Head Games (2012)
From acclaimed director Steve James, Head Games is a revealing documentary about the silent concussion crisis in American sports. Athletes from the professional to the youth levels share their personal struggles in dealing with the devastating and long-term effects of concussions, an epidemic fueled by the 'leave everything on the field' culture so prominent in American sport. Inspired by events from the book 'Head Games' written by former Ivy League Football Player and WWE Wrestler Christopher Nowinski, the film contrasts eye-opening evidence and cutting-edge science on head trauma from the nation's leading medical experts with first-hand accounts from the athletes, coaches, and parents who must tread the difficult balance between sports excellence and basic self-preservation. -- (C) Variance … More
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Critic Reviews for Head Games
It's solid and interesting work in the main, but Head Games can't help but feel like a come-down after The Interrupters.
Director Steve James centers this documentary on Nowinski, but there are affecting profiles of various NFL and NHL veterans who are living with the damage -- or may have died from it.
The documentary by Steve James paints a devastating picture of the long-term consequences of head injuries among pro NFL players.
One of the more fascinating aspects of a thoroughly entertaining movie is how incomprehensible James' proposed changes are in a country where many would list their necessities as food, shelter and Monday Night Football.
Finally, there's a sports movie for people who are caught between admiration and fear of athleticism.
"Head Games" gains credibility and power from compassion for athletes and respect for their accomplishments. But it also tries to open the eyes of sports lovers to dangers that have too often been minimized and too seldom fully understood.
The film struggles with the contradiction of knowing the serious risks while enjoying the games as participant and spectator.
The film paints a dire picture that will strike fear into the hearts of many parents. How many concussions are too many? The documentary suggests the magic number might be one.
A bit more palatable than most "let me teach you a lesson"-style non-fiction films.
It's exciting to watch big, powerful guys bash into each other, and a well-executed hit makes an excellent addition to any highlight reel. The problem is that the human brain is not designed to absorb repeated impact.
There may not be a more important documentary release this year for the general health of (especially sports-playing) American kids than Head Games, an impactful look at the trauma inflicted by repeated concussions.
If you have children involved in contact sports, you must see 'Head Games.'
Players risk their health and their very lives, in futures hard to imagine when they're eight or 12 or 24. Head Games means to change those futures, for players and sports alike.
It's certainly wholesome food for thought for anyone with kids in sports.
Its steady, methodical style, however, does justice to its overall aim, which is to touch a nerve that has been desensitized by the media's valorization of athletes as tough guys.
Seeing former NHL star Keith Primeau's teenage son light up to talk about how fighting is "pretty fun" gives us the conclusion the statistics can't yet provide: before the games can change, we need to.
I have two young boys, and when they express interest in playing sports, it will be impossible not to remember what I learned from this film.
James is primarily concerned about bringing awareness, and he does so with an intelligent presentation of the best data available and genuine concern.
Asserts this as a problem that isn't going away and, especially for those who suffer from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, is virtually guaranteed to get worse.
[Head Games] owes more to Michael Moore's advocacy work than D.A. Pennebaker's cinema verite style, but in its own way, it's just as powerful a portrait of what sports mean to the people who play them.
Sobering look at how concussions affect athletes, from the director of Hoop Dreams.
Audience Reviews for Head Games
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