I’m going take a picture on snapchat, I have to divert my attention from my textbook to my phone briefly. The list goes on and on. What shouldn’t go on anymore is the belief that the human brain can do multiple tasks, what we all thought was multitasking, because the brain cannot do that.

photo 3

Sports Drinks or Water?

If you’ve ever been to the gym or watched a sporting event, you’ve seen plenty of sweaty people sipping on sports drinks such as Gatorade and Powerade. People drink them after working out, playing a sport or in daily life just because they like the flavor. The popularity of these sports drinks has somehow made water the forgotten drink for athletes. Personal preference in daily life is one thing but athletes need to recover from physical exertion and to recover effectively, they need the best option. The question is, what is the better option in terms of hydration?                                                                                                      photo 1

Patrick J. Skerrett’s blog post in Harvard Health points out that overhydration has become an issue because of this debate. A key point Skerrett makes in that argument is that no marathon runner has ever died from dehydration but sixteen marathon runners have died, along with well over a thousand becoming very sick, as a result of overhydration and hyponatremia. Athletes are overhydrating because they fear that they need to put a ton of fluid, especially sports drinks, in their bodies when they exert themselves like crazy. For some reason, they fear that they are losing so many electrolytes that they have to down a few Gatorades to replenish them. However, this is not the case. This article informs us that the energy your body needs, without the added sugars, can be found in the foods we eat. Also, there aren’t enough electrolytes in any sports drink to adequately restore electrolytes after extensive physical activity anyway. Eating well will give the body everything it needs to function well, as sports drinks are not even remotely considered useful unless they are used by people who push the human body to extreme limits. Even then, sports drinks shouldn’t be downed as if it was water.

Sports drinks don’t really have a use for anyone, let alone people who aren’t crazy athletes. No teenager who hits the gym for an hour should be guzzling a sports drink. Athletes rarely have any reason to grab anything other than water, as it takes a ton of physical exertion for someone to need the sugar and emergency electrolytes that a sports drink offers. Water is what your body craves, whether you are exerting yourself or not. There’s nothing bad in purified water for you. It is understandable for someone to grab a sports drink, a soda, an iced tea or some other sweet confection every so often but not when your body needs to recover from physical activity go with water.

photo 2           

In summary, unless you are a world class athlete who does anything short of climbing Everest or swimming across the English Channel, (in other words, pushes their body to its absolute physical limits) you shouldn’t be counting on sports drinks for hydration. Reinforcing earlier points, this source concludes that our bodies need the fluid that is natural on this Earth, in our bodies when we are born and gives us everything we need to properly hydrate after physical activity: water. Why wouldn’t you drink water over anything to hydrate?

Food Comas Are Real!

We’ve all eaten much more than our stomachs have room for at some time or another. Maybe you managed to clean two full plates of turkey on Thanksgiving last week. Maybe you can’t wait to pig out on more wings than you can count during the Super Bowl (I do). Whatever your cause for devouring way too much food than you should, you will likely want sleep like a baby soon after your king-sized meal, which is commonly called a food coma.

Now, people question whether or not a food coma is actually a real thing. The answer to that is yes. Postprandial somnolence, the formal name for a food coma, is no myth. Whenever you eat a ton of food, your body actually does experience a food coma, which is not to be mistaken for a coma. However, unlike a coma, the human body doesn’t shut down due to some sort of ailment when you decide to channel your inner cookie monster.

                                                                                photo 1

Postprandial somnolence is caused by two things. The first cause is a diversion of blood and energy towards digesting the obscenely large amount of food in your stomach, which makes your energy level quite low. The extra energy that is diverted towards digestion is taken away from exertion, which is why you can’t really do much once you get up from the table. The second cause is the entrance of a lot of glucose into the bloodstream, causing drowsiness and makes you want to crash pretty soon after your feast.

Knowing what is behind a food coma, we are left with a very important choice. Anyone who feels like they want to avoid food comas should avoid overeating, especially overeating meals that are full of sugar (glucose). And for everyone else who loves the feeling of a food coma after eating far more than you should, especially sugary treats such as chocolate or a sugary drink accompanying a huge meal, keep on pigging out on holidays when it’s socially acceptable. After all, football is on all day during Thanksgiving because nobody has the energy to do anything other than plop on the couch and watch it.

                                                        photo 2

An Apple a Day Really Does Keep the Doctor Away

                                  photo 1

We’ve all heard the adage “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Turns out, that’s not just a rhyme to make kids eat some fruit; it’s a fact. You could make apple pie, apple crumb, applesauce, apple juice, and more out of this small ball that grows on trees. As fruits, apples were already considered to be healthy things to eat. What you more than likely were not aware of was that it isn’t just the classification of ‘fruit’ that makes them healthy.

There are chemicals in the apples, called phytonutrients, that defend the apple from bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Two studies done by Cornell University discovered that quercetin and phenolic compounds, which are phytonutrients in apples, were effective in protecting the brain cells of rats from oxidative stress. Granted, since the laboratory tests were done on rats and not humans, the results should not make people eat ten apples a day under the assumption that they’ll be totally protected from neurodegenerative diseases and oxidative stress.

What would be interesting to see is if someone could try injecting quercetin and phenolic compounds into some other food. Maybe they could be injected into other fruits and vegetables missing those phytonutrients that could further confirm or refute the findings from these studies by adding to what may become a strong meta-analysis of this phenomenon. Maybe they could be injected into red meat and see if the phytonutrients could fend off bacteria and make meat safer for consumption by reducing the likelihood of deadly illnesses such as Salmonella.                                                                                  photo 2

These studies revealed that the phytonutrients in apples are better at preventing cancer than vitamin C is, as well as stronger anti-oxidant protective effects than vitamin C. On top of that, the phytonutrients are also associated with reducing the risks of other diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. From what scientists are uncovering about these phytonutrients, it sounds as if apples are a panacea. However, to confirm these findings, scientists would have to carry out a study involving human subjects, not just rats. More work needs to be done to figure out whether these phytonutrients are just as effective at preventing disease in humans as they are in rats. Medicine could be revolutionized if they are effective at preventing diseases in humans, as daily vitamins may end up with quercetin as an ingredient sooner rather than later.

Sports are Better than Science

Hi guys my name is Dylan Huberman and like most of you, science and I have never gotten along. I have always loved sports, both playing and watching, and my life wouldn’t be the same without them. I merged that with my other interests, television and journalism, and have been set to pursue a career in sports journalism as a broadcaster, writer or maybe a little of both.

Getting to my interest in taking this course, I have always found science interesting but not the way it was taught in schools, which is something horrible like this. However, I love ethical dilemmas and learning the differences between fact and fiction (at least my inner journalist does). SC 200 gives me an opportunity to actually somewhat enjoy a science class for once in my life and actually learn something that I may actually come across once I complete the course.

That being said, in all honesty, I just am not that interested in science. Learning about the elements on the periodic table or attempting to melt a piece of metal with some mixture cooked up in a lab doesn’t float my boat. I’d rather watch people do crazy things like this and get paid to write/talk about it. That’s just what I love and although some physicist out there has probably come up with an equation that explains how Odell Beckham Jr. made this play, I just have zero interest in learning what it is.

Odell Beckham Jr.