March 29, 2004
Early Wins Bolster Crew Teams
| March 29, 2004
The men’s crew teams dominated the waters of Cayuga Lake this weekend against competition from Ithaca College, Marist, and Michigan. The heavyweight squad faced off against Marist and Michigan, racing three varsity boats and two freshman boats. The Red swept four of the five races, with Michigan coming in second and Marist third in each contest. The only exception was the third varsity boat face-off, a close race in which Michigan edged the Red by less than one second.
“We were really excited,” said senior captain Chris Bender. “The results were really encouraging.” This weekend’s competition was the first race of the spring season for the heavyweight team. The team came into the weekend a little rusty because of its limited practice time on the water in recent weeks.
“They were tough competition, but a good warm up,” Bender said. “They weren’t a pushover, but it was a good way to start off the season.
“We haven’t been on water in so long it was good we didn’t have the hardest races of the season this weekend.”
The heavyweight team will be back in action next week versus Georgetown.
The lightweight squad enjoyed even greater success, winning all five of its races against Ithaca College and Marist.
“We were excited,” said senior Drew Tennant. “We were confident going in and it was reassuring to get through it and show we have a good base this early in the season.”
The Red won the first varsity race by a margin of three seconds, and continued to dominate for the rest of the day. Ithaca College took second and Marist third in each of the day’s contests.
The lightweight squad also raced three varsity boats and two freshman boats.
“It was a good early season race,” said Tennant. “Marist and Ithaca are not as strong as Harvard and Penn. The general strength of our program is better.
“We’ll have to step it up to another level versus Penn.”
The freshman lightweight boats had the most dominating performance of the day, as the Red won both races by a margin of nine seconds.
The lightweight team will have a weekend off from racing before facing Penn on April 10.
Archived article by Olivia Dwyer
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March 30, 2004
The recent and sudden death of men’s lacrosse co-captain George Boiardi ’04 highlights the rising dangers of a phenomenon only recently known as commotio cordis. Commotio cordis had been recorded in medical journals as far back as the nineteenth century — but had not been fully studied, understood, or named until recently. In the past five years, there have been four lacrosse players’ deaths attributed to this condition and six total recorded events, which are characterized by a sudden blunt trauma to the heart that causes an arrhythmia. This in turn leads to a sudden cardiac arrest. The effects of Boiardi’s death have rippled throughout the lacrosse community, with games across the country beginning with moments of silence in order to celebrate his memory. As the laxer’s death has caused the lacrosse community great pain, many have taken to discussing the details — and sometimes rumors — that are inconsistent with the coverage relating to his death. Boiardi fell to the ground after being struck in the chest with a lacrosse ball during the fourth quarter of a game between the Red and Binghamton. Paramedics performed CPR and administered defibrillation to Boiardi, but were unable to resuscitate him. He was pronounced dead at 6:44 p.m. on March 17 at Cayuga Medical Center. The Boiardi family has asked that information regarding the cause of death not be released to the public, and his death has not been officially attributed to commotio cordis. The family has requested that no autopsy be performed, and, without one, the cause of Boiardi’s death will remain mysterious. According to Sharon Dittman, associate director of Gannett Health Center, because no post-mortem will be performed, there is no way to know for sure what caused Boiardi’s death. This has not stopped many people from speculating. Dr. Barry Maron, director of the Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Center, Minneapolis Heart Institute and a leading researcher on the topic of commotio cordis, said that without an autopsy, the “best inference” is that Boiardi died of the medical phenomenon. Most experts in the field of cardiology have agreed with Maron, including Tufts University professor of medicine and leading commotio cordis researcher Dr. Mark Link, and Frederick Mueller, director of the National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research. However, this conclusion is not universally accepted. John Desko, the head coach of the Syracuse men’s lacrosse team, in a recent Daily Orange article, challenged the assumption that Boiardi died of commotio cordis, citing the fact that Boiardi bled after being hit, a characteristic not usually associated with this condition. He also stated that Boiardi had been hit in the side rather than in the chest. Desko did not return The Sun’s calls to his office. “There is absolutely no evidence of any of that. There was no substantial blood and no obvious damage to the heart,” Dittman said. According to Dittman and discussions with other eyewitness accounts, the ball did strike Boiardi in the chest. She said that there was no clear sign from where the blood came from, and added that, “there was not enough blood to bleed to death, and he died too quickly to have died from internal bleeding.” She speculated that the blood could have come from another trauma, possibly due to his fall to the turf. Maron based his comments on the details released in news stories covering the death of Boiardi, which make no reference to bleeding. According to Maron, who wrote the “modern description of commotio cordis” in a 1995 paper published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the condition is highly random and contingent on the convergence of three factors: location, timing, and shape of chest. Link added that whether someone suffers commotio cordis also relies on the softness of the chest. According to Maron, for a blow to the chest to result in commotio cordis, it must exactly hit the heart at a precise time during its cycle. In addition, the shape of the chest tends to be narrow. Since 1995, Maron and his associates have recorded 160 cases of commotio cordis. The phenomenon is not distinct to lacrosse; it also affects softball, hockey, football. It strikes baseball with the highest frequency. There have even been seven felony convictions involving cases of commotio cordis, said Maron. In all those cases, the defendant was either found guilty of first degree murder or it was plea bargained down to manslaughter. Maron said this reinforces the idea that this phenomenon not only affects the athlete, but also people performing normal activities. It is, however, most common in youth athletics — the highest frequency being 13-year-old boys. Maron cautioned that this is most likely a factor of exposure and not of their age. According to Link, 90 percent of cases of commotio cordis are recorded in youths under the age of 16. This is due in part to the relative softness of the tissue in and surrounding the heart. Steve Stenerson, executive director of U.S. Lacrosse, the governing body of lacrosse in the United States, spoke of how the base of the pyramid of competitive athletics in the United States is made up of youth groups. U.S. Lacrosse has become increasingly interested in this dangerous and hard to understand phenomenon. “This is a very significant issue for us, but we must resist the emotional response to say, ‘We must do something immediately,'” he said. He spoke of following courses of action such as working with other entities like the NCAA, and the NFSHA, looking at recent research, and considering the “biomechanical component.” U.S. Lacrosse and Maron are investigating whether or not a redesign of currently used chest protectors could sufficiently protect players from incidence of commotio cordis. Three of the five recent fatalities were goalies who are required to wear chest protectors. U.S. Lacrosse also supports the efforts of the Louis J. Acompora Memorial Foundation, founded by the parents of Louis J. Acompora, a high school goalie who died of commotio cordis in 2000, in lobbying and advocating for the placement of automatic external defibrillators (AED) at all lacrosse sights. Cornell recently invested in AED units, and one was used in Boiardi’s case. In perhaps the most famous case of commotio cordis, a youth baseball player was resuscitated by a police officer who happened to be driving by the site of incidence with a AED unit. An inside fastball had struck the 13-year-old directly above the chest, and had resulted in cardiac arrest. According to Link, if a victim is defibrillated within five minutes of incidence, there is a high probability of survival. Boiardi was defibrillated within a minute to a minute and half after being struck, Dittman said. Maron said that the average rate of survival of someone affected by commotio cordis is 15 percent. Researchers believe application of an AED is the best manner to revive a commotio cordis victim. Stenerson emphasized as did Maron that many players are struck in the chest every week without a single case of commotio cordis. Stenerson reiterated, “There is no immediate answer.”Archived article by Michael MargolisSun Senior Writer
March 30, 2004
Members of the Ithaca community met last night with Robert J. Freedman, executive director of the New York State Committee on Open Government, to discuss open government and related issues. Mayor Carolyn S. Peterson arranged the meeting, which she said was the first of what will be several public discussions on public issues. Open government is a policy which serves to make government more transparent. In New York State, it is legislated by the Freedom of Information, Open Meetings and Personal Privacy Protection Laws, all of which were covered at the meeting last night. The Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) states that any government record which can be released to the public without causing anyone harm must be made available to any individual who requests it, Freedman explained, while the Open Meetings Law declares that any meeting of government officials must be made open to the public — although certain portions of the meeting can be closed off for specific reasons, such as discussing private issues which concern a specific individual. The Personal Privacy Protection Laws restrict open government’s availability by declaring documents which concern private matters confidential and not able to be disclosed. Freedman said that there may be “different requirements for disclosure based on circumstances,” adding that the distinction between information that can and cannot be disclosed is a “gut” feeling. He cited Social Security numbers and medical records as examples of documents which may not be disclosed, explaining that “they’re nobody’s business. They’re intimate.” “What I hope you leave with tonight is [that the] Freedom of Information acts in New York are based on common sense,” Freedman said. Freedman started the evening by giving a brief description of his office, saying it answers questions that anybody — members of the public, government officials, and others — has about open government. The committee responds to questions by writing opinions on the matter which are then sent back to the affected parties and posted to the committee’s website. Freedman said that his office has put out more than 18,000 such advisories as of yet. “All we do all day, every day, is give advice to anybody,” Freedman said. The evening was held as an open discussion, with audience members asking Freedman questions about open government policies. Questions included government officials’ responsibility to answer questions or provide information, ways in which the government must make information available, and what portions of a government’s internal records — such as memos or instructions — can be withheld from the public, among others. Freedman stressed that the Freedom of Information Act pertains only to existing written documents. He warned that the Act’s name is misleading in that it does not pertain to all information. When one community member asked about a police officer who refused to speak to her on a particular issue, Freedman noted that the laws do not require government officials to share anything which is not a physical record. Another community member said that he once asked for a public document to be e-mailed to him during the previous administration, but that the city clerk said that the document was available at city hall and would not be e-mailed. Freedman responded by saying that the government must provide documents in whatever medium the individual requests, as long as the government is reasonably able to provide the document in such a medium and the individual is willing to pay reproduction fees. Asked about internal government records, Freedman said that certain documents did not have to be disclosed, including advice or opinions. He said that information which did have to be released includes statistical or factual information, instructions to staff which affect the public, final policy decisions and results of an external audit. Since nearly all documents and memos have at least some factual supporting evidence, Freedman said, nearly all documents must be made at least partially available. Fay Gourgakis, an Ithaca resident who attended the meeting, said that she liked the session, though she would have preferred if Freedman had started with a longer explanation of what his office does, rather than opening the meeting for questions so quickly. Gourgakis came to the discussion because she had heard of “huge amounts of trouble with FOIL” in the previous administration. “The public was kept out of the loop,” she said. Peterson organized the discussion because she noticed when she ran her election campaign that “there was a clear interest in Ithaca about open meetings and open information,” she said. Peterson invited Freedman to evaluate Ithaca’s open government policy, and added that he had met in the afternoon with city staff. Peterson said that that meeting was very well attended and that nearly every city department was represented, including about half of the Common Council. City clerk Julie Holcomb, whose responsibilities include providing documents under the open government acts, estimated that last year there were about 475 requests for information. She said that most are granted and estimated that less than one percent of all requests are denied. “There’s an absolute desire in this administration for open government,” Holcomb said. Archived article by Yuval Shavit Sun Staff Writer