Tagline “How much are you willing to lose for a game?”
If every time you took to the field to participate in the sport that you love but knew that you could potentially be slowly killing yourself, would you still play with the same level of determination and grit? Is the modern sports culture of winning above all else causing untold emotional and physical damage to millions of athletes globally?
“Head Games” is the new sports documentary directed by Steve James of “Hoop Dreams” fame. This time the focus is not the path of would be athletes struggling to the top of their chosen game and profession but on head related traumas and injuries which can be sustained on the field of play.
The dangers of brain damage and concussion are highlighted throughout the piece as doctors, parents and coaches struggle to understand how some seemingly perfectly fit young people, full of life, can either take their own lives or pass away suddenly. The levels of rewards at the highest level of professional sports are so vast that people are willing to take any risk and sacrifice their bodies and minds to achieve their goals.
The film is based on the book by Christopher Nowinski, a former Ivy League footballer and WWE wrestler and his struggles with traumatic heads blows and their subsequent repercussions on his life. Nowinski is now a co-director of the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy at Boston university which carries out research on the impact of head injuries and traumas
The recent case of Eric Boogaard, an ice hockey ‘enforcer’ who played for the New York Rangers but who sadly passed away at the age of 28 brought this subject much more to the fore. If Boogaard had lived on, he would have suffered major emotional and mental health issues due to years of sustained trauma, all at a very young age.
As athletes push themselves to their limits to reach their own personal goals and dream; how many wonder about the type of damage they are sustaining on themselves. A person’s body may ‘break’ but damage to the mind can be permanent and lethal.