DNA, NCAA lawsuit and Olympic ring malfunction?

DNA Testing: What Kind of Athlete Are You?

There’s some interesting news coming out of the UK regarding the testing of athletes’ DNA. A British company named DNAFit came up with a way to test 18 genes related to “sporting performance such as power, endurance, speed of recovery and susceptibility to injury as well as tolerance to various food types such as carbohydrates or saturated fats.” The results enable athletes to tailor their workout regime and nutritional intake differently so that the athletes optimize their full capacity. While some athletes desire to remain anonymous, 800 meter track star Jenny Meadows publicized her DNA testing, as well as discussing her results. Through the DNA testing, she discovered that her “power-to-endurance ratio” was excellent for a mid-distance runner (slightly higher endurance over power), and that her recovery time after exercising was equally excellent. However, the DNA testing revealed her susceptibility to soft-tissue injuries. Had she known that prior to the London Olympic Games, she would’ve went about her training in an alternative manner – perhaps not increasing the volume as much as she did. Armed with the knowledge, she can decrease the volume of her workouts but decrease the rest time in between repetitions, which still gives her a great workout.

Note: power-to-endurance ratio means that an athlete who has stronger endurance genes will reap greater benefits from harder endurance workouts, whereas athletes with “power” genes will experience greater gains in short sprint workouts and lifting weights. DNA profiling can help athletes determine which workout regimes will lead to an overall better athlete.

Athletes v. NCAA: Tackling the Money-Grubbing Beast

We are just days away from one of the most watched sporting events of the year: March Madness. Lurking underneath the surface of the collegiate competition is a lawsuit filed yesterday by four former collegiate athletes at big universities: Rutgers basketball player Johnathan “J.J.” Moore, Clemson football player Martin Jenkins, Texas-El Paso football player Kevin Perry and California football player William Tyndall. These four individuals, who are represented by Winston & Strawn (and Jeffrey Kessler, who has had wide success in representing players / unions in sports), are suing the NCAA in federal court for a number of claims.

The lawsuit focuses on the five most dominant conferences in the NCAA – Southeastern Conference, Atlantic Coast Conference, Pac-12, Big Ten and Big 12 – and calls them an “unlawful cartel.” The class action lawsuit seeks monetary and declaratory damages – a declaration that “defendants’ practices violate federal antitrust laws.” The lawsuit includes a request for an injunction stopping the NCAA “from prohibiting any of its member institutions from negotiating to give or providing compensation to football and basketball players”; the suit also rejects “the argument that the current rules ensure competitive balance.” Just look at the teams who made the NCAA tournament this year – if you know what conferences they came from, you’ll realize how favored conferences are due to how stacked those divisions are.

The lawsuit is but one of many lawsuits and battles the NCAA has against its former and current athletes, and it all centers around the huge issue: money. Colleges boasting prominent athletic programs make a substantial killing off student-athlete participation. For instance, the article mentions that Clemson’s athletic department  “generated more than $70 million in revenue, the vast majority of which came from football.” Another lawsuit by a former UCLA athlete continues to battle the NCAA for the “unauthorized use of college athletes’ likenesses in video games.” As I mentioned a bit ago, Northwestern University athletes are still working on the first unionization of collegiate athletes, in treating football as a business and the players as employees. The NCAA – more specifically, the larger schools in the dominant conferences that have elite football and/or men’s basketball teams – will not give up the opportunity to make money off these individuals easily. While some of the athletes do receive full tuition scholarships, stipends and meals on the road (in addition to other benefits) – the fact that the NCAA and its highly regarded member conferences make so much money that athletes never see calls into question whether the NCAA is really in it for the athletes.

Russian Businessman Tries to Capitalize on 2014 Sochi Olympic Ring Malfunction

In Russia, there’s an intriguing article about a Russian businessman whose questionable cleverness is unlikely to lead to the result he seeks. For those of you who saw the Opening Ceremonies (or the news that followed), you may recall that one of the Olympic rings failed to open up, and all that was shown were four Olympic rings and a closed ring. Recently, Dmitry Medvedev (unrelated to the prime minister) filed a patent application to permit his construction company (Miroviye Shedevry, or World Masterpieces) to use the four open rings and one closed ring as a trademark for its company. Although the company already began coming up with advertising for its speciality in constructing luxury cottages and pools, it wanted to ensure that its use would not run afoul with the International Olympic Committee.

World Masterpieces must remain patient, as the application process takes no less than twelve months to complete. During this time, World Masterpieces may use the image in its advertising, and must cease if the application fails. Vladimir Entin, an intellectual property lawyer, believes that the image is “too close” to the Olympic rings for a patent application to succeed – if that’s the case, the application will likely be turned down.

Japan is making huge strides to include more women in executive positions after suffering much criticism for its previous all-male executive board. Yesterday, Tokyo 2020 announced the appointment of seven women to its Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games.

Today’s post ends in a somber tone. Two runners died in half-marathon races over the weekend, and several needed immediate resuscitation after completing their races. Interestingly enough, it’s safer to run a marathon than it is to run a half; a runner has an approximate 40 percent higher chance of dying in a half-marathon in relation to a full one. And in case you didn’t hear, Colts owner Jim Irsay was arrested on Sunday for suspicion of driving while intoxicated, and faces four felony counts of possession of a controlled substance.

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