American Football: The Truth

Many people love to watch the famous game of American Football. It is the number one sport in North America. But it is also played and watched in many other countries around the world: Canada, Germany, Great Britain, Mexico, Austria, Japan, Brazil, China, France and Australia (source abcNews). The Super Bowl is the most-watched television program in the United States history.

We watched a movie called Concussion, and it changed our entire view of American Football. From positive to seriously negative! Have you seen it? 

Wikipedia describes the movie Concussion as:

Concussion is a 2015 American biographical sports drama film written and directed by Peter Landesman, based on the exposé “Game Brain” by Jeanne Marie Laskas (an American writer, journalist, and professor), published in 2009 by GQ magazine.

Set in 2002, the film stars Will Smith as Dr. Bennet Omalu, a forensic pathologist who fights against the National Football League trying to suppress his research on chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) brain degeneration suffered by professional football players. It also stars Alec Baldwin.

The film premiered at AFI Fest on November 11, 2015 and was released by Columbia Pictures on December 25, 2015. The film grossed $48 million worldwide and received mixed reviews, although Smith earned a Golden Globe nomination.

Concussion: the movie about the danger of American Football

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE):

CTE, which they discuss in the movie, is a brain condition associated with repeated blows to the head. It is also associated with the development of dementia. Potential signs of CTE are: problems with thinking and memory, personality changes, and behavioral changes including aggression and depression. (source Alzheimer’s Association website)

What defines a concussion?
“A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury—or TBI—caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or by a hit to the body that causes the head and brain to move rapidly back and forth. (Hectic, right!!!!) 
This sudden movement can cause the brain to bounce around or twist in the skull, creating chemical changes in the brain and sometimes stretching and damaging brain cells.” (source: from the fantastically detailed website of the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention – read more here CDC website)
Concussion from American Football can lead to depressionn
Will Smith:
Will Smith was surprised that the movie did not get the reaction he expected, as he says in an interview with the Independent:

“I thought Concussion would have a bigger impact,” the Suicide Squad actor told the publication. “I knew it would be hard because people love the game, but the science is so overwhelming, and it’s something that we really need to take a look at. I thought that people would get behind the mission of that. I was surprised that people were absolutely like, ‘Nope, I’m not stopping watching football, so I don’t want to know.’”

The NFL (National Football League) has not supported the film:

But the NFL’s Player’s Association did come to the support of the movie. The film had several screenings for American Football players prior to its general release and Sony offered free admission to members of the NFLPA during the film’s entire theatrical run. (source Cinema Blend)

National Football League

Dr Bennet Omalu:

Bennet Ifeakandu Omalu (born September 30, 1968) is a Nigerian-American physician, forensic pathologist and neuropathologist who was the first to discover and publish findings on chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in American football players while working at the Allegheny County coroner’s office in Pittsburgh. (Wikipedia)

NFL writer Mike Freeman wrote that,  “The time frame for Concussion is 2002 to 2012. In that period, the NFL, after Omalu’s paper detailing CTE was released, attempted to smear Omalu. This went on for a decade. The movie causes a range of emotions: frustration, sadness and happiness, especially after Omalu is vindicated. For me, the most powerful emotion was maybe anger. My main thought: No one has been held accountable for what was a decade of lies from the NFL about CTE. What I’m about to say isn’t overstatement or trolling: If the NFL wasn’t deceptive about CTE, it’s possible lives would have been saved. If the NFL had taken Omalu’s work more seriously, maybe some of the players who did take their lives would not have—maybe they would have been better prepared or supported in facing their illness.” (source Bleach Report)

Suicide from injuries after playing American Football

Suicide and dramatic changes in personality:

This is definitely worth reading in a article: 

Doctors at Boston University’s CTE Center have since examined 79 deceased NFL players’ brains and found CTE in 76 of them. Many died by suicide or had dramatic changes in personality after retirement.

In 2009 — after Congress grilled NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell during hearings — the league abruptly changed course, finally acknowledging the problem.
It’s since made some rule changes to reduce the number of players’ concussions, put new protocols in place to make sure concussed players are properly diagnosed, and donated money for concussion and CTE research.
Still, it seems unlikely that these moves will halt development of CTE entirely. Scientists don’t really understand how repetitive brain trauma causes the disease, but Ann McKee of Boston University, among others, suspects that milder, subconcussive hits can cause CTE over time. If that’s the case, then nothing short of eliminating contact might make football truly safe
Even as the NFL has worked to cut down concussions, it has fought a public relations battle, trying to convince fans and parents that football can ultimately be a safe game. But the league has had to contend with all sorts of people — from President Obama to former quarterback Brett Favre — saying they wouldn’t want their children to play football because of the health risks.
If enough parents keep their kids away from football, it could pose a threat to the long-term popularity (and profitability) of the sport. The last thing the NFL wants, as its season is about to start, is a Will Smith blockbuster about how football is dangerous.
Depression from head injuries in American Football
Concussion, the movie, changed to appease the NFL:

To end this post off, from Wikipedia:

More recent research and thinking also looks at the steady accumulation of subconcussive blows, in addition to symptomatic concussions, as a major contribution factor in the development of CTE. 

For example, a 2018 study found that each year an athlete played tackle football before age 12 predicted earlier onset of CTE symptoms by an average of two-and-a half-years, but not symptom severity. These CTE symptoms include cognitive, behavioral, and mood problems.

After comparing the script (from the Sony Pictures hack) with the released movie, Deadspin claimed the movie was edited to appease the NFL, including reducing prominence of Roger Goodell and Paul Tagliabue in the film, as well as changing or removing dialogue. 

The New York Times discovered emails directly referencing removing “unflattering moments for the NFL” and removing “most of the bite” out of the film “for legal reasons with the NFL”. 

Landesman stated the changes were made “to portray the characters and story as accurately as possible to reduce the chance that the league could attack the filmmakers for taking too much creative license”.

So… now that you know the facts about American Football and the serious injuries that players can leave the game with, will you spread the word, or act upon it for the safety of your children or those that you know that play the sport?

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