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Concussion (was "Ridley Scott's Football-related Concussions Movie")


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As I edited a 13-part blog report by brain scientist and NYT-bestselling author John Medina about the destructive effects of football on players' brains, I lost my stomach for watching the game.

 

Since then, I've been getting snarky comments from friends about how I'm overreacting. But it seems like more and more headlines are showing that this issue isn't going to go away. Steve James made a movie about it. Today, Tony Dorsett's name is added to the list of those struggling with symptoms of chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

 

And now... here comes Ridley Scott with a film project of his own.

Edited by Overstreet

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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I've never been a sports guy anyway, but I've completely avoided the NFL for several years now based on this and several other reasons.  But dang, don't shout about this too loudly on Facebook or you'll quickly be cast out with the gays, communists, and other enemies of western civilization.  :)

 

I like that Ridley Scott is doing this... whenever I see another story about the NFL I always think about that scene in Gladiator when Russell Crowe throws his sword at the bloodthirsty crowd and screams, "ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?"

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whenever I see another story about the NFL I always think about that scene in Gladiator when Russell Crowe throws his sword at the bloodthirsty crowd and screams, "ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?"

 

Wow. That's fantastic. Why didn't I think of that?

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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whenever I see another story about the NFL I always think about that scene in Gladiator when Russell Crowe throws his sword at the bloodthirsty crowd and screams, "ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?"

 

Wow. That's fantastic. Why didn't I think of that?

 

IIRC, wasn't the gladiator a slave of some sort, with absolute murder involved, and not an athlete making googlabucks and living the high life?

 

I guess a case could be made for society, and certain segmants of the culture that find their way into sports. About how that's the way they were able to break out of the ghetto, about how sports became for them the way to become free from years of a certain kind of enslavement. But I think that's rather far-reaching. Especially these days when many ethnic groups are involved, including so many rich kids from the suburbs.

 

I love you, JO. But I never make it past the first sentence when you post about this on FB.

 

This really does seem to be the topic of much of AM sports radio right now.

In an interstellar burst, I am back to save the Universe.

Filmsweep by Persona. 2013 Film Journal. IlPersona.

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Since you never "make it past the first sentence," then I suppose I'll need to contain my thought here to one sentence, in which I emphasize that I'm not talking about players and their luxuries so much as I'm talking about the challenges put to the conscience of viewers of entertainment in which people are knowingly subjecting themselves to severe bodily injury that burdens their future health, their family, their friends, and beyond; that is to say, while I'm troubled that anybody would — for any kind of superficial rewards like "googlabucks" or a "high life" — smash their brains and sacrifice the gift of memory in their later years, I'm more troubled that I can easily be drawn in to enjoying the spectacle that such sacrifice produces, just as I would be troubled to watch some kind of strategy game in which players try to trick each other into drinking from cups that contains some small dose of poison over and over and over again... a sort of Hunger Games in which death is dealt out slowly instead of in killing blows; but I'm talking about my conscience, not yours, and how my love for the glory of the Image of God in the human body makes me grieve over the sight of people willfully damaging that gift for cheering crowds.

Edited by Overstreet

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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But don't bother reading my long-winded appeals for contemplation — read ESPN instead:

 

I see too much sorrow and ugliness to love football like I used to.

 

I watch Indianapolis quarterback Andrew Luck take a brutal lick now and I think of former Packers quarterback Brett Favre, who told a Washington radio show the other day he can't remember most of his daughter's soccer games. "That's a little bit scary to me," Favre said. "... That put a little fear in me." He's 44 years old.

 

I watch New England tight end Rob Gronkowski get up from wreck after wreck, and I think of former Colts tight end Ben Utecht, who said the other day he couldn't remember being at a friend's wedding until the friend showed him the photo album. See, you were a groomsmen. And you sang, remember? He's 32 years old.

 

I watch Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson fling himself into crashing whirlpools of men and I think of former Cowboys running back Tony Dorsett, who said he sometimes finds himself driving on a highway and can't remember where he's going. "I'm just hoping and praying I can find a way to cut it off at the pass," Dorsett said recently. He's 59 years old.

 

Edited by Overstreet

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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I haven't watched the HBO doc yet, but want to.  Football has always been around for me.  Played in high school.  Reffed a few years.  (I was a better ref than a player.)  The part of all this that bothers me is that although NFL players' brains take much more beating than those at lesser levels, kids are putting on helmets and being taught that they can use them from before middle school.  Concussions aren't rare at the high school level.  Even from the little bit I played, my body has a few aches and pains that I attribute to just ordinary football activity (a few herniated discs, for example, that will at times flare up into uncomfortable muscle spasms or very stiff neck, etc.) I don't really mind those aches and pains, but then I only played a few years at HS level.  Damage done by even minor brain trauma in younger players may not be as dramatic as what many former NFL players are going through (and NHL players, and no doubt a few MLB players - they just added concussion protocols this year with a special 7 day DL for concussions [but I've never seen a player cleared in 7 days]).

 

What all this rambling leads to is that the NFL stuff is a tip of the iceberg.  The arguement that they are grown men who can make this choice rings a bit hollow when you consider a 14 year old kid banging heads with another 14 year old kid because football seems cool.

A foreign movie can't be stupid.

-from the film
Armin

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And now... here comes Ridley Scott with a film project of his own.

 

As I said in another "Ridley Scott to direct..." thread, anything that puts Blade Runner 2 on the back burner is a good thing.

Formerly Baal_T'shuvah

"Everyone has the right to make an ass out of themselves. You just can't let the world judge you too much." - Maude 
Harold and Maude
 

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  • 6 months later...

Starring Will Smith. To be written and directed by Peter Landesman.

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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  • 1 year later...
  • 2 months later...

Jeffrey Wells says "the film is said to have a strong “faith” undercurrent…whatever that means." I think this is the first I've heard of that.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Further to Jeffrey Wells's comment, someone just informed me on Twitter that Dr Omalu, the Will Smith character, is "a man of strong faith," so it may indeed be that the film has preserved this aspect of his character.

So, what does Google turn up... (Alas, the current incarnation of the board has no handy way to do paragraph indents. I miss the old board.)

Frontline:

And again, my younger sister who has a Ph.D. in energy, international energy law, when I was fighting the battle of Mike Webster, I called and I said: "You know what? I'm getting tired." And she called me out immediately and said, "No, Bennet." She is religious, too. She said: "You think it's by chance that this is happening. Everybody has a calling, that the mighty God --" we are Christians -- "doesn't give you a cross to bear by reckless abandon. He gives you a cross to bear because he knows you can bear that cross. With your knowledge, you can help these people, and you're even in a better position because you don't have any direct or indirect emotional attachment to football."

I had been objective. Who knows, if I had grown up in this country and loved football, I could have just examined Mike Webster's brain and threw it away, blocked it out, because the impact, yes, it could end up eventually, in generations undermining football. But there is nothing in life that is more important than the life of somebody, even just one. You know the parable of the lost sheep. One sheep got lost. The parable, the shepherd kept 99 and went after the one. It is that one life lost is more valuable than any other activity. So these were the psychological forces, the emotional energy behind me.

Sacramento Bee:

“Most things in the sciences are serendipity – accidental discovery,” Omalu said in an interview. “It was by accident that I was working that day in Pittsburgh. I met him in death, and it’s my faith – I’m a Christian, a Catholic – that when you’re dead, the soul is alive, and your soul is around. So I talk to my patients. They are part of my endeavor. They are dead, but they are still alive in my mind. They are alive in spirit. So I spoke to Mike Webster. ‘OK, I’ve read about you. I’ve seen you. This is not fair to you. You are a victim of football.’”

From page 354 of Gary Pomerantz's Their Life's Work: The Brotherhood of the 1970s Pittsburgh Steelers:

Omalu put on his scrubs, stepped into the back room, and saw Webster's embalmed body ready for examination. Such a big guy! Omalu was a Christian, and emphatically so. He thought now of the spirit, as he always did at such moments, and of the biblical gospel Luke 20:36 -- "Neither can they die anymore: for they are equal unto the angels." He believed in spirits. When a body was on the examination slab, he believed the spirit floated like an angel through the room. He talked aloud to that spirit, his two technicians hearing his words. "Mike, we need to prove them wrong," Omalu said. "You are a victim of football. But nobody accepts it."

Interesting...

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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  • 1 month later...

'Concussion' Movie Subject Exaggerated Role, Researchers Say
BOSTON (AP) — In the trailer for the movie Concussion, star Will Smith says: "I found a disease that no one has ever seen."
It's a claim the real-life doctor portrayed by Smith, forensic pathologist Bennet Omalu, has himself made for years, giving a detailed description about how he came to name that disease "chronic traumatic encephalopathy."
But Omalu neither discovered the disease nor named it, according to scientific journals and brain researchers who were interviewed by The Associated Press. And though no one doubts that Omalu's diagnosis of Pittsburgh Steelers center Mike Webster was pivotal in understanding the dangers of football, fellow researchers and a medical ethicist say Omalu goes too far when he publicly takes credit for naming or discovering CTE. . . .
Associated Press, December 17

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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I've been concussed a few times playing rugby, most notably once when I was out cold for a moment and still have no memory of what happened between whatever happened and being led to someone's car to take me to A&E. Awareness of it has grown substantially in the few years since then. I was allowed to play on (until it became clear pretty soon after that I wasn't ok), whereas now it would be far less likely that I would have been allowed to though.

I guess it's something I'm constantly re-evaluating, but serious cases are still quite rare and you have to pit that against dying early of a heart attack through inactivity. Plus, and I know this sounds stupid, it's such a great game.

I'll keep an eye out for this one but I suspect it might not make it over here.

Matt

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My interview with the real-life Dr Bennet Omalu, the character played by Will Smith in the film.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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The New Yorker: "'Concussion' Makes a Christian Argument against Football"

 

Quote

“Concussion” appears, on its face, to be a story of an expert whistle-blower confronting a powerful, entrenched corporation—and there are moments when it seems to be a lesser, more earnest version of “The Insider,” from 1999, in which a scientist played by Russell Crowe takes on the tobacco industry. (“Concussion,” at several points, draws a comparison between the N.F.L. and Big Tobacco.) The movie’s release, coming just as the N.F.L. season churns toward the playoffs, was supposed to be the moment when the science of football’s concussion crisis reached its widest audience yet. But, surprisingly, the movie’s moral arguments are framed less as matters of medicine than of religious faith. It’s not a sports movie, or a medical thriller, so much as a Christian homily. And its principal question is, in a way, about just how much God cares about football.

[snip]

...“Concussion” repeatedly presents these conflicts in religious terms. In real life, Omalu is a devout Catholic, and in interviews about the movie, he has talked about the ways in which his faith has directed his work. He has also praised Will Smith, telling the Christian Post, “We met, we shared and we communed the love of God, and he also saw the light. The spirit of God also touched him.” (Smith himself has noted that his grandmother’s Christian faith inspired his performance.) Rather than simply conveying Omalu’s religiosity as an aspect of his character, though, the filmmakers shaped the entire movie as an expression of it.

 

Edited by NBooth
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