This New Anti-NCAA Documentary Could Be College Football’s Blackfish

Ex-USC player Bob DeMars’ film takes on the NCAA’s idea of amateurism

Scott Ross played linebacker for the University of Southern California in the late ‘80s, making multiple trips to the Rose Bowl. For most college football players, such achievements are the pinnacle of sport.


“It was like walking next to gladiators,” Ross says of his college career in the opening lines of the new documentary, The Business of Amateurs. “It was the coolest thing you could ever feel.”

Ross’ perspective changed over the years. In this documentary about the National Collegiate Athletic Association, Ross reflects on his football life and afterlife with grizzled humility, serving as an articulate spokesman for the sport’s damaged discards.

Throughout the documentary, the film’s director and producer Bob DeMars takes aim at the organization he believes chewed up thousands of college players like Ross and spat them out: the NCAA. The viewer hears the personal stories of athletes, families, and friends impacted by the system’s myriad problems, including fraudulent “paper classes”—courses designed to be passed easily—and educational plans for revenue sport athletes, restrictions on student athletes’ right to earn compensation in fields other than sports, and processes preventing athletes from receiving proper medical care.

DeMars (right) with former USC head coach Pete Carroll

“We really did set out to change the system,” DeMars said. “We’re hoping the film will really stir the discussion and make some positive change. What Blackfish did to SeaWorld is what we want to do to the NCAA.”

Ramogi Huma, who is featured prominently in the film as the executive director of the National College Players Association, recounts the heartbreaking situation in an interview. “It’s that type of thing that can change policies, change behaviors. You can see how crushing some of these NCAA policies are. You see families that are crushed. You see mothers in such pain. Those are the kinds of things that move people.”

[quote position="right" is_quote="true"]We really did set out to change the system. …What Blackfish did to SeaWorld is what we want to do to the NCAA.[/quote]

In at least one instance, DeMars’ film already has made an impact, even before a wide release. In 2015, DeMars got a rough cut of the documentary to former Eastern Illinois defensive back Adrian Arrington, the main plaintiff in a class-action concussion lawsuit against the NCAA, which had recently settled the case for $70 million.

The Business of Amateurs details that very settlement’s shortcomings, including its failure to mandate team rules to help minimize traumatic brain injury or provide direct support for players suffering from brain damage. After viewing the film and talking more to Huma about the issue, Arrington rejected the settlement and fired his team of lawyers, explaining he’d been “misinformed” about the settlement’s terms.

“Watching the movie helped me understand that, as a college athlete, there’s so many things you don’t know, and the things you don’t know really will hurt you,” Arrington tells GOOD. “I’m hoping it opens up a lot of eyes for people who dream about playing college sports.”

The film will be available for download Friday via multiple streaming outlets. The timing of its release feels appropriate—sandwiched between the Olympics, which earnestly pursued and found a workable solution to its failing model of amateurism decades ago by protecting fair access to its sports via the creation of the United States Olympic Committee, and the return of college football, whose leadership continues to be embroiled in various aspects of the issue.

In August, in fact, the NCAA and five co-defendants agreed to a $1.2 million settlement with the family of a Frostburg State player, who died after suffering a head injury in 2011, but the NCAA admitted no liability—though it has proposed funding concussion testing of current and former athletes.

DeMars played defensive end for USC from 1997 to 2001. The Business of Amateurs is his directorial debut.

However, two other prominent cases remain unresolved. Both sides in former UCLA basketball player Ed O’Bannon’s lawsuit—which challenges the NCAA’s use of athletes’ names, images and likenesses without compensation—recently appealed last winter’s decision to the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, the NCAA and a group of athletic conferences are attempting to dismiss a case shepherded by lawyer Jeffrey Kessler, which seeks an injunction against the NCAA’s current limits on individual compensation for playing college sports.

Last March, President Obama told the Huffington Post, “Where I see coaches getting paid millions of dollars, athletic directors getting paid millions of dollars, the NCAA making huge amounts of money, and then some kid gets a tattoo, or gets a free use of a car, and suddenly they’re banished ... That’s not fair.”


The NCAA is a billion-dollar industry. Its student-athletes are its stars, its revenue generators. And while those like Ross typically are proud of their time as college athletes, his life arguably peaked in those four short years. Meanwhile, injuries linger and health for some continues to deteriorate, exemplifying a growing and concerning issue for how we as avid viewers and how colleges as caretakers treat impressionable and eager young adults once they pass their expiration date.

“We interviewed [Ross] for five hours that day,” DeMars, himself a former football player at USC, says of his initial interview with the soft-spoken ex player. “When we dropped him off [after filming], he could barely walk.”

Former USC linebacker Scott Ross. Screenshot via The Business of Amateurs.

Ross’ condition, both physically and mentally, deteriorates as the film progresses. Soon he’s leaving DeMars voicemails and texts in the middle of the night, sharing details about his alcoholism, depression, and diagnosed dementia caused by repeated head contact.

A year to the day after the interview, Ross’ body was found decomposing in his car outside a church in Louisiana. After ingesting a fatal combination of alcohol and prescription drugs, he died from a heart attack. Ross was 45.

NCAA representatives could not be reached for comment for this story. Says DeMars, “I’m hoping this film gives [efforts to change the NCAA] a shot in the arm.”

Sports
via Smithfly.com

"Seventy percent of the Earth is covered with water, now you camp on it!" proudly declares Smithfly on the website for its new camping boat — the Shoal Tent.

Why have we waited so long for camping equipment that actually lets us sleep on the water? Because it's an awful idea, that's why.

"The world is your waterbed," Smithfly says on its site. But the big difference is that no one has ever had to worry about falling asleep and then drowning on their waterbed.

RELATED: A ridiculous dad transformed Billie Eilish's 'Bad Guy' into a 3-minute long musical dad joke

While it is possible that one could wade into the water, unzip the tent, have a pleasant slumber, and wake up in the morning feeling safe and refreshed, there are countless things that could go terribly wrong.

The tent could float down the river and you wake up in the middle of nowhere.

You could have to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night.

This guy.

It could spring a leak and you could drown while wrapped up in eight feet of heavy nylon.

A strong current could tip the tent-boat over.

There isn't any way to steer the darn thing.

This guy.

Mashable shared a charming video of the tent on Twitter and it was greeted with a chorus of people sharing the many ways one could die while staying the night in the Shoal Tent.

Oh yeah, it's expensive, too.

Even though the general public seems to think the Shoal Tent is a terrible idea, according to the Smithfly's website, it's currently sold out due to "popular demand" and it will be "available in 6-8 weeks." Oh, and did we mention it costs $1,999?

Lifestyle
via zoezimmm / Imgur

There are few more perniciously dangerous conspiracy theories being shared online than the idea that vaccines cause autism.

This has led to a decline in Americans vaccinating their children, resulting in a massive increase in measles. This year has already seen over 1,200 cases of measles, a disease that was eradicated in the U.S. nearly 20 years ago.

A 2015 Pew Research study found that 83% of Americans think the measles vaccine is safe, while 9% think it's not. Another 7% are not sure. But when you look at the polls that include parents of minors, the numbers get worse, 13% believe that the measles vaccine is unsafe.

There is zero truth to the idea that vaccines cause autism. In fact, a recent study of over 650,000 children found there was no link whatsoever.

RELATED: A new study of over 650,000 children finds — once again — that vaccines don't cause autism

A great example of the lack of critical thinking shown by anti-vaxxers was a recent exchange on Facebook shared to Imgur by zoezimmm.

A parent named Kenleigh at a school in New Mexico shared a photo of a sign at reads: "Children will not be enrolled unless an immunization record is presented and immunizations are up-to-date."

This angered a Facebook user who went on a senseless tirade against vaccinations.

"That's fine, I'll just homeschool my kids," she wrote. At least they won't have to worry about getting shot up in school or being bullied, or being beat up / raped by the teachers!"

To defend her anti-vaccination argument, she used a factually incorrect claim that Amish people don't vaccinate their children. She also incorrectly claimed that the MMR vaccine is ineffective and used anecdotal evidence from her and her father to claim that vaccinations are unnecessary.

She also argued that "every human in the world is entitled to their own opinion." Which is true, but doesn't mean that wildly incorrect assumptions about health should be tolerated.

She concluded her argument with a point that proves she doesn't care about facts: "It doesn't matter what you say is not going to change my mind."

RELATED: 12 medical professionals shared their most memorable anti-vaxxer stories and you won't stop face-palming

While the anti-vaxxer was incorrect in her points, it must also be pointed out that some of the people who argued with her on Facebook were rude. That should never be tolerated in this type of discourse, but unfortunately, that's the world of social media.

Here's the entire exchange:

via zoezimmm / imgur


via zoezimmm / imgur


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The post received a ton of responses on imgur. Here are just a few:

"'In my opinion...' 'I believe...' That's not how facts work."

"You're entitled to your opinion. And everyone else is entitled to call you a dumbass."

"'What I do with my children is no concern to you at all.' Most of the time, true. When your kid might give mine polio, not true."

"If my child can't bring peanut butter, your child shouldn't bring preventable diseases."

It's important to call out people who spread dangerous views, especially how they pertain to health, on social media. But people should do so with respect and civility.

Health

He photographed Nazi atrocities and buried the negatives. The unearthed images are unforgettable.

He risked his life to leave a "historical record of our martyrdom."

via Yad Vashem and Archive of Modern Conflict, 2007

In September 1939, the Nazis invaded Poland. By April 1940, the gates closed on the Lodz Ghetto, the second largest in the country after Warsaw.

Throughout the war, over 210,000 people would be imprisoned in Lodz.

Among those held captive was Henryk Ross. He was a Jewish sports photographer before the Nazi invasion and worked for the the ghetto's Department of Statistics during the war. As part of his official job, he took identification photos of the prisoners and propaganda shots of Lodz' textile and leather factories.

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Communities
via Imgur

Every few years there's something that goes mega viral because people can't decide what it is.

There was the famous "is it blue and black, or white and gold" dress?

There was the audio recording that said either "yanny" or "Laurel."

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Viral


Rochester NY Airport Security passing insulting notes to travelers caught on tape www.youtube.com

Neil Strassner was just passing through airport security, something he does on a weekly basis as part of his job. That's when a contract airport security employee handed him a small piece of folded cardboard. Strassner, 40, took the paper and continued on his way. He only paused when he heard the security employee shouting back at him, "You going to open the note?"

When he unfolded the small piece of paper, Strassner was greeted with an unprompted insult. "You ugly!!!"

According to Strassner, and in newly released CCTV of the incident, the woman who handed him the note began laughing loudly.

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