THE POSSIBLE LINK BETWEEN HEAD TRAUMA AND VIOLENT BEHAVIOR;
PROBES LOW PAY IN THE THRIVING MINOR LEAGUE BASEBALL INDUSTRY;
EXAMINES THE “EAT WHAT YOU KILL” PHENOMENON; AND
SPOTLIGHTS VIDEO GAMING IN COLLEGE SPORTS
WHEN THE EMMY®-WINNING SHOW RETURNS OCT. 21, EXCLUSIVELY ON HBO
REAL SPORTS WITH BRYANT GUMBEL, TV’s most honored sports journalism series, continues its 20th season with more enterprising features and reporting when the show’s 211th edition debuts TUESDAY, OCT. 21 (10:00-11:00 p.m. ET/PT), exclusively on HBO.
For the up-to-the-minute updates about REAL SPORTS, follow on Twitter at @RealSportsHBO or join the conversation using #RealSports.
(Dr. Ann McKee of Boston University researching the brains of former NFL players.)
*Violent Connection. While head injuries and their profound effect on former players have generated headlines and a steady stream of litigation for the National Football League in recent years, a new crisis emerged in 2014 centering on domestic violence. Now, REAL SPORTS correspondent Jon Frankel discovers that the two issues might have more to do with each other than many imagine. He visits Boston University, where neuroscientists have conducted studies concluding that more than 50% of former athletes, most of them former football players, who had the brain disease CTE developed some kind of violent physical behavior despite no prior history of violence. Frankel also sits down with the widows of two such players, Paul Oliver and Ray Easterling, to hear frightening accounts of how their husbands changed from gentle, loving partners and fathers to violent, out-of-control men.
Producer: Chapman Downes.
*Minor League Pay. Major League Baseball is healthier – and richer – than ever. Five franchises are worth more than a billion dollars and overall league revenue is expected to approach $9 billion for the 2014 season, with attendance figures among the highest in history. Despite what might be MLB’s largest economic boom, the profits aren’t reaching the lower ranks of pro baseball. Adjusted for inflation, minor league salaries have actually gone down during the boom. In addition to receiving no compensation for spring training service or instructional league assignments, players are paid only for the five months they play, are not represented by a union and have no say in working conditions or salary structure. As a result, 32 players, led by former San Francisco Giants minor leaguer-turned-lawyer Garrett Broshuis, have filed a lawsuit against the league and all of its teams. REAL SPORTS correspondent Jon Frankel speaks with Broshuis and others about the overhaul they feel is necessary in Major League Baseball’s farm system.
Producer: Nick Dolin.
(Host Bryant Gumbel on an “Eat What You Kill” hunt in Florida.)
*Eat What You Kill. Americans eat an average of 200 pounds of meat a year, but many give no thought to how it gets to their plates. However, a growing contingency of carnivores in the U.S. preach a lifestyle guided by the “Eat What You Kill” philosophy. Those men and women only consume animal meat that they have hunted and prepared themselves. Some do it for health reasons, arguing that antibiotics and hormones affect factory farm meat, while others cite ethics and spirituality. REAL SPORTS host Bryant Gumbel meets some “Eat What You Kill” adherents, including former “Fear Factor” host Joe Rogan, and learns that many are not from rural areas, but urban dwellers. Gumbel takes viewers through the “Eat What You Kill” process, from hunt to preparation, where virtually all parts of the body, from the heart to the testicles, are used.
Producer: Tim Walker.
(Members of the Robert Morris University varsity eSports team.)
*eSports. Whether video gaming, or eSports, is the anti-sport or the sport of the next generation, it’s big business, currently grossing more than $60 billion a year. That’s roughly four times the size of the music business and nearly twice the size of the film industry. Video gaming has even become one of the fastest-growing spectator sports in the world, which may surprise those unfamiliar with eSports, but competitive gamers have shown that the profession provides lucrative opportunities.
When REAL SPORTS’ Soledad O’Brien first reported this story in Oct. 2013, she went behind the scenes of the League of Legends World Championships at Staples Center in Los Angeles, where the competition was broadcast live to millions of people around the globe and had the eSports world buzzing. A year later, she visits Robert Morris University in Chicago, where eSports has become their newest varsity sport, and meets the members of the first scholarship eSports team in the country as they prepare for their inaugural season.
Producers: Jake Rosenwasser, Maggie Burbank.
Other HBO playdates: Oct. 21 (3:20 a.m.), 24 (9:30 a.m., 9:00 p.m.), 27 (12:45 p.m.), 28 (7:00 p.m.) and 30 (2:00 a.m.), and Nov. 2 (9:00 a.m.), 4 (midnight), 5 (7:30 p.m.) and 8 (9:30 a.m.)
HBO2 playdates: Oct. 25 (2:30 p.m.), 29 (noon, 8:00 p.m.) and 31 (4:00 p.m.), and Nov. 11 (10:00 a.m., 2:45 a.m.), 15 (4:40 p.m.) and 21 (midnight)
REAL SPORTS WITH BRYANT GUMBEL is available on multiple platforms, including HBO On Demand® and HBO GO®.
REAL SPORTS was recognized by the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication with a 2012 George F. Peabody Award for broadcast excellence. It is the only sports program ever honored with two duPont Awards, first in 2005 and again in 2012. Debuting April 2, 1995, the series has captured the Sports Emmy® for Outstanding Sports Journalism 15 times, receiving 26 Sports Emmys® overall.
Follow REAL SPORTS updates on HBO.com/realsports and facebook.com/realsports. Immediately following the debut of this month’s show on Oct. 21, log on to HBO.com/realsports for a special overtime session hosted by Bryant Gumbel.
The executive producer of REAL SPORTS WITH BRYANT GUMBEL is Rick Bernstein; Joe Perskie is senior producer.
Tim Pahuta was drafted by the Washington Nationals in 2005, a year after former San Francisco Giants’ minor leaguer Garrett Broshuis. On the field he was often the star, hitting 112 career homeruns. At home, he was a pauper.
JON FRANKEL: “When you took stock of your situation, and you looked around, you said, ‘Wait a minute. I’m livin’ with four other guys in a two-bedroom apartment on an air mattress. Aren’t I a professional athlete?’”
TIM PAHUTA: “Yeah, right. That’s exactly what you say to yourself. You don’t feel like a professional athlete at that point. You feel like an unwanted commodity.”
Pahuta was a very good minor league baseball player…a phone call away from making it, is what they say about guys like him…a phone call, that never came…and last year, after nine years, and six different teams, Pahuta knew it was time to get on with the rest of his life.
The disappointment was hard enough, but these days Pahuta has a more immediate issue.
JON FRANKEL: “So this is the room you grew up in?”
TIM PAHUTA: “This is it. This is it right here.”
Having finally given up on his dream, Pahuta is back home, living with Mom and Dad.
JON FRANKEL: “Living at your parents’ house?”
TIM PAHUTA: “Absolutely.”
JON FRANKEL: “How does that roll off the tongue?”
TIM PAHUTA: “It feels terrible. It’s embarrassing. You’re 31 years old, and you live at your parents’ house? How do you pick up a chick like that? You can’t do it.”
JON FRANKEL: “Are the memories worth something? Are the memories worth…”
TIM PAHUTA: “Try paying the rent with a memory. I retired with $300 in my bank account.”
JON FRANKEL: “$300.”
TIM PAHUTA: “You’d be amazed at how many people I ran into during my career that thought we make a lotta money. Meanwhile, you make more than me doin’ whatever you do. It doesn’t matter. Person servin’ hotdogs in the stadium makes more than the guy playing first base for the team everybody’s paying to go watch.”
The lawsuit Broshuis filed earlier this year against Major League Baseball and all of its teams, has 32 plaintiffs, including a former slugger named Tim Pahuta.
The suit alleges not just that the players are paid below the federal minimum wage, but also, that for weeks and months at a time, they are not paid for their work at all.