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Head Games Movie Review: Most Appreciated My Candor

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As I expected, my review of Head Games: The Movie has generated a lot of mail in the last two days, many from respected health care professionals and experts around the country.  Most wrote to congratulate, thank, and/or applaud me for having the courage to post such a thorough, candid, and critical review, one which was informed by my years covering the concussion issue, not by all the media hype surrounding the film. Just as predictably, some of the mail I received was not quite so flattering.

Teen football player sitting at locker

One I liked in particular was from Brenda, a mom of five in Nebraska with three sons playing football. She was one of MomsTEAM's very first followers when we launched twelve years ago. At the time, her twins were just starting sports. Now, twelve years later, the twins are seniors in high school, a son playing football, and a daughter playing soccer. She wrote to say:

We were thinking of renting Head Games until I read your review. Thank you. Your reviews are brutally straightforward and your concern for keeping all children active and safe speaks volumes. I would expect nothing less from you or MomsTEAM. I have come to trust that staff reporters skim the issue and report what others are too lazy to report on accurately. I'll donate the money saved to our boosters.

Another wrote to remind me that the movie "was not really meant to be educational and helpful to parents. It was meant to shock and grab attention."

Along those same lines was another e-mail observing that "sensationalism sells, not safety and common sense."  

A leading concussion researcher wrote in support of my view of the movie as scaring parents: "Parents and kids should not be scared away from sports. Quite to the contrary, we do this research to find ways to make the sports a safer place and teach the athletes to become wiser players. 

A well-known sports medicine doctor wrote this: "It is only over the last month that I have come to realize how difficult your job can be," and how much he appreciated what he called my "direct, honest, apolitical, and heartfelt review" of Head Games and the flood of concussion books that have been published in the last couple of years.

For me, Head Games simplifies, sensationalizes, and speculates, and gets in the way of reasonable solutions to the concussion challenge. 

Having said that, I am not so naive that I don't also appreciate that it is money, as the song from Cabaret goes, that "makes the world go around," and that it is the sensational which sells movie tickets.

Do some parents, coaches, athletes, game officials, and administrators need to get their heads out of the sand and face up to the fact that head trauma - any head trauma - in sports needs to be taken seriously? Absolutely. Might Head Games be the wake-up call they need? I hope it is.

But from my perspective, I continue to believe that there is a better way to get the message across.

My mission, and MomsTEAM's, has always been and will continue to be to provide the objective, well-researched concussion information sports parents need to decide what is best for their family and for their child, to make a decision rationally based on facts, not emotion, motivated out of concern, not driven by fear.

If it means I continue to take flak from those who think that, by saying that Head Games was not the movie I hoped it would be, I am in any way minimizing the challenges concussions pose, or being unfair, it is a price I will gladly pay. 

Brooke de Lench is the Founder and Publisher of MomsTEAM.com, and the author of Home Team Advantage: The Critical Role of Mothers in Youth Sports. Her e-mail is delench@MomsTEAM.com.