July 3, 1968 |
White Plains, New York
|Residence||New York, New York|
|Alma mater||University of Pennsylvania|
|Employer||New York Times|
|Known for||Popularizing concern for sports concussions, baseball writing|
|Home town||Scarsdale, New York|
Alan Schwarz (born July 3, 1968) is a Pulitzer Prize-nominated reporter at The New York Times best known for writing more than 100 articles that exposed the seriousness of concussions among football players of all ages. His investigative and profile pieces are generally credited with revolutionizing the respect and protocol for head injuries in almost every major youth and professional sport. Schwarz's work was profiled in an early 2011 issue of The New Yorker and was described by one Hall of Fame sports writer, Murray Chass, as “the most remarkable feat in sports journalism history.” The New York Times promoted him to National Correspondent for Education in July 2011.
Schwarz's background in mathematics is considered one of his strengths as a reporter, particularly in his investigation of football brain injuries. Schwarz's father taught him how to compute square roots when he was 4 years old, and after becoming interested in baseball as a teenager he wound up as the statistician for the baseball team at Scarsdale High School, where he graduated in 1986. Schwarz graduated cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania in 1990 with a B.A. in mathematics. It was at Penn that Schwarz began covering sports for the school newspaper, The Daily Pennsylvanian. He decided to pursue a career in journalism rather than to follow his original plan of becoming a high school math teacher.
Schwarz spent five months at The National Sports Daily before being hired by Baseball America in 1991, where he served as the senior writer until he joined the Times in March 2007. He covered baseball exclusively from 1991 through 2006, writing not only for Baseball America but ESPN The Magazine, Newsweek and many other national publications. As a contributing freelancer to the Times, he helped begin the Sunday biweekly column "Keeping Score" – along with current Times business columnist David Leonhardt – where they applied statistical analysis to ongoing sports news. He also was the very popular host of ESPN's Baseball Today, the No. 1 rated individual-sport podcast on iTunes in 2006.
In 2004, Schwarz published his first book, The Numbers Game: Baseball's Lifelong Fascination with Statistics. The book covers the history of statistical analysis in baseball, including the stories of Henry Chadwick, George Lindsey, Earnshaw Cook and Bill James, as well as the development of The Baseball Encyclopedia in the 1960s. Drawing widespread acclaim, the book was named by ESPN the "baseball book of the year" in 2004. His second book, Once Upon a Game: Baseball's Greatest Memories, was published in April 2007.
Schwarz's series on football concussions began in January 2007 with a front-page Times story on brain damage found in former Philadelphia Eagle Andre Waters, who recently had committed suicide at the age of 44. (The exact name of the disease is chronic traumatic encephalopathy (C.T.E.), an incurable and progressive disorder in which protein deposits gradually compromise brain function.) After gathering steam with profiles of current and retired players suffering from post-concussion syndrome and early-onset dementia, the series put concussions on the front burner of football debate and evolved to examine not just N.F.L. issues but the dangers of head trauma in high school and other youth sports, like girls' soccer and basketball. Subsequently, the U.S. House Judiciary Committee devoted three hearings to the issue of sport-related brain injuries, repeatedly citing Schwarz's work during them.
In November and December 2009, under significant legislative and public pressure, the N.F.L. ended its denials of the long-term risks of football: It revamped its rules regarding concussion management, suspended its study of retired players' cognitive decline which Schwarz had exposed as improperly designed, and accepted the resignations of the two co-chairmen of a league committee that had conducted questionable research. The N.F.L. also began running the first public service announcement warning young athletes about the dangers of concussions. Following this, state legislatures all over the nation began enacting statutes to require education and stronger rules to keep young athletes safer.
In 2010, a major investigative piece by Schwarz evidenced what were called glaring lapses in the safety testing of football helmets among players of all ages. The story prompted an investigation by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the introduction of bills in both houses of Congress covering football helmet safety and a call for inquiry by the Federal Trade Commission  for false and misleading advertising by manufacturers.
In 2011, in another development in the concussion space, Schwarz covered how "former Bears star Dave Duerson sent text messages asking that his brain tissue be tested for C.T.E. before shooting himself in the chest." Duerson was later found by Boston University researchers to have had the disease.
- Alan Schwarz, The Numbers Game: Baseball's Lifelong Fascination with Statistics. New York: St. Martin's, 2004 & 2005. ISBN 0-312-32223-2.
- Alan Schwarz, Once Upon a Game: Baseball's Greatest Memories. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin, 2007. ISBN 978-0-618-73127-5.
Awards and recognition
- 2007 Associated Press Sports Editors Award for Project Reporting
- 2008 New York Press Club Award for Journalism
- 2009 George Polk Award
- 2009 Associated Press Sports Editors Award for Project Reporting
- 2010 Society of Professional Journalists Deadline Club Award for Sports Journalism 
- 2010 New York Press Club Award for Journalism
- 2010 Associated Press Sports Editors Award for Project Reporting
- 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service (Finalist)
- 2011 Society of Professional Journalists Deadline Club Award for Public Service
- "To Schwarz, numbers aren't just part of NFL brain-trauma story -- they are story". Archived from the original on 2010-02-05. Retrieved May 22, 2013.
- The Numbers Game Features Strat-O-Matic.
- Bronx Banter Interview
- Schwarz, Alan (January 18, 2007). "Expert Ties Ex-Player's Suicide to Brain Damage". The New York Times.
- Schwarz, Alan (December 3, 2009). "N.F.L. Issues New Guidelines on Concussions". The New York Times.
- Schwarz, Alan (December 20, 2009). "N.F.L. Suspends Its Study on Concussions". The New York Times.
- Schwarz, Alan (November 25, 2009). "N.F.L. Head Injury Study Leaders Quit". The New York Times.
- Schwarz, Alan (January 31, 2010). "States Taking the Lead Addressing Concussions". The New York Times.
- Schwarz, Alan (October 20, 2010). "Helmet Safety Unchanged as Injury Concerns Rise". The New York Times.
- Schwarz, Alan (March 15, 2011). "Helmet Safety Is Focus of Two Bills in Congress". The New York Times.
- Schwarz, Alan (January 3, 2011). "Senator Tom Udall Wants F.T.C. Inquiry on Safety of Football Helmets". The New York Times.
- Schwarz, Alan (February 20, 2011). "Before Suicide, Duerson Asked for Brain Study". The New York Times.
- Schwarz, Alan (May 2, 2011). "Dave Duerson Found to Have the Brain Trauma He Suspected". The New York Times.