Wednesday, 26 December 2018

Headstrong by Patrick Link


Headstrong by Patrick Link
Published by L A Theatreworks in February 2014.

How I got this book:
Downloaded from AudioSYNC

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


In the wake of increasing concern over brain trauma in professional athletes, Patrick Link has crafted a story about a retired NFL linebacker who must deal with a family tragedy and his own suffering because of the violence of his chosen sport.

Includes a conversation about brain injuries and sports with Dr. Robert Cantu, the Senior Advisor to the NFL Head, Neck, and Spine Committee.

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring Deidrie Henry, Ernie Hudson, Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine and Scott Wolf. Directed by Bart DeLorenzo.

Headstrong is part of L.A. Theatre Works' Relativity Series featuring science-themed plays. Major funding for the Relativity Series is provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to enhance public understanding of science and technology in the modern world.


Not a book as such, but a full cast recording of a short play which I listened to in 2015, Headstrong by Patrick Link examines the phenomenon of high numbers of brain damage cases among men who play American Football. Its small cast of four characters manage between them to convincingly portray both the compelling arguments for change towards a safer sport, and the counter-arguments that the existing spectacle is more important to the game than the health of its players. I liked the Beowulf analogy, particularly as I am planning to revisit that saga soon, that Beowulf would not have become a popular hero had he not confronted danger, countered with his awareness of said danger being the salient point to argue.

The characters in Headstrong are all excellent and I found it easy to picture each one as they spoke and to understand why they behaved as they did. The sadness at the waste of lives is poignant and, despite knowing pretty much nothing about American Football, I felt angry on behalf of the affected players and their families.

The play is followed by an interview with an 'expert' which is interesting although does seem oddly over-rehearsed. I found it amazing that CTE brain damage was first being discussed thirty years ago, but was hushed up and ignored and it has taken so much negative publicity surrounding the problems of affected players to force the NFL to implement changes. As such Headstrong is an important and accessible play which I hope reaches a wide audience worldwide.


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Patrick Link / Plays / Books from America

10 comments:

  1. It truly is alarming that this is something that was covered up for so many decades, especially given the popularity of football here. We see the devastating effects of it all the time, but for the sake of money we don't talk about it *eyeroll*

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    1. I was shocked too, especially as the danger is really only in one tiny aspect of the game. I can't see how games would be 'ruined' by Not disabling many of the players

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  2. I'm glad writers are making the dangers known about contact sports. I read a romance from two years ago that the writer wasn't afraid to address the brain injury of an older player as one of her elements in the story.

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    1. This issue made for an informative and also poignant play. I think it's great that fiction can make talking points of this kind of thing and, hopefully, change attitudes.

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  3. Sports injuries can be so serious. I have listened to a couple of plays and enjoyed it. This sounds interesting.

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    1. I got this LA Theatre Works one and a couple of their others via AudioSYNC

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  4. Full cast recordings are the best to listen to, and it sounds like the play itself is great with the topic it tackled. It's terrible that there's so much brain damage happening all for the sake of entertainment.

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    1. I was impressed with this production especially the realistic script and great performances. I first thought theatre would be weird as just audio, but it can work well

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  5. I should gift thi to my in-laws! They are very into football and my nephew had to stop playing at 14 because of so many concussions he got BUT they still lt his younger brother play!. When my son started sports I said... you can play ANYTHING but football and hockey. I tried really hard not to be a controlling parent but I did think it was important to put my foot down on that

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    1. Oh goodness, having listened to this play I can't imagine why anyone would let young people play American Football - unless under the modified rules that don't allow players to repeatedly smack their heads together!

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