You may have always dreamed of getting to coach your kid’s football team or cheering them on at their first hockey game, but, according to one of the world’s foremost concussion experts, you may not want to see these dreams come true. Dr. Bennet Omalu, the first person to publish findings of CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy) and whose work was dramatized by Will Smith in Concussion, believes that letting anyone under the age of 18 play contact sports should be considered child abuse.
“My position now in age, no child under the age of 18 in America today should play any of the high impact sports, high contact sports,” Dr. Omalu said at a recent event in New York. So what does Dr. Omalu consider to be “contact sports”? He lists six sports: football, ice hockey, mixed martial arts, rugby, boxing, and wrestling. He left off soccer but said that for the sport to be safe for kids, headers need to be eliminated from the game, as they put kids at serious risk of a concussion.
Dr. Omalu has never been shy about his concerns about contact sports. A noted neuropathologist and expert in the study of the effects of concussions, Dr. Omalu famously took on the NFL after discovering how much CTE was affecting former players. He felt that the league was willfully ignoring the evidence that concussions were having on players, choosing the short term profit over a player’s long term safety.
Now, Dr. Omalu is hoping to show people the danger of allowing their kids to play contact sports with his new book Truth Doesn’t Have a Side: My Alarming Discovery About the Danger of Contact Sports. While many are sure to disagree with Dr. Omalu, he’s more than willing to make a few enemies if it means he is helping people hear what he believes to be an essential issue. How essential? According to Dr. Omalu, “This is an epidemic that’s far, far worse and greater than the opioid epidemic.”