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Patrick Hruby

Thirteen for 2013

The most interesting pieces I wrote this year

As 2013 comes to an end, here are the most interesting pieces I worked on this year. Enjoy, thanks for reading, and see you in 2014.

The Damage Done
Football made George Visger a man. Now it is unmaking him. A searing, intimate portrait of how a former NFL player and his family live and cope with brain damage.

The Sports Cable Bubble
Why is your cable bill so high? Why does the money in sports keep going up, up, up? Why are sports networks proliferating like fruit flies? The answer lies in the hidden-in-plain-sight business model of contemporary television, which relies on people who neither watch nor care about sports to pay for them anyway.

Sports Welfare Dies Hard
Eliminating Sports Welfare - the morass of public funding and tax breaks given the the multibillion-dollar sports industry - ought to be a bipartisan no-brainer. So why can't politicians make it happen?

The Choice
Should your child play football? Should anyone's child play football? What are the risks, exactly? A must-read for parents, families and anyone involved with the sport.

The Gold-Plating of College Sports
Defenders of the college sports economic status quo often claim that eliminating amateurism and allowing revenue sport athletes to receive market compensation is simply unaffordable. Don't be fooled. On million-dollar athletic directors, Xanadu-shaming sports complexes and how amateurism actually drives the cost of college sports up.

Head Games
The National Collegiate Athletic Association's concussion policy - or, more accurately, its lack of a comprehensive policy - is appalling, immoral and putting college athletes at unnecessary risk.

Herbal Remedy
From emerging science to shifting cultural mores, why the sports world should reconsider its retrograde, unhelpful prohibitions on medical marijuana use.

The Worst Fit
Former University of Richmond walk-on basketball player Jonathan Benjamin was a model student and athlete, a hustling entrepreneur who turned a class project into a fledging clothing business. Then the NCAA and its voluminous amateurism rulebook got involved.

Winning the Frame Game
How political consultants are bringing their public opinion-manipulating techniques - read: complete and total mastery of Jedi Mind Trick-level bullshit - to sports.

Don't Settle
Why the proposed NFL concussion lawsuit settlement is financially inadequate, morally repugnant and a disservice to public health.

The Wrong Man for the Job
Elliot Pellman once wrote that concussions in professional football "are not serious injuries." He spent nearly a decade downplaying and dismissing the long-term cognitive damage associated with repeated blows to the head. He headed a NFL-created concussion committee that has been blasted by Congress, discredited by independent researchers and accused of producing dubious, industry-sponsored pro-tobacco pseudo-science. So why is he still working as a NFL medical advisor?

The Myth of Safe Football
Via on-field rules changes and a youth tackling program called "Heads Up," the NFL and its youth arm, USA Football, would like you to believe that there is "no question that football can be played safely and is safe, as long as it is taught properly and the players execute it properly." Ahem. Physics, biology and the violent reality of the sport beg to differ.

The Forgotten Founders of Fantasy Football
Contrary to popular belief - and an ESPN "30 for 30" documentary - fantasy sports didn't begin with Rotisserie Baseball. Not even close. Travel back in time to meet the real originators of America's ongoing addiction - and a 50-year-old fantasy football league that's still going strong.