The doctor who discovered chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) now says that letting children under the age of 18 play football is child abuse.
Dr. Bennet Omalu said the recent study published in the The Journal of the American Medical Association is proof that there is considerable damage done to a person who suffers repeated blows to the head.
The study found that 110 of 111 former NFL players who had their brains donated for scientific examination suffered from CTE.
Omalu said that letting children play football should be considered child abuse.
“Someday there will be a district attorney who will prosecute for child abuse [on the football field], and it will succeed,” Omalu said Monday during a New York Press Club talk in Manhattan. “It is the definition of child abuse.”
“That study out of Boston simply reaffirmed something we have always known, that there is nothing like a safe blow to the head,” Omalu added. “If you play football, and if your child plays football, there is a 100 percent risk exposure. There is nothing like making football safer. That’s a misnomer.”
Omalu’s discovery of CTE and the effects of concussions was dramatized in the movie “Concussion” starring Will Smith.
Omalu doesn’t think that the NFL should be blamed, but instead the societal encouragement of the game.
“There is nothing the league can do. The league is a corporation,” Omalu said. “What do corporations do? Make money. They’re not there to provide health care or perform research. That is not what they’re there to do. They’re selling product.”
In 2013, the courts decided that the NFL would be forced to pay a $1 billion settlement to former players who suffered from brain injuries linked to concussions.