National Screenings of “The Business of Amateurs” Empowers Former Student Athletes and Challenges National Collegiate Athletic Association

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Former USC Football Player Turned Filmmaker Brings To Light Perceived Injustices Commonly Imposed on Student Athletes Within This Documentary

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The Business of Amateurs

Despite the film’s scathing criticism of big-time college sports, the film is done out of love and comes from a place seeking answers for something worth saving.

"The Business of Amateurs" is the first documentary to challenge the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) from the perspective of former student athletes. Annually, billions of dollars in new revenue is made by the NCAA; now, many players and fans are questioning the NCAA's active role in the marketing and selling of their cheapest commodity: amateur athletes.

The documentary shines an uncomplimentary spotlight on the NCAA, an institution that was founded on the principles of protecting and benefiting the student athlete.

Former college athlete and director of The Business of Amateurs, Bob DeMars uses his unique vantage point to call out perceived injustices often imposed on student athletes.

“The NCAA is the face of college athletics, and it generates billions of dollars every year for top universities in the United States,” said DeMars. “Though we set out to make a film focusing exclusively on the hypocrisy of the NCAA, we ended up with a film about student-athletes and their civil rights. I hope their stories will be what resonates and helps spark change in the flawed system of college athletics.”

The documentary’s story primarily unfolds through the testimonies of key players and former athletes, including Scott Ross, an inspirational linebacker that played alongside Junior Seau at the University of Southern California. Ross was diagnosed with dementia at the age of 40, and his struggles with depression, anxiety, and alcoholism are chronicled in the film.

Additional former student athletes featured in "The Business of Amateurs" include Ramogi Huma and Kain Colter, two former college football players who started the unionization effort at Northwestern University. Former UCLA basketball player Ed O’Bannon also appears to tell his story of how the NCAA used his likeness in an EA Sports NCAA Basketball videogame, and how his ensuing lawsuit (Edward O'Bannon, Jr. v. NCAA, case number 14-16601, United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit) for that experience changed rules for athletes.

The educational portion of the documentary is anchored by Mary Willingham. A former educator at the University of North Carolina, Willingham courageously spoke out about a system of fake classes and cheating that spanned nearly two decades at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Willingham was also a Division 2 swimmer in college.

Dr. Robert Cantu and Chris Nowinski, founder of The Concussion Legacy Group and former football player at Harvard University, also lend their expertise to the documentary, focusing on the issue of head injuries and the concussion crisis.

Many important roles behind the camera were filled by former student-athletes. DeMars himself is a former student athlete who played football for the University of Southern California from 1997 to 2001. In addition, composer Christian Staehely, animator Steven Christian, and song-writer Joel Bauman are all former student athletes who contributed to the making of "The Business of Amateurs."

“Despite the film’s scathing criticism of big-time college sports, the film is done out of love and comes from a place seeking answers for something worth saving,” said DeMars. “As athletes, we love our schools and our sports. When you love and care about something, you push to make it better.”

Special screenings of "The Business of Amateurs" will be held throughout the country in April 2016, distributed by Tugg, a grassroots theatrical distribution company that allows anyone in the country to set up a screening at a local theater. For a list of dates and locations for screenings of "The Business of Amateurs," visit Gravitas Ventures will also be distributing the film through various outlets later this year.

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Valeria Velasco
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