By now most football fans understand the long term implications of concussions; particularly chronic traumatic encephalopathy, otherwise known as CTE. The degenerative disease has been linked to repetitive head trauma suffered by professional football players, and has been blamed for the suicides of several high profile players, including Dave Duerson and Junior Seau.
The research and the struggle for changes in professional football are being presented in the new movie, “Concussion” which is scheduled to be released on Christmas Day. Trailers advertising the movie, starring Will Smith as the physician who discovered CTE, are being showing shown on primetime NFL telecasts. These have created some awkward moments during injury timeouts. Basically, a player may be down with an injury, the network will take a break from the action, and the first commercial to be seen is essentially an indictment on head trauma.
One would expect the National Football League to balk at commercials bemoaning its past treatment of concussions, but surprisingly, it has not. The Hollywood Reporter explains in a recent article that network television broadcasts are the proverbial “canary in the coal mine.” So when the commercials on “Concussion” were well received during Thanksgiving Day football broadcasts, it means that the country may be ready to engage in further discussions about the effects of continued head trauma.
Having these conversations is more than just important. They could have long lasting legal implications. Essentially, if a sports league or organization knows about the implications of head trauma and does nothing to correct the risk, it could be held liable.
In the meantime, get ready to see more commercials for the movie during football broadcasts.