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Head Games

Director: Steve James Run Time: 95 min. Format: DCP Rating: PG13 Release Year: 2012

Starring: Christopher Nowinski, Dr. Ann McKee, Dr. Robert Cantu, Robert Ster

Hoop Dreams director Steve James tackles traumatic brain injuries as public health crisis in HEAD GAMES.

Christopher Nowinski was the first WWE professional wrestler to be a Harvard graduate — they made a big deal out of it, even calling him Harvard Chris when in the ring. After a brief career in the squared circle, Nowinski retired from the WWE when he began suffering with post-concussion syndrome. In the years since leaving WWE, Nowinski self-published Head Games: Football’s Concussion Crisis, chronicling his own struggles with concussions as well as those by other prominent professional athletes.

The book caught the attention of Hoop Dreams director Steve James, who expanded Nowinski’s research in his own feature length documentary. Cutting across a wide range of contact sports – both professional and amateur, male and female – James highlights the pressure that athletes feel to power through injury, the devastating effect of repeated trauma on developing brains, and the long term physical cost of chronic traumatic brain injury.

Part of Nitehawk’s February A FOOTBALL PROGRAM brunch series.