Source: wisconsinwatch.org | Re-Post Duerson Fund 2/27/2018 –
The subject of the 2015 movie “Concussion,” Dr. Bennet Omalu’s discovery of a degenerative brain disease in former Pittsburgh Steelers center Mike Webster and others has spurred a national debate about the safety of high contact sports including football, ice hockey, mixed martial arts, boxing, wrestling, rugby, lacrosse and soccer.
In 2002, Omalu identified chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a crippling neurodegenerative disease found in football players, including Webster. He went from Hall of Fame inductee and Super Bowl champion to homeless. Webster’s erratic behavior included tasing himself into unconsciousness in order to sleep.
Omalu likens the American obsession with football to a religion. In that regard, he might be considered a heretic: Omalu has equated allowing children to play football to child abuse and warns that the NFL is doomed unless it starts reducing harmful blows to the head.
Below are excerpts of a Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism interview with Omalu:
Several players on the University of Wisconsin football team have described not having had concussions in years, but having their “bell rung” many times. They’re quoted as feeling dazed and slightly disoriented. Are these concussions? Are these hits dangerous?
“Bell ringing is a concussion. And you don’t need to suffer a concussion to suffer brain damage. The issue here is repeated blows to the head, with or without a concussion. Now, these kids are in college, they are above the age of 18, so adults are free to do whatever they want to do. Adults are free to choose to play football. My focus is on children. Now … the players who are making that judgment on such a serious issue, in 20 years, they will not be on the football field, they will be weeping …