The film Concussion is based on the ‘true story’ of Dr. Bennett Omalu- a forensic pathologist who is said to have discovered important information about the dangers of playing professional football. Dr. Omalu, played by Will Smith in the film, discovers Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) in former NFL players during a period when football player safety was not paramount.
When I attend a movie, I want to experience one of three feelings- inspiration, belly laughter or edge-of-seat excitement. None of these feelings were felt as I sat and watched the film Concussion.
Here are 5 reasons, you should skip the movie Concussion:
- The movie Concussion perpetuates the ongoing myth that youth football is a dangerous, life threatening sport. The film includes videos of horrific youth football hits, implying the ridiculous notion that youth football is in the same league as college and the NFL. In Dr. Omalu’s recently published New York Times OP page article, when speaking against youth football he says – ‘It is our moral duty as a society to protect the most vulnerable of us.’ The filmmaker fails to mention how fast the sport of football is evolving, recently we are seeing Pop Warner and AYF rule changes, improved coaching methodologies and practices, rigorous coaching certifications, and technological improvement of equipment. Read about our trip to Virginia Tech, and the football helmet safety studies by Dr. Stefan Duma.
- This movie presented outdated football drills, rules and facts with the insinuation that these practices are still used today. Concussion is essentially about football 15-20 years ago, in an era of old school, stay in the game and play at all costs football, a mindset that we are swiftly moving away from. That ‘warrior, play when you are hurt’ mindset is no longer taught, particularly at the youth football level.
- Quotes by Dr. Omalu such as ‘God did not intend for us to play football’, followed by ‘men will continue to die..’ invokes ridiculous, unwarranted fear for youth football parents.
- Dr. Bennet Omalu has never played the sport of football, therefore he is unable to speak to the numerous benefits of playing the game. He does not understand that youth football teaches numerous life lessons such as discipline, teamwork, responsibility, and more.
- This Slate.com article points to a study of thousands of ex-NFL players in 2012 that states NFL retirees lived ‘significantly longer’ than similar others in the population. However, this fact and many other facts was not presented in the film. In any case, this is a movie about the NFL and not youth football.
We expect the NFL to step up an even greater position for professional player safety, as this film highlights CTE to the masses. In 2015, there were many disappointments. We question why the NFL chose to not use helmet sensors this season, a step that would have collected a ton of valuable data and potentially assisted to correct dangerous impacts. And player punishment in the NFL is still no where where it should be. Recently, Odell Beckham Jr launched himself, head-first toward an opponent’s head in an act of frustration. The NFL suspended Beckham for just 1 game. This should have been a much more severe penalty.
Concussion implies that all football is unsafe, when that simply is not true. The fact that they group the NFL with high school and youth football simply is an unfair, as there is no comparison.