'Real Sports' Examines Link to Brain Injuries and ALS
This month's program, which premieres Tuesday at 10 p.m. ET, with extensive re-airs throughout the month, is highlighted by a devastating follow-up report from correspondent Bernard Goldberg that continues "Real Sports' " Emmy-award winning examinations on the long-term effects of concussions in the NFL. This report looks into new studies linking sports concussions and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS.
The piece centers on former NFL players Steve Smith and the late Wally Hilgenberg, as well as CFL player Tony Proudfoot and former boxer Scott LeDoux, all ALS sufferers who also were concussion victims. The segment also raises questions over whether former Yankee great Lou Gehrig, whose name is most commonly associated with ALS, may have sustained damage from concussions. The sight and sound of Smith, who is confined to a bed and unable to move his muscles enough to speak without the aid of a computer, are harrowing.
Also fascinating is a Bryant Gumbel follow-up piece on the aftermath of the 2008 shooting of Robbie Tolan, a minor league baseball player and the son of former Cincinnati outfielder Bobby Tolan, outside the elder Tolan's home in suburban Houston. Gumbel also has a moving essay on former North Carolina men's basketball coach Dean Smith.
Of far less interest and import is a wasted Goldberg segment on the idiot couple that crashed a White House state dinner. Their connection to sports is a tenuous one: they organize a charity polo match in Washington. However, the couple is accused by interviewees of running out on their debts. The piece is as airy as the space between the couple's ears, and is unworthy of the other magnificent pieces that airs in the hour. But while you can't hit 1.000 all the time, "Real Sports" comes closer than anything else in sports television.