After seeing only the seven minute trailer for an upcoming documentary film about football, I won’t view the sport the same way again. “Gladiators: The Uncertain Future of American Football” is a documentary that explores the history of football and the current state of the sport in light of all of the emerging knowledge about concussions and brain injury.
In the film, George Visger, who played for the 49rs says, “There’s an old saying, it’s not if you get injured, it’s when you get injured.” Injuries of some kind are unavoidable in a violent contact sport such as football. George, despite undergoing nine brain surgeries due to injuries from the sport, goes on to state that he loves the game of football. The love of this game certainly runs deep, and some have been resistant to attempts to make it safer. An interesting point made in the trailer that will be explored further in the documentary is a statement that recent rule changes and helmet upgrades have actually made the game more dangerous for its participants.
What I am struck by when I think of ex-football players struggling with the effects of brain injury and depression is their probable unwillingness to seek help. Men, as a general rule, tend to be resistant to seeking mental health treatment. When you combine that tendency toward resistance to asking for help with the severe difficulties they are dealing with, it creates a recipe for isolation that is ending with an increasing number of deaths by suicide. For me, I don’t think I will be settling in with my nachos to watch a football game this season, because, rather than being entertained, I would be thinking of these men, their families and the tragic effects of this sport.
Take a look at the trailer for “Gladiators: The Uncertain Future of American Football.”