Chief San Joaquin County, California medical examiner Bennet Omalu recently wrote an opinion column in the New York Times saying there should be an age requirement for playing tackle football.
From that column---
Over the past two decades it has become clear that repetitive blows to the head in high-impact contact sports like football, ice hockey, mixed martial arts and boxing place athletes at risk of permanent brain damage. There is even a Hollywood movie, “Concussion,” due out this Christmas Day, that dramatizes the story of my discoveries in this area of research. Why, then, do we continue to intentionally expose our children to this risk?
If a child who plays football is subjected to advanced radiological and neurocognitive studies during the season and several months after the season, there can be evidence of brain damage at the cellular level of brain functioning, even if there were no documented concussions or reported symptoms. If that child continues to play over many seasons, these cellular injuries accumulate to cause irreversible brain damage, which we know now by the name Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, or C.T.E., a disease that I first diagnosed in 2002.
Depending on the severity of the condition, the child now has a risk of manifesting symptoms of C.T.E. like major depression, memory loss, suicidal thought and actions, loss of intelligence as well as dementia later in life. C.T.E. has also been linked to drug and alcohol abuse as the child enters his 20s, 30s and 40s.
The risk of permanent impairment is heightened by the fact that the brain, unlike most other organs, does not have the capacity to cure itself following all types of injuries.
It has already been established that football kills and cripples at the college and professional level.
I understand how popular football is here in Texas and in the United States, but the day is coming where the sport is understood for the harm it causes and where parents will not let their children play the sport.
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