Monday, August 6, 2012

Is Heading in Soccer Dangerous?

While some say that heading isn't harmful, there are others who adamantly suggest that it does harm. Are we really 'heading' for trouble? The debate continues ...
Mad about soccer? Can't get enough of heading and kicking? When the talk of thrill and adrenaline rush comes in, I agree; nothing beats the sport of soccer. Soccer is by far the most popular and one of the highly rated sports and there is absolutely no doubt why it is impossible to keep adults and children off the field.

Using the head to direct or stop a moving ball at extremely high velocity is what heading is all about. Heading is considered to be one of the most thrilling experiences on the field, and it is regarded as a player's most powerful weapon in a game. However, constant heading could be the reason behind the rise in the number of cases of concussions and brain injuries being recorded. Nevertheless, the fact remains debatable; so, let's take a look at what the experts have to say.

The Opinion
Medical experts have conducted tests on several soccer players and have found that players who have indulged in frequent heading show symptoms similar to that of concussion patients. According to the experts, the injury level was significant once the player surpassed 1000 head hits. MRI scans conducted on a group of 30 amateur soccer players proved that the players who indulged in excess amount of heading, showed signs of mild traumatic injury. The reports showed that the frontal lobe area and the temporal-occipital region of the brain were affected due to constant heading.

What keeps parents worried are bruises, fractures to the head, apart from the fear of causing eye injuries and in a worst-case scenario, even death. Justifying their cause of concern, they say that children are not trained to use the right technique of heading, which could lead to injuries to the spine and the head. Younger children, in particular, are at an increased risk of brain damage and cognitive impairment owing to the lack of body control needed for correct heading technique. Being a contact game, the incidences of injury caused due to heading are relatively high. Besides, constant trauma to the head can also result in a condition called the Footballer's migraine, which leads to constant pain and dizziness in players, especially affecting the younger players.

Important Note: Damage to the frontal lobe can hamper the motor control of the body as well as result in the loss of facial expression and problem-solving ability. Another significant change brought about due to the damage caused to the frontal lobe is a drastic change in the personality of the individual.

The Contradiction
Rubbishing the claim that heading causes brain injury, some researchers are of the opinion that heading does not cause brain damage. On the contrary, the main cause for concussion in players is the double heading that occurs when two players bang into each other. Another reason for concussions could be when the ball takes the player unawares.

Putting their point across, researches say that it is impossible for the ball to reach the velocity needed to cause the player to be injured. However, they do agree that banging into a goal post or a fall resulting from a clash with another player could be the cause behind most concussions. According to them, balls can be kicked to velocities of 70 miles/hr. However, not many professional players can achieve that velocity; besides, they say that only a player aggressive enough, would try to stop a ball moving at that speed with their head. A former soccer player ascertains that the force of the ball hitting the player's head is not enough to cause concussion in a player.

To ensure the safety of soccer players, enthusiasts have recommended using a protective headgear apart from the implementation of proper technique while 'heading' to prevent any serious damage. Taking a stand on such a controversial topic is surely taxing and is again susceptible to more controversies. However, intense research is being conducted to ascertain the causes of concussions and brain damage occurring due to heading.

It's a known fact that any sort of repetitive injury to the head is a cause for concussion and could, in future, be a reason to worry, especially where your health is concerned. To say the least, constant heading is dangerous and it could lead to severe impairment and personality disorders. To summarize, I quote Dr. Lipton who says, "Repetitive heading could set off a cascade of responses that can lead to degeneration of brain cells." All goes to say, take care while having a field time.

By Cheryl Mascarenhas

Biography of Hulk Hogan

Love him, hate him, but you just can't ignore him. Terry Gene Bollea, or Hulk Hogan is the original bad boy of professional wrestling. Let's take a look at the life and times of the phenomenal person behind Hulkamania.
There can't possibly be a more colorful persona who can match up to the antics of the very incredible Hulk Hogan. This is the man who perhaps, could singlehandedly be credited for bringing wrestling into mainstream entertainment. Having dabbled in the bizarre world of reality television in recent years, one can safely say that Hulkamania has indeed come full circle.

Completely over-the-top and totally larger than life to his fans, Hulk Hogan represented the all-American muscle machine - tall, tanned and blonde, with arms like "24-inch pythons". At the height of his popularity in the eighties and early nineties, Hulkamania had taken the world by storm. Besides a flourishing career as a professional wrestler, he also garnered fame through acting, music and brand endorsements.

Currently, he seems to have fulfilled every single requirement needed to attain celebrity nirvana these days with his reality shows and the very recently leaked sex tape. Fans of the erstwhile Hulkamania will, however, always remember the characteristic red and gold outfits, and his incredible feats inside the ring.

Hulk Hogan: Way Back Then

Terry Gene Bollea (Hulk Hogan) was born to Ruth Bollea and Peter Bollea in Augusta, Georgia on August 11, 1953. He had an early start in sports, beginning as a pitcher in Little League Baseball before moving on to becoming interested in wrestling. During those times, he idolized Billy Graham, and yearned to attain that "look", which he eventually did. Bollea's varied interests included playing the base guitar, and it is safe to say that he was good at it, with his band 'Ruckus' being a sensation of sorts in Florida way back in the late seventies.

It was in 1979 that Bollea was discovered by Vincent McMahon, Sr., owner of the World Wrestling Federation (WWF), as it was known then. McMahon, Sr. can also be credited with Bollea's christening as 'Hulk' Hogan, thanks to his resemblance with the famed comic book figure, and the last name was due to the Irish villain role-play that his character had to perform. In 1980, Bollea made his first appearance in the wrestling big league. His adversary was none other than the humongous André the Giant who got beaten fair and square.

The fight visibly impressed Sylvester Stallone, who cast Hulk Hogan in the role of Thunderlips in his movie Rocky III which released in 1982. This move led to a fallout between Hogan and McMahon, Sr., and Hogan became a part of American Wrestling Association. This alliance didn't last long as McMahon Sr.'s son, Vincent K. McMahon, who took over the reins of WWF, managed to lure Hogan back into their fold.

Hulkamania Begins ...

... And how! Wasting no time after his reentry in WWF, Hogan defeated Iron Sheik and became the champion in 1984. Hulkamania took the world by storm, with every kid wanting to imitate his signature actions like cupping their ear while nodding towards all the directions, and addressing everyone as 'brother'. All of a sudden, every little thing associated with Hogan became an overnight sensation as he went on making appearances in advertisements, on television, even lunch boxes. His red-and-yellow ring gear, trademark bandana, handlebar mustache, and his shirt ripping caused frenzy among the Hulkamaniacs, who adhered to his Demandments of training, praying, and eating vitamins. His trademark moves included Ax Bomber, Bear Hug and Big Foot, and his finishing move used to be the Leg Drop.

With time, he began to concentrate on his acting, and his flourishing wrestling career was reduced to minor appearances. His fan base gradually started to decline, and he finally made his exit from WWF amidst a well-publicized steroid scandal. He ruled as the WWF champion for four years, before, ironically, losing to André the Giant.

Hogan moved on to the New World Order as a baddie, and was now Hollywood Hogan. His departure from New World Order was eventful as well. It came after Hogan's feud with head bookie, Vince Russo.

WWE Comeback and Reality Television

The year 2002 saw the return of Hulk Hogan as a bad guy to WWE, as it was now known as. The fans, on the other hand, wanted him to relive his earlier days, and Hogan obliged. This return was followed by several exits and reentries; the more notable ones included a stint with TNA wrestling.

The reality show, Hogan Knows Best premiered on TV, which gave the viewers a peek into his personal life, along with his wife Linda, daughter Brooke, and son Nick. The theme of the show was based on the closeness of their family, and revolved mainly around the way the couple brought up their children.

Hogan: Up, Close and Personal

Terry Bollea married Linda Claridge in 1983. Their daughter Brooke was born in 1988, and son, Nick was born in 1990. In November 2007, Nick Hogan was involved in a car accident which resulted in serious injuries to his mate, John Graziano. He was indicted on four criminal charges.

Very soon after this incident, Linda Hogan filed for divorce, and blamed her decision on her husband's infidelity. Hogan married Jennifer McDaniel in December 2010.

Hulk Hogan's life has been nothing short of colorful so far, not too different from his ring image. For all the Hulkamaniacs in the world, he remains the most charismatic personality, who always put up an entertaining show; for which he will be remembered and revered for many years to come.

By Renuka Savant

Recovering after a Long Run or Walk

Running the marathon or doing the multiple day charity walk is only half the battle. Recovering is just as important.

Whether it’s your first marathon, half marathon, or multiple day charity walk - or your fiftieth - you must know how to recover when it’s over. If you don’t recover properly, you may find yourself with an injury you didn’t expect, which could keep you off the track for a long time to come. You may also find yourself so sore that you don’t know how to even get out of bed in the morning after the event. Don’t worry, though. With proper recovery, you’ll be back to your old self, and running or walking again, before you know it.

Don’t Underestimate Rest

Many people want to get right back on the treadmill or hit the pavement immediately after their event. If you are someone who cannot miss a workout, you should make yourself rest, at least for a day. Rest is extremely important as it gives your muscles time to rebuild themselves after lots of physical activity. Even in normal workouts, it is important to rest for a day or two in between workouts. Resting will actually make you stronger and help you build more muscle. Therefore, do not be afraid to rest after your event. Taking a day off will not hurt you, in fact, just the opposite. On your rest day, take the time to do some things that you have been putting off because of your intense training schedule. Clean the house, watch a movie, read a book, or work in the garden. Do something that is not strenuous to occupy your time.

Move a Little

Although you should rest, it is important not to lie in bed all day. It might be tempting, especially if you are sore, but not moving will only make you more sore and could cause an injury. When your muscles start to heal, they will tighten up and become difficult to move. If you lie around all day without getting up or walking a little bit, your muscles will tighten and, when you use them again, it’s possible to pull or even tear one. Instead of lying around, take a leisurely stroll around the block a few times a day, go for an easy hike, or walk the dog. You can even do some cleaning or work outside if you want to. It is just important that you do not remain still all day. Strike a balance between working your sore muscles too much and not working enough.

Visit a Doctor if Necessary

If you are experiencing pain or something else that doesn’t feel right, go see your doctor immediately. Many problems only get worse with time, and the longer you wait before seeking treatment, the worse it could get. Many people experience extreme pain or other seemingly unrelated problems - like shortness of breath or exhaustion - after completing an athletic event. Don’t think that these problems will go away on their own. Only your doctor can know for sure. It’s not a bad idea to have a doctor’s appointment set up for a day or two after the event in case you need it. You can always cancel it if everything seems fine.

Eat and Sleep

Just like you should never underestimate the power of rest, you should never underestimate sleeping and eating. If you have been walking for several days or running for several hours, your body has used many of its nutrients. If you find yourself craving a certain food, you are probably in need of a nutrient that food carries. Your best bet is to get that food and eat it. Sleep is also extremely healthy, as your body heals itself best during sleep. Take a few naps and you’ll feel as good as new in no time.

By Buzzle Staff and Agencies

How to Play Sports Safely in the Heat

Each summer, you hear news about a sports player being rushed to the hospital or passing out because the heat was just too much. Our bodies were not meant to be outside in the heat for long periods of time, so when it gets really hot this summer, be careful about playing sports or doing other activities outside. If you follow some basic safety tips, you’ll be safe and happy playing outside, for years to come.

Drink Water

This is the first thing that everyone says when it is hot outside, but drinking water is crucial to your health in the heat. While sports drinks like Gatorade are great for athletes because they replenish electrolytes, they are so sugary that they will actually dehydrate you more. Drink a few bottles of water for every bottle of sports drink you intake. This will ensure that you are getting your electrolytes, but also that you are well hydrated. Also, stay away from caffeine. Caffeine is a diuretic, and will therefore dehydrate you even more. Don’t drink soda, coffee, or iced tea when you’re playing outside, and for a few hours after you get inside too. A good rule of thumb to follow is that if you aren’t using the restroom every two hours, you aren’t drinking enough water.

Take Breaks

While it might seem like a good idea to push yourself to impress your coaches, they don’t want you injured any more than you want that to happen. Be sure to take ample breaks to let your body rest and to drink fluids. If you feel that your coach isn’t letting you take enough breaks in the heat, don’t wait until you feel awful to march to the sidelines. Once you feel bad, it’s usually too late. Just be honest with your coach when you need breaks. He’ll understand.

Don’t Sit in the Sun

When you do have a break, don’t sit in the sun. With the sun beating on you, you’ll only heat up and sweat more. Try to grab a seat in the shade under a tree, or even better, go indoors for a little while. Cooling yourself down can help you stay active longer.

Know the Signs

The signs of dehydration can be tough to recognize. They include a dry or sticky mouth, exhaustion, dry skin, headache, and dizziness. Signs of extreme or severe dehydration include confusion, shriveled skin, rapid heartbeat and breathing, and a fever. You might not always feel thirsty, so watch out for the signs of dehydration, and get yourself into the shade and get some water before it gets worse. 

Start Early

The earlier in the day you start your workout or practice, the cooler it will be. It might not be fun to get out of bed that early, but if you can start practice before the sun comes up, you have a few good hours to practice in the cool hours of the morning. Also, the earlier you practice, the earlier you can be done, which gives you some good recovery time when the heat gets bad in the afternoon. If you need more practice time, a good idea is to take a break when the heat is bad and come back to the field later in the evening, when the sun is setting. Just remember your bug spray; mosquitoes love it during the dawn and dusk hours.

Watch What You Eat

Eating foods that are high in water content - like fruits and vegetables, can help you intake more water. Eating foods that are high in starches and carbohydrates might give you energy, but they’ll soak up the water too, so get a good balance in your diet.

By Buzzle Staff and Agencies

Friday, July 6, 2012

Biography of Zinedine Zidane

Zinedine Zidane is, beyond a doubt, a biographer's delight. A classic rags-to-riches story interspersed with a lot of determination, raw talent, controversy that came in the form of racism and an illustrious soccer career that culminated in a flash of madness. Here's all you need to know about the legendary footballer, who the world hails as one of the best to have ever played the game.
Zinedine "Zizou" Zidane

Date of Birth: 23 June 1972
Nationality: French
Job: Soccer Player, Position: Midfielder
Awards: FIFA Player of the Year (1998, 2000, 2003), Ballon d'Or (1998)

Describing Zinedine Zidane can be done easily; all one needs is superlatives. But the man himself is the image of reticence, and shoulders his fame with a dignity that is not often associated with soccer players.

In a country deep-rooted in its traditional glory, Zidane stood out owing to his Algerian origins, emerging successfully to become France's most loved icon.

A soccer player remains in the limelight as long as he is a part of the playing eleven. But every once in a while, we get players like Zizou (as he is lovingly called in France), who are revered not only for their contribution to the game, but also for being the perfect role models and inspiring people for generations to come.

Being no stranger to controversy, Zizou's life has been full of just that, right from his childhood spent in an impoverished neighborhood of Marseille to the infamous headbutting incident in the 2006 FIFA World Cup final that marked the end of his professional career.

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I am first of all from La Castellane and Marseille.inverted quotes2

Zidane was born in the Mediterranean port city of Marseille to Algerian immigrants, Smaïl and Malika on June 23, 1972. The family lived in La Castellane, a suburb home to several immigrants, thoroughly infamous for its dangerous living conditions. Zidane was the youngest of five siblings, and describes his childhood as "sheltered", which he still considers to be a privilege, knowing the kind of environment the family lived in.

He began playing soccer along with his mates at a young age, and obtained his very first player's license for a La Castellane local club. Unlike his friends, however, Zidane simply focused on the game with complete determination and refused to fall for other distractions.

Being a beur (as French children of Arab immigrants are called) usually involves a lifelong struggle to prove your affinity to the country you're born in as well as the country your parents came from, and playing soccer is perhaps the only means to do so. As the son of immigrants, Zidane was taught to work twice as hard to prove himself, as is the accepted way for them.

Zidane credits most of his success to his family and his immigrant roots. His life in the harshness of La Castellane prepared him to deal with the implications of living as a French person of Algerian origin in France.

Zidane is married to Véronique Fernandez, and the couple have four sons; Enzo, Luca, Theo and Elyaz.

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I have a need to play intensely every day, to fight every match hard.inverted quotes2

As a young boy of 14, Zidane got the opportunity to play for a youth club in Cannes, where initial signs of his infamous temper began to appear. His early days here were spent completing punishments received for retaliating with anyone who derided his ethnicity. His debut with Cannes happened in 1989, but it took some time before he scored his first goal on February 8, 1991.

In the next season, he went on to play for Bordeaux under Rolland Courbis, a Marseillais like Zidane who recognized his genius. This is where he shifted the focus entirely on to his game, and began to play the trademark midfield combination with Bixente Lizarazu and Christophe Dugarry.

His move to Italian giants Juventus came in 1996 at a fee of 3.2 million pounds. His Serie A venture put him in the spotlight and he began to be recognized as the best midfielder in the world. He earned the title of Serie A Footballer of the Year twice.

By 2001, Zidane had established his reputation as a formidable footballer. His 75 million Euro transfer to Real Madrid created a splash in the media and among soccer lovers alike. Fans are still able to recall his famous goal scored with his weak foot that won Real Madrid the UEFA Champions League in 2002. The maiden hat-trick of his career came for Real Madrid in January 2006.

Zidane played his last match for Real Madrid on May 7, 2006, and his teammates wore shirts bearing the script ZIDANE 2001-2006 below the team logo in his honor.

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To be recognized by a whole country is incredible. This is massive.inverted quotes2

Zidane's first match for France was a friendly one against Czech Republic on August 17, 1994 in which he scored two goals.

The FIFA World Cup in 1998 was Zidane's first. The final was played at the Stade de France against Brazil, who put up a poor show right from the start, despite being favorites. Zidane, on the other hand, was brilliant, scoring 2 goals before halftime, leading France to a 3-0 victory. France now had a new icon.

The Euro 2000 was won by France, with two memorable goals by Zidane; the first, a free kick in the quarterfinals against Spain and the golden goal in the semifinals against Portugal.

France's 2002 FIFA World Cup campaign began on an unlucky note with Zidane suffering from a thigh injury that prevented him from playing in the first two matches. The French team struggled in his absence and he was brought in to play the third game while still being unfit. They were out of the World Cup at the league matches stage, earning them the infamous distinction of being the only champions to exit at the league stage, without scoring a single goal.

Zidane announced his retirement from international soccer after France's quarterfinal defeat against Greece at the Euro Championship in 2004.

Soon after, Zidane was coaxed out of his retirement after France started finding it tough to even qualify for the FIFA World Cup 2006. Zidane bowed to the request and was made captain of the team. His presence helped them qualify. Not only that, his penalty kick against Portugal in the semifinal helped France reach the final; this time against Italy.

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It is always the one who reacts who is punished, never the one who provokes.inverted quotes2

The 2006 FIFA World Cup final is remembered by many around the world, including those who do not follow soccer avidly. His fans looked forward to their hero playing in what was expected to be his last outing as an international player. And Zidane did not disappoint. His penalty kick in the seventh minute earned his team a 1-0 lead.

In the 110th minute, Italian defender Marco Materazzi was seen running a few paces behind Zidane, tugging at his shirt. A few moments later, Zidane turned and headbutted Materazzi in the chest, causing him to fall on the field. Zidane was red-carded following this incident, and could not participate in the penalty shootout which Italy nailed by 5 goals to France's 3.

The repercussions of this incident hit Zidane severely. The only justification he offered was that Materazzi's comments were extremely offensive, which pushed him to react in such an extreme manner. He also refused to apologize for his actions so as to avoid giving the impression of having pardoned Materazzi's actions.

The people's reactions to this incident were widespread and varied. While some, like French President Jacques Chirac understood that Zidane reacted to provocation, TIME magazine viewed it as a symbol of Europe's age-old struggle to embrace cultural diversity.

FIFA suspended him for three matches thereafter, but Zidane had already announced his retirement from the game and participated in a three-day community program with children as part of his penalty.

Zizou became a part of the Real Madrid veterans' team after his retirement. He also participated in several matches for charitable causes. During his active days as an international soccer player, he used to be one of the highest paid.

He has been the face of several high-profile brands like Adidas, France Telecom, Lego, Orange, Audi and Volvic. He's also the first man to have modeled for Christian Dior.

Zidane appeared in an advertisement for Louis Vuitton along with fellow soccer greats, Pelé and Diego Maradona, which was nothing short of a coup even for the high fashion brand.

Today, Zinedine Zidane is living the life of a retired footballer, and is enjoying watching his sons take to the game he loves above anything else. He modestly acknowledges his achievements, as he always has; however, to the soccer-crazy French people, he may no longer be their God, but he still is their true hero.

By Renuka Savant