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Shelf Pick


If you love football, you may want to take a seat for this one. Or maybe even schedule a check-up with your doctor, because this one will shock you. Concussion stars Will Smith in a role not typically played by a celebrity like Smith. He plays Dr. Bennet Omalu, a forensic pathologist who has noticed a weird pattern in the death of players in the NFL. He decides to go against all wishes in discovering that these players were suffering from a condition not ever discovered until now by Dr. Omalu. The condition goes on to be called Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. A few major themes come up throughout the film that makes this film essential for our shelf. Such themes include the severity of a conflict of interest, mental health and when to question the system.

Why did we put Concussion on The Shelf?

You may be wondering about what was meant by the mention of the severity of a conflict of interest. In the film Concussion, Dr. Omalu discovers a rare brain condition brought on by brain damage that can be accumulated by hits a person takes while playing the game of football. He goes forward to publish his research and bring awareness to the condition. He discovers quickly that bringing awareness to the condition may be harder than he thought. This is due to the National Football League working alongside with the neuroscience community in America. This creates a huge conflict of interest and for the remainder of the film, it is Omalu fighting against the neuroscience community for the awareness of this new discovery. He goes on to receive constant threats and fights for the ability to save lives.

Concussion belongs on The Shelf because...

With the new year 2020, we are finally at a point where mental health is spoken about more openly. In the film Concussion, we watch the downward spiral of multiple NFL players due to a lack of an important conversation when they needed it. Multiple suicides begin to take place by typically healthy males who played in the NFL at some point in their life. This brings up the conversation of not only mental health for the general population, but why the men did not come forward with feelings of depression when it got bad. We live in a culture where it is seen as unmasculine to come forward with feelings at times. As time goes on, the culture improves with normalizing the discussion of mental health in men, but there is still a long way to go. We love staying physically healthy through exercise like playing sports, but negative effects on mental health can totally cancel that out. A message like this from the film is why it will remain on our shelf.

Throughout the film, it becomes clear that the NFL association does not necessarily have the players’ best interest at heart. Rather, they are more business focussed over everything. This reminds us that it is important to keep our own safety and health as a priority when joining a sport because although there remain amazing coaches and teams in many sports, only you can really make yourself your top priority. Dr. Omalu was the only man who fought for the awareness of CTE but almost EVERYONE went against him. People tried to cover up what he knew. Therefore, it is up to you to take your own health and safety into account. We can’t all have a Dr. Omalu on our side.

Melissa's Final Thoughts

Concussion is a film based on real-life events that are crucial to be aware of if you want to get into a sport with a lot of physical contact. It tells the incredible story of the discovering of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy and the fight for its awareness. You better sit down and watch this one like your life depends on it because it just might. It’s on our shelf to ensure you put it on yours.

On The shelf