I attended an NFL football game this past weekend, the timing of which fit right alongside successive head injuries to football professional Tua Tagovailoa. I did not watch or see video of those collisions, but the amount of passionate writing generated around this as a cultural moment is pretty startling. Several issues relevant to our broader social existence are pulled into view, such as proper medical care, what we allow young people to do (or not do), and professional ethics in juxtaposition with financial and material gain. Big things.
In the game I attended, a few players did leave the field under caution of head injuries. They did not return. Beyond curiosity, I don’t know what the value is in my prompting Midjourney’s alogorith with a simple “concussion protocol” prompt, but here are some of the post-calculation renderings:
I’m struck by the above image’s skull seemingly textured like a soccer ball, as well as the doubled features of the face–a body out of a body.
For additional prompts, I pulled quotations from experts cited in various articles. Here is the rendering for, “hard to be certain without examining it seems like he wasn’t feeling like his normal self it seems like he was having neurological symptoms.” (punctuation removed)
Finally, without punctution, I entered, “When his head hit the turf that causes a jarring in the brain There’s this massive uncontrolled release of neurotransmitters in the part of the brain that would control arm and hand motion It causes the muscles to all fire at once so visibly it looks like his fingers are contorted and his arms are out just because all those muscles are firing simultaneously”:
I think we’ve talked about this issue for generations or more in different ways–physical sacrifice for enjoyment or as the toll for glory. The American poet James Wright certainly gestures to this in the final stanza of “Autumn Begins in Martins Ferry, Ohio“:
Therefore, Their sons grow suicidally beautiful At the beginning of October, And gallop terribly against each other’s bodies.
Jim Daniels, another poet I’ve spent a good deal of time reading, positions that sacrifice not on the field, but rather in the stands and audience. In his poem “Anthem,” the speaker leans against his aging father:
When we rise for the anthem I hear the rusty crack of his voice for the first time maybe ever. Thirty-three years of coughing thick factory air, of drifting to sleep through the heavy ring of machinery, of twelve-hour days. In my sleep I felt the cold bump of his late-night kiss.
In terms of the game, it was a beautiful day, with the mid afternoon dissolving into a beautiful sunset. Fighter jets flew over and men parachuted from thousands of feet onto the field. None of them were injured.