Missing Reels: “Bigger Stronger Faster*” (2008)

Missing Reels examines overlooked, unappreciated or unfairly maligned movies. Sometimes these films haven’t been seen by anyone, and sometimes they’ve been seen by everyone… who loathed them. Sometimes they’ve simply been forgotten. But in any case, Missing Reels argues that they deserve to be seen and admired by more people.


It will come as a shock to no one that I’m not much of an athlete or sports nut. Sidelined by asthma and an almost comical lack of coordination, I’ve always been an indoor kid who preferred his comic books and movies to getting out in the field and playing a game. And yet, even with that propensity for introversion and solitary activities, there’s one sport that I do follow: football. The season has just begun and already injuries are piling up, with the shadow of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) looming over the proceedings. Much like football is a battle of strategy and toughness, so too is the dichotomy for passionately loving the sport with the all too real thought that we’re watching men destroy their bodies and lives for our pleasure.

We ask a lot of our athletes, putting their health at risk on the field while maintaining some semblance of “role model” actions off it. But why? And for what? In the end, it’s a moral struggle about expectations, bloodthirsty crowds and entertainment that leaves us all with some serious questions. These questions don’t just extend to the (very real) possibility of CTE but also of performance enhancing drugs (PEDs). If we want our professional sports players to be at their best, then why do we chastise them for taking something that helps them reach that goal we (unfairly) demand?

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