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iStock/ThinkstockBY: DR. TAMBETTA OJONG

(NEW YORK) -- Team sports build character, teach discipline and keep your kids healthy, but for some sports, like soccer and football, they could also increase their risk of brain injuries. Helping to prevent these injuries, a new neck collar has shown promising results in protecting the brain.

The specialized collar, developed by researchers at the Children’s Hospital in Cincinnati, applies pressure to the back of the neck. This pressure allows the artery in the neck to safely backfill the brain with blood, turning the blood into a cushion that makes it less likely for the brain to move upon impact.

The idea for the collar was born out of “biological mimicry,” Dr. David Smith, a visiting research scientist at the Children’s Hospital who led a study that tested the collar, told ABC News.

Essentially, Smith and his colleagues looked to nature to solve a medical issue. “If a woodpecker could repeatedly hit its head and not sustain any head injury, why couldn’t this be applied to humans,” Smith said.

The study involved 75 teen girls ages 14 to 18 who played for two local high school soccer teams. Only one team received the collars, and then they played soccer. Both teams were asked to undergo brain scans at the beginning and end of the season, as well as during the off-season.

The scans showed that while the brains of the team that hadn’t worn the collars showed signs of damage from head impacts, the brains of the team that had worn the collars remained the same.

The results are encouraging considering that even minor impacts over the course of an athlete’s career can have long-lasting effects on their cognitive functioning.

Concussions have emerged as a major health concern across the United States, according to the American Academy of Physicians. Emergency departments report more than a million visits annually for traumatic brain injuries, most of which are concussions.

Women’s soccer is the third most common cause of concussion in the U.S., and it’s estimated that 1.6 to 3.8 million sports-related concussions occur each year.

There is a debate as to whether the changes shown in the brain scans can result in long-term cognitive decline. However, the areas of the brain that were affected in this study are involved in behavior, personality, expression, decision-making, and long-term memory.

The Academy of Family Physicians states that a concussion is a functional injury rather than a structural one, meaning that it can correlate with symptoms such as changes in sleep, confusion, depression, inability to focus and headache, to name a few. If you’ve experienced a blow to the head and feel some of these symptoms, then see a doctor and ask about concussion.

The study did not account for hormonal fluctuations in the girls, which could affect intracranial pressure. It also didn’t look more deeply into whether or not the observed in the brain led to behavioral or physical symptoms.

That said, if wearing the specialized collar can protect the brain from injuries while athletes continue to enjoy competitive sports, it may be a small price to pay for long-term protection. In the near future, a neck collar may be just another part of your child’s uniform along with cleats and knee pads.

Dr. Tambetta Ojong is a family medicine resident at SUNY Downstate Medical Center and a member of the ABC News Medical Unit.


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Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- She's only 3 years old, but LeBron James' daughter Zhuri is already making a name for herself online.

The King has been posting about her a lot recently, whether it be style, her ability to be sassy, or just her doing a "Frozen" duet with dear-old dad.

On Tuesday, the NBA Champion and all-time great wrote, "She controls the music when she rides with me. The Boss aka Baby 'Love is an Open Door' from Frozen soundtrack #MyPrincess."

In the ridiculously adorable clip, little Zhuri sings along with the soundtrack, while dad bobs his head and smiles.

In just about a day, it's gotten more than 5 million views.

But she's not just a good singer! Zhuri wowed at the "Smallfoot" premiere last month, rocking a denim dress on the blue carpet.

Around the same time, James added another post, boasting about his little girl.

"How is my 3 year old this fashionable though?!?! She asked if she could dress herself today for school. Man what!! She’s AMAZING!! #PrincessZ," he wrote.

He's right, how is a 3-year-old so fashionable? Someone call "Project Runway."

Zhuri isn't new to the spotlight though. In 2016, after James won the NBA Finals, he brought her to the media room and the reporters saw how much of a doting father he was.

It's very reminiscent of Riley Curry's rise to fame.

So, while their dads battle it out on the court, Riley and Zhuri will just be hanging out, bringing the cute comic relief.

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Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images(SAN FRANCISCO) -- It was a moment in time that, even if you haven’t heard the story, you’ve probably seen the images.

The date was Oct. 16, 1968, and Tommie Smith and John Carlos had just won the gold and bronze medals, respectively, at the Mexico City Summer Olympics. They had just finished the 200-meter sprint and earned the United States two spots on the medals podium.

But standing on the podium, the runners wore only their socks to shine a light on poverty in black communities. They wore clothing to protest lynchings — Smith a scarf, Carlos beads.

And with the national anthem playing in honor of their victories in the background, they dipped their heads and raised their fists — Smith his right, Carlos his left — each one covered in a black glove.

“It was probably the first and the most overt display of protest ever at the Olympic Games ... It was very much revolutionary,” said Brad Congelio, assistant professor of sports management at Kutztown University, whose research focuses on the Olympic Games. “Using the Olympics as a way to show discontent goes completely against what Olympism is meant to stand for.”

Fifty years after Smith and Carlos stood on that podium, raising their fists in what some would call a black power salute, history seems to have come full circle in the actions of one man you've most likely heard of: former San Francisco 49ers star quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

“Colin Kaepernick’s kneeling is the exactly the same sort of symbolic protest as the black power salute from the 1968 Olympics,” said Leland Ware, who was in college at the time, and is now the Louis L. Redding Chair for the study of law and public policy at the University of Delaware.

“What’s ironic is the protest is for essentially the same thing as it was in 1968: racial oppression in America and the violence inflicted on African Americans by police," Ware added. "It shows you that 50 years later, there have been some changes, but these issues are just as powerful now as they were then.”

The lead-up to the 1968 Olympics was fraught with chaos. The year before, nearly 160 riots broke out across the U.S. in what came to be known as the "long, hot summer of 1967." The largest of the riots happened in Newark, while the most infamous was in Detroit, where 7,200 people had been arrested, 1,200 were injured and 43 killed.

Then, on April 4, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, sparking a new wave of protests across the country.

“There were race riots in every major city in America,” Ware said.

Smith and Carlos were not the only athletes to wear symbols of protest during the Olympics, but they were the only ones to be castigated for it.

“As the anthem began and the crowd saw us raise our fists, the stadium became eerily quiet,” Carlos wrote in his 2011 book, “The John Carlos Story,” according to the Washington Post. “For a few seconds, you honestly could have heard a frog piss on cotton. There’s something awful about hearing 50,000 people go silent; like being in the eye of a hurricane.”

The men were ordered to leave the Olympic Village and forced to leave Mexico within 48 hours after their credentials were taken away, according to the New York Times.

Once home, they essentially had to start their careers from scratch as they were both banned from running track. After attempting to play in the NFL, Smith became a coach and Carlos a high school counselor, among other jobs the two had.

They also received hate mail, death threats and experienced harassment.

“They were racist, they were vile, and they were just disgusting displays of racism ... But there were a handful of supporters, too,” Congelio said. “One of the supporters wrote that white Americans simply couldn’t understand the terrific agony that black Americans felt at the time ... [they] just didn’t understand what [the athletes] were trying to prove and what their protest was about.”

Kaepernick, believed to be the first athlete to kneel during the national anthem, has also felt the blowback. He, too, has received death threats, according to ESPN.

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color," he said, according to NFL News. "To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way."

"There are bodies in the street, and people are getting paid to leave and getting away with murder," he said, referring to victims of police brutality — the reason he says he started the protest.

Kaepernick hasn’t played a game since the end of the 2016 season.

In the five decades since the Olympic protest, technology, of course, has advanced. In addition to the images of Kaepernick and like-minded athletes taking a knee being seen on televisions across the country, today's demonstrators use social media as a tool.

“I think that social media allows athletes, to a certain degree, to take control of their own messaging, and counter these often negative stereotypes and misrepresentations, and directly challenge them,” Kaepernick said.

Despite not playing in the NFL for two years, Kaepernick has been able to capitalize on the movement he started. In early September, he was the face of Nike’s 30th anniversary “Just Do It” campaign.

By the end of the month, Nike’s market value had jumped an additional $6 billion, according to CBS, as crowds of people went to support the brand — and Kaepernick, of course.

Opponents of Kaepernick and other kneeling athletes, however, have burned their shoes and clothing to boycott the company.

It may have been more difficult 50 years ago to measure the impact of Smith's and Carlos' protests. But the Olympic stage put the athletes "in front of the eyes of the world," Congelio said.

And their legacy speaks for itself, he added.

“Fifty years later, Smith and Carlos are largely looked back as civil rights heroes for what they did,” Congelio continued. “So 50 years from now, it’s going to be interesting to see if Kaepernick is seen the same way.”

On Thursday, Kaepernick received the W.E.B. Du Bois Medal from Harvard University for his contributions to black history and culture. In his speech, he encouraged more people with a platform to stand up against racial injustice.

“I feel like it’s not only my responsibility, but all our responsibilities as people that are in positions of privilege, in positions of power, to continue to fight for them and uplift them, empower them,” he said, according to USA Today. “Because if we don’t, we become complicit in the problem.”

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Monica Schipper/WireImage/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Olympian Aly Raisman joined the growing calls to oust new interim USA Gymnastics President Mary Bono -- just three days after she was named to take over the floundering organization.

Raisman, a two-time Olympian and three-time gold medalist, took to Twitter on Monday to support Kaylee Lorincz, a gymnast who alleged she was sexually assaulted by convicted felon Larry Nassar while she was a teenager.

Lorincz posed a question on Twitter to new interim USA Gymnastics President Mary Bono about her time working at law firm Faegre Baker Daniels. Scott Himsel, a former employee of the law firm, helped to craft excuses for why Nassar was missing work while he was under investigation, according to a report in the Indianapolis Star.

Lorincz asked on Twitter: "You owe me an explanation of why you and your firm allowed Larry to abuse me in 2016 after you were well aware that he was abusing little girls."

Raisman amplified the question, saying they were "waiting impatiently."

Bono has not responded to the question, but USA Gymnastics said in a statement to ABC News: "Bono's work for the firm was not related to the 2015 investigation."

Raisman, who has taken a lead in the gymnastics' community with advocating for the girls who were abused by Nassar, asked why the sport's governing body would hire Bono, knowing about the appearance of impropriety of her working for the law firm.

"Why hire someone associated with the firm that helped cover up our abuse?" she asked.

Bono, who served as a congresswoman in California from 1998 to 2013, was hired on Friday as interim president and CEO after Kerry Perry was forced out last month. Perry led the organization for just nine months before stepping down after criticism from victims abused by Nassar over Perry's lack of transparency about how the organization planned to protect athletes going forward.

"It's absolutely the duty of USA Gymnastics, after the horror of the Larry Nasser saga, to double check, triple check, to go above and beyond, making sure that the person they're picking, even as an interim CEO, is above reproach," said Christine Brennan, a USA Today columnist and ABC News contributor.

Raisman was among those who publicly criticized Perry, as well.

In another scandal for USA Gymnastics, Mary Lee Tracy, hired by Perry as the organization's new top coach in late August, reached out to Raisman, who is in the process of suing USA Gymnastics, which led to the dismissal of Tracy just three days after accepting the job.

Fellow gold medalist Simone Biles came out against Bono for a separate incident on Saturday. Biles, who is sponsored by Nike, criticized Bono for coming out against the shoe company using Colin Kaepernick in its latest ad campaign. Bono had shared a photo at the time the news broke of her coloring over a Nike swoosh with black marker. Bono deleted the tweet on Saturday and apologized.

"I regret the post and respect everyone’s views & fundamental right to express them," she tweeted. "This doesn’t reflect how I will approach my position @USAGym I will do everything I can to help build, w/ the community, an open, safe & positive environment.

The entire board of USA Gymnastics was forced out by the U.S. Olympic Committee earlier this year in the wake of the Nassar scandal. Nassar pleaded guilty to multiple allegations of sexual abuse in two different cases, resulting in a maximum sentence of over 150 years, as well as a guilty plea over child pornography. He was sentenced to 60 years in prison for the federal child porn charge.

USA Gymnastics said a search for a permanent replacement for Perry was ongoing.

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Tim Bradbury/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- USA Gymnastics just can't seem to get out of its own way when it comes to establishing new leadership.

The honeymoon lasted just one day for USA Gymnastics interim President Mary Bono, who was appointed on Friday and came under fire from the sport's biggest star on Saturday.

Simone Biles, a four-time Olympics gold medalist and the only woman in history with 10 World Championship golds, responded to a tweet by Bono from earlier this year in which she posted a photo of her drawing over the Nike swoosh logo on a pair of shoes in protest of the company using Colin Kaepernick in an ad campaign.

Biles responded with "mouth drop" before saying, "Don’t worry, it’s not like we needed a smarter usa gymnastics president or any sponsors or anything."

Bono deleted the tweet hours later and issued an apology.

"I regret the post and respect everyone’s views & fundamental right to express them," she tweeted. "This doesn’t reflect how I will approach my position @USAGym I will do everything I can to help build, w/ the community, an open, safe & positive environment.

"Hey all, I know the Tweet will live on but have taken it down to move the focus to all I hope to accomplish on behalf of a great sport & those who are dedicated to it," she added. "I look forward to telling my gymnastics story, my vision for the future of the sport and why I wanted the job."

Bono, a Republican, served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1998 to 2013 in California's 44th and 45th districts. She replaced her late husband, singer and entertainer Sonny Bono, after he died in a skiing accident.

Kaepernick, the former NFL quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, riled Republicans -- including President Donald Trump -- over the past two years for taking a knee during the national anthem before games as a protest against the treatment of minorities by police. Nike chose Kaepernick as the new face of an advertising campaign prior to the start of this year's NFL season.

Biles signed with Nike in November 2015. She is one of several prominent team members sponsored by Nike, including fellow 2016 Olympic gold medalist Laurie Hernandez, who announced she will be returning to competition last week.

Bono's blunder, an apology 24 hours into her tenure, is just the latest in a cavalcade of errors by USA Gymnastics, the Olympic sport's governing body. Bono was installed, at least temporarily, as a replacement for Kerry Perry, who was forced out in September after just nine months in charge.

Perry's tenure was marked by a series of missteps over the handling of the Larry Nassar case and criticism from victims abused by the former physician over Perry's lack of transparency about how the organization planned to protect athletes going forward.

The resignation came just days after she hired Mary Lee Tracy as USA Gymnastics' women's elite development coordinator. Tracy is a longtime gymnastics coach who had voiced support for Nassar after he was arrested in 2016 on sex-abuse charges, which brought immediate condemnation from star gymnast Aly Raisman.

USA Gymnastics' entire board was forced out by the U.S. Olympic Committee earlier this year in the wake of Nassar's conviction for sexual assault.

Bono told The Associated Press in an interview in November 2017 that she was the subject of repeated sexual harassment by an unnamed House colleague while serving as a congresswoman.

The search for a permanent replacement for Perry is ongoing.

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Here are the scores from Saturday’s sports events:

AMERICAN LEAGUE
Houston 7, Boston 2

NATIONAL LEAGUE
L.A. Dodgers 4, Milwaukee 3

NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE
Vegas 1, Philadelphia 0
Edmonton 2, N.Y. Rangers 1
Ottawa 5, L.A. Kings 1
Boston 8, Detroit 2
Carolina 5, Minnesota 4
Toronto 4, Washington 2
Tampa Bay 8, Columbus 2
Vancouver 3, Florida 2
Montreal 4, Pittsburgh 3
Nashville 5, N.Y. Islanders 2
Dallas 5, Anaheim 3
Chicago 4, St. Louis 3
Buffalo 3, Arizona 0
Calgary 3, Colorado 2

TOP 25 COLLEGE FOOTBALL
(1) Alabama 39, Missouri 10
(13) LSU 36, (2) Georgia 16
(3) Ohio St. 30, Minnesota 14
(5) Notre Dame 19, Pittsburgh 14
Iowa St. 30, (6) West Virginia 14
(17) Oregon 30, (7) Washington 27
Michigan St. 21, (8) Penn St. 17
(9) Texas 23, Baylor 17
(10) UCF 31, Memphis 30
(12) Michigan 38, (15) Wisconsin 13
(14) Florida 37, Vanderbilt 27
Virginia 16, (16) Miami 13
Southern Cal 31, (19) Colorado 20
Tennessee 30, (21) Auburn 24
(22) Texas A&M 26, South Carolina 23

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Colin Kaepernick/Twitter(SAN FRANCISCO) -- Colin Kaepernick, who helped lead the San Francisco 49ers to a Super Bowl but made even bigger headlines protesting against social injustice, was among those honored on Thursday for their significant contributions to black history and culture.

Kaepernick and comedian Dave Chappelle headlined a list of eight individuals who received the W.E.B. Du Bois Medal at Harvard's Hutchins Center for African & African American Research.

Joining Kaepernick and Chappelle, as reported by ABC Boston station WCVB-TV, were Kenneth Chenault, the chairman of General Catalyst; Shirley Ann Jackson, the president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute; Pamela Joyner, the founder of Avid Partners; Florence Ladd, a psychologist and author; Bryan Stevenson, the founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative; and Kehinde Wiley, an artist.

"Love is at the root of our resistance," Kaepernick told students on Thursday. "People live with social injustice every single day, and we expect them to thrive in situations where they're just trying to survive."

Past honorees include Muhammad Ali, Maya Angelou and Sonia Sotomayor.

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ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Two-time Olympic medalist Laurie Hernandez is returning to gymnastics.

The 18-year-old made the announcement on "Good Morning America" Thursday, saying she is "currently training."

"Crossing your fingers for 2020," Hernandez said of the future Olympics, which will be held in Tokyo.

Besides winning a gold and silver medal, Hernandez has a new children's book out titled, "She's Got This." The name of the book is inspired by the gymnast visibly reciting "I got this" to herself before each event at the U.S. women's gymnastics team at the 2016 Summer Olympics.

"Whenever I'm competing, I'm pretty much terrified before I go up there," Hernandez said. "And so, it's making sure that I can calm myself down before I hop onto the equipment. And for me, that's a lot of self-talk and self-preparation and it's being my own hype man."

"She's Got This" is about a gymnast who experiences setbacks, but keeps going.

This is the second published book for Hernandez, who also won Season 23 of "Dancing With the Stars."

But that's not all: Hernandez also has her own Barbie doll.

"She has my curls, which is really important to me," Hernandez said. "When I was little, I always wanted to straighten my hair because I saw everybody had that but now I get to embrace that."

On "GMA," Hernandez also showed adorable young fans in the audience how to appropriately stick a landing.

"She's Got This" is available now.

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ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Here are the scores from yesterday's sports events:

   AMERICAN LEAGUE

 Final  Houston  11  Cleveland     3
 Final  Boston   16  N-Y Yankees   1

   NATIONAL LEAGUE
 Final  L-A Dodgers   6  Atlanta   2

   NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION PRESEASON
 Final  Dallas      115  Philadelphia   112
 Final OT  Brooklyn    110  Detroit        108
 Final  Indiana     111  Cleveland      102
 Final  Charlotte   110  Chicago        104
 Final  Washington  110  N-Y Knicks      98
 Final  Miami        90  Orlando         89
 Final  Sacramento  132  Maccabi Haifa  100
 Final  Phoenix     117  Golden State   109
   
   NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE
 Final  N-Y Islanders   4  San Jose   0
 Final  Boston          6  Ottawa     3
 Final  Buffalo         4  Vegas      2
 Final SO  Anaheim         3  Detroit    2

   NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE
 Final  New Orleans   43  Washington   19
   
   MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER
Final  Seattle    4  Houston    1


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Grant Halverson/Getty Images(NEW YORK) --  Eric Reid, a defensive back with the Carolina Panthers, took a knee on the field on Sunday during the national anthem before a game against the New York Giants.

The game marked Reid’s return to the NFL after an uncertain few months as a free agent which he believes were because of his continued protests against racism and police brutality.

Reid’s contract with the San Francisco 49ers expired in March and he remained unsigned until two weeks ago, when he joined the Panthers on a one-year contract.

The news of Reid rejoining the NFL came amid speculation by some fans and players that the 26-year-old had not been signed due to his activism on the field.

"I think we all know why he hasn't received a call," Carolina Panthers wide receiver Torrey Smith, a member of the NFL Players Coalition, said days before Reid was signed by the Panthers, echoing a suggestion previously made by others in the coalition, including Devin McCourty from the New England Patriots, and Malcolm Jenkins from the Philadelphia Eagles.

“The notion that I can be a great signing for your team for cheap, not because of my skill set but because I’ve protested systemic oppression, is ludicrous,” Reid tweeted in March.

Reid was the first to join teammate Colin Kaepernick in taking a knee during the National Anthem in 2016.

He continued his protest even after Kaepernick’s contract wasn’t renewed at the end of the 2016 season, and he and other players who followed suit have become targets of President Donald Trump, who launched an ongoing battle with the NFL in September 2017 for allowing the protests. In August of this year, Trump said that players who don’t take a knee should be “suspended without pay.”

Reid and Kaepernick filed a grievance against the NFL in May, claiming that league owners colluded to keep them from playing because of their protests on the field.

Reid said last week he wasn't sure whether his protests for social justice would include taking a knee during the national anthem but added that he doesn't plan on dropping his grievance against the NFL even after getting signed.

Kaepernick, who has remained unsigned, has continued to work for social justice issues, becoming a symbol of the modern civil rights movement.

On Sunday, Kaepernick tweeted his support for Reid’s protest.

"My Brother @E_Reid35, with @KSTiLLS and @iThinkIsee12, continue to take a knee against systemic oppression. They are unwavering in their conviction! #ImWithReid," former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick tweeted on Sunday, in support of Reid.

ABC News has reached out to the NFL for a request for comment, but a call was not immediately returned.

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