The physician credited with discovering Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) in American football players said that anyone who lets children play football could be held accountable for abuse.
“Someday there will be a district attorney who will prosecute for child abuse [on the football field], and it will succeed,” said Dr. Bennet Omalu at a New York Press Club talk, Sports Illustrated reported.
His remarks come shortly after a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that 110 out of 111 National Football League players had evidence of CTE when their brains were examined postmortem.
The study focused on people who played football for at least 14 years and found evidence of CTE in people who only played high school football.
CTE is a degenerative neurological disease caused by repeated trauma to the head and brain. It can only be diagnosed after death, but its mark is of clumps of a protein called Tau that develop throughout the brain and kill brain cells. Symptoms range from problems with memory loss, impaired judgment, and it can lead to dementia.
“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,” Dr. Omalu is quoted as saying.
His remarks came during the release of his memoir, “Truth Doesn’t Have a Side.” Dr. Omalu’s life was also dramatized in the movie “Concussion,” and was portrayed by Will Smith.
The National Football League said it’s taken steps to promote better safe practices and have donated money to research, but Dr. Omalu says this is not enough.
“There is nothing the league can do. The league is a corporation,” Dr. Omalu said, according to Sports Illustrated. “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.
“If they feel the need to make any changes, they’re making calculated changes that will enhance their bottom line.”