‘Concussion,’ the NFL, and the limits of empathy

Maybe empathy should be the thing that changes the NFL when it comes to concussions, but it probably won’t.

The goal of the film — at least one of them — is to inspire empathy. We see the story of Bennet Omalu, the neuropathologist who first discovered chronic traumatic encephalopathy, much to the league’s well-documented chagrin, and we’re supposed to care about the scourge of CTE, to think twice about what we’re consuming when we watch football and the costs to the people who deliver it to us.

But empathy has its limits. “Empathy has some unfortunate features — it is parochial, narrow-minded, and innumerate,” Paul Bloom wrote in the New Yorker. “We’re often at our best when we’re smart enough not to rely on it.”

By Soraya Nadia McDonald