Location Privacy. Does Your State Allow Warrantless Searches Of Cellphones?
New Justice Department Policy Requires Warrants For Some Stingray Uses

Hacked Emails Indicate Sony Softened Its Upcoming Film To Avoid Irritating the NFL

Sony Pictures logo The New York Times reported on Tuesday:

"When Sony Pictures Entertainment decided to make a movie focusing on the death and dementia professional football players have endured from repeated hits to the head — and the N.F.L.’s efforts toward a cover-up — it signed Will Smith to star as one of the first scientists to disclose the problem... even Sony, which unlike most other major studios in Hollywood has no significant business ties to the N.F.L., found itself softening some points it might have made against the multibillion-dollar sports enterprise that controls the nation’s most-watched game. In dozens of studio emails unearthed by hackers, Sony executives; the director, Peter Landesman; and representatives of Mr. Smith discussed how to avoid antagonizing the N.F.L. by altering the script and marketing the film more as a whistle-blower story, rather than a condemnation of football or the league."

It its upcoming film "Concussion," Will Smith starts as doctor Bennet Omalu, a real forensic pathologist who first discovered a neurodegenerative disease called chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in the brains of football players. If you have watched the 2013 PBS Frontline documentary, “League of Denial: The NFL’s Concussion Crisis,” then you have a good idea what will happen in the film, assuming it sticks close to the facts. If you haven’t see the documentary, you can learn more online.

Many people feel the league dragged its feet while investigating the disease, its impacts, and solutions. You can read my views about the league, its efforts, and its settlement agreement with former players. I stopped watching games during the 2013 season.

National Football League logo Of course, Sony is free to make the film it wants to make, and the upcoming film seems more entertainment than documentary. If you want a documentary, watch the Frontline episode. Sony's "Concussion" will debut in December 2015. I see two takeaways from the report in the New York Times:

  1. Sony "blinked" fearing pressure from the N.F.L.
  2. Hacked e-mails have a long shelf life and relevancy: a consequence of Sony's 2014 data breach

What are your opinions? The official trailer for the upcoming film is below.


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Chanson de Roland

I won't take up the question of what the N.F.L. knew or when it knew it, because I am not sufficiently in possession of the facts. But spearing and other hitting with the head or to the head, which is believed to be the cause of CTE, was never mandated by the N.F.L. It was much more a the attitude of players themselves and teams which saw that type of hitting as sign of toughness and as a way to inflict punishment on opposing players within the bounds of the then existing rules. And it was a sign of toughness and it did inflict licit punishment on opposing players, and that toughness and regulated violence is what we love about American football and, for that matter, a lot of other sports, such as mixed martial arts (MMA).

But now, there is no question that the N.F.L. is aware of the problem, as are players and teams. The N.F.L. has outlawed the type hits to or with the head that are believed to be the cause of CTE and has instituted concussion protocols which are administered by board certified neurologists, who are independent of the teams and the N.F.L. and who used their own expert medical judgement in evaluating players for injury and who independently determine whether a player can play. Players also, in response to the changes in the rules, which can include expulsion from a game or even multiple game suspensions, and out of regard for their own health have changed are changing how they play so as to avoid the type of hit with the head and/or to the head that are believed to cause CTE.

Will this be enough to protect players from themselves and over zealous coaches? It is believed that it will be. Yet no human activity and certainly no sport is without risks. If you forbid risks, then other dangerous sports, such as auto racing, downhill skiing, boxing, MMA, etc. would also have to be prohibited on that grounds. So the question is not whether any football player will ever again be injured but whether professional American Football, under its new rules and practices, is acceptably safe. I think that may be true, but only time will tell.

As for sports and the violent and macho aspects of many of them, along with the physical skill and dedication that it takes to perfect them at highly competitive level, along with the virtues camaraderie and team spirit of team sports, and along with the integrity of victory being decided on the field of play or of battle, I, along with most of America, celebrate those aspects and virtues of sports, for those are just the virtues that are called upon to be successful in many of life's endeavors and in defending ourselves, our families, and our nation. Football requires, develops, and hones many, if not all, of those virtues.

So happy football season. I know that I will be watching and hope that you will be too.


Studies have shown that the brain injury happens in some students long before getting to the NFL. See:

Study of Former NFL Players Shows Risks for Brain from Youth Football

High School Football Players Face Bigger Concussion Risk

Experts don't know which hits and how many. Some are concerned that regular contact practice contributes to the problem.

Yes, the sport promotes certain values: dedication, commitment, perseverance, and camaraderie. Problem is, nobody truly understands the risk yet. So, if the risks cannot be adequately conveyed to youth, then players (youth and older) cannot make informed decisions.


Chanson de Roland

As for lower levels of football, such as high school and college, I would hope that they are reforming their rules so that their practices and play on the field imposes no greater risks than the new rules that govern pro football. If they haven't, they should do so.

As for the speculative studies about contact practice, they highlight a couple of noteworthy things. First, contact practices are limited and full contact practices are exceedingly rare because no coach wants to risks injury to his player, non-head injuries, prior to the game. I played football years ago and know that full contact was rare even then and one never hammered a teammate as you would an opposing player, unless you wanted an excessive amount of bench time. So, in the first instance, full contact practices don't happen very much any more, even less now than it once did, but it does happen to get players ready for game conditions. Yet anyone going on and on about full contact practice probably doesn't know what he is talking about. Second, there are no persuasive studies about football as played under the N.F.L's new rules, if for no other reason than they are new, which means that no one could have possibly conducted a longitudinal study of the new rules affect on players' possible brain injury. Or as the Editor put it himself: Experts don't know. Nor do they have any reason to believe that heads-up football, for loss of a better term, will result in any brain injury. I suspect the same would be true for college and high school football. But, of course, in high school or college football coaches, team officials, and leagues should be even more solicitous of their players' health.

As I said earlier, life and certainly sports involves risks. The question is whether those risks are appropriate and permissible for the activity, sports or otherwise, in question. There is nothing in the Editor's citations, supra, to suggest that, under pro football's new rules, pro football is unduly dangerous to players' neurological health, under the circumstances of sport, where one plays sports, except perhaps for shuttle board, knowing that participating in any vigorous sport will involve risk of injury. Thus, we have sports medicine.

I used to practice Aikido, and though the sensei and senior instructors and the students were careful not to hurt each other, people, nonetheless, got hurt, which is true of all vigorous martial practice in the martial arts. That is, there is an increase risks of injury yet we continue because we think that it, practice, is worth the risks. For those who don't, they needn't practices. For those who don't think that football is worth the risk or who just don't like it, they needn't play or watch it. But surely, they, whether it be football or the martial arts, aren't trying to make the rest of us conform to their value by suggesting that we don't play or practice or watch. Surely that attempt to impose one values on others by outlawing football or practice or play isn't being suggested. Surely that bigotry isn't being proposed.

The comments to this entry are closed.