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Volume 6 No. 217

Leagues and Governing Bodies

Medical officials from the NFL, FIFA and other sports organizations "are banding together to look into better ways to identify, manage and treat concussions," according to Barry Wilner of the AP. The groups met at the NFL's N.Y. HQ on Sunday and Monday for a "think tank," which was "funded by an educational grant" from the league. Dozens of scientific and medical personnel "from football, rugby and equestrian circles participated." NFL Head, Neck & Spine Committee Chair Rich Ellenbogen said the various sports organizations "need to look at all variations of what is being done around the world" (AP, 8/25). Dublin-based Int'l Rugby Board Chief Medical Officer Martin Raftery said, "We recognize every sport is unique, it's different, but we all have common problems … with respect to concussion. The solutions might be minimally different, but if we get together and share our information and knowledge and cooperate with research, then we're going to be moving forward" (USA TODAY, 8/25). The AP reported Australian neurologist Dr. Paul McCrory "joined forces with medical officials from the NFL, FIFA and other sports organisations to look at better ways to identify, manage and treat concussions." AFL Chief Medical Officer Dr. Peter Harcourt, NRL medical boss Dr. Ken Crichton and North Queensland Cowboys doctor Chris Ball were "also part of the NFL-funded 'think tank,'" as well as FIFA Dr. Jiri Dvorak. McCrory: "This is an exciting development in the science of sports concussion" (AP, 8/26).

As a founder of Polish American Football League club Warsaw Eagles' official fan club, the Eagle's Nest, Piotr Zaremba is "at the epicenter of what has become, somewhat improbably, one of this country’s fastest growing sports," according to Rick Lyman of the N.Y. TIMES. What began in '99 in a Warsaw park "with five high school friends tossing around a football" became a "registered league" in '06 with four founding teams. It has "now grown into a network of more than 70 teams in 36 cities across Poland drawing tens of thousands of fans." The climax of the season, "the championship game popularly known as the Polish Bowl" -- though the league prefers Super Final -- is played in the country's "huge" National Stadium "before more than 20,000 fans and is telecast across Europe." PAFL President Jedrzej Steszewski said, "America's popularity in Poland is fluctuating up and down. And now, it's a little down. So we don't connect our promotions to America." Steszewski added, "The numbers of our fans are getting bigger and bigger each year. And this is because there is no flimflam or trickery, no yellow cards. It’s a tough sport. It's real. That is what our fans like." The Eagle's chief corporate sponsor, American-born shopping mall developer Paul Kusmierz, 44, said that there is a "physical reason for football’s popularity." He said, "A lot of these Polish guys, let’s face it, are not built for soccer. They’re big guys. But they want to be athletes, too, and this is a sport that they can play." There is "not much money in the sport, for anyone." Only a "few of the top players and coaches on the top teams are paid" (N.Y. TIMES, 8/25).

Nico Rosberg will face no further sanction from F1’s stewards "over his crash with Lewis Hamilton in the Belgian Grand Prix," according to Daniel Johnson of the London TELEGRAPH. Both Mercedes F1 Exec Dir Toto Wolff and Rosberg denied Hamilton’s accusation that the German had “deliberately” caused the collision to “prove a point.” Sources at the FIA had originally said that "there would only be an investigation if Rosberg admitted causing the accident intentionally, or if Mercedes lodged a complaint." A spokesperson for the FIA confirmed that without any “new evidence” the matter would be laid to rest. The spokesperson said, "The FIA will not intervene in this issue" (TELEGRAPH, 8/26). The BBC reported Hamilton "promised not to retaliate" against Rosberg at the Italian Grand Prix. Hamilton, 29, said, "I will always put the team first and I won't take anything into my own hands" (BBC, 8/26). In London, Kevin Eason wrote Hamilton "has aimed a thinly veiled dig" at Rosberg. Asked whether he could trust Rosberg should they be wheel-to-wheel at the next race at Monza, Hamilton added, “I’ll have to make sure we’re not wheel-to-wheel.” Hamilton’s former teammate, McLaren driver Jenson Button, also joined the debate, "calling for a clean contest between the warring Mercedes team-mates." Button "aligned himself with the man he partnered at McLaren for three seasons, warning that the championship could be decided for the wrong reasons." Button said, "I feel for Lewis. It is a shame it is not a cleaner fight. I have always said that the person who wins the world championship this year is the person who does the best job on the circuit but it does not quite seem that is the way it is at the moment." McLaren Racing Dir Eric Boullier warned that "Mercedes may have to impose a media blackout to prevent the drivers playing out their emotions on screen and in newsprint." Boullier said, “If there is a very serious degradation in the relationship between the drivers and between the drivers and the team, you will end up with a big, big mess." Fernando Alonso, "the beneficiary of team orders at Ferrari," believes that "the very public spat is good for the fans, who are relishing the intense contest. ... It is difficult. If the team lets the drivers fight and they don’t touch, it is fantastic; when they touch, the team are no good any longer. It is a very narrow line to try to make everyone happy" (LONDON TIMES, 8/26).

Australian Football League umpires "will meet some of the top whistle blowers in American sport on an end-of-season trip to New York." Twenty-nine of the league’s 32 umpires plus coaches "will spend a week visiting officials from the NBA, NHL and NFL in November." AFL National Umpiring Dir Wayne Campbell said the umpires will pay for the "personal development" trip themselves (HERALD SUN, 8/26). ... Welsh Rugby Players' Association President Rhys Williams "welcomed the news that the Welsh Rugby Union and its four regions are set to sign a new deal." Williams "hopes Welsh rugby can now move on." Williams said, "It's unfortunate we were ever put in this position ... but really it was high time that it had been agreed. It shouldn't have been left until the last minute before the start of the season" (BBC, 8/26).