In the 2015 movie, “Concussion” starring Will Smith, Smith plays the real life role of a brilliant Nigerian physician living and working in the United States as a pathologist, Bennet Omalu. Omalu became interested in the life and death of football players who died early, according to his research, due to an accumulation of football injuries to the head.
The doctor could not understand why intelligent people, citizens of one of the most advanced nations the world has ever known, would allow their children at an early age, and their young men with tremendous potential, to subject themselves to activities that could gamble away their brains, their minds, and their abilities to enjoy life at any reasonable level. You can follow his story by clicking here.
The Minneapolis Star Tribune, reported that Omalu was reportedly ridiculed for helping to raise the awareness of parents and friends of the risks of high-impact contact sports.
A forensic pathologist, forty-seven year old Dr. Omalu identified and named a disease known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in the brains of deceased professional athletes, raising questions about the risks of brain damage for athletes playing high-impact contact sports. The name was an essential part of attacking the problem. “Chronic means long term, Traumatic means associated with trauma, and Encephalopathy means a bad brain,” he said. He soon found himself in the center of a battle similar to David vs. Goliath against powerful forces that sought to silence him and discredit him as a quack or voodoo doctor, though he held eight advanced degrees with board certifications from some of the best of the world’s universities. The opposition and threats from wealthy team owners and even wealthy athletes could not force him to give up his research and his efforts to save lives. He is now the chief medical examiner of California’s San Joaquin County and a professor of pathology at the University of California, Davis.
He is convinced that, “as we become more intelligent, we should give up less intelligent ways of doing things we did in the past. It’s a very well-known fact in science that blunt force trauma of the head causes brain damage. There’s no doctor who would deny that. In the 1960s, we used to smoke on airplanes. Smoking was trendy. Today we don’t do that because we’re smarter. Knowing what we know now, why would we intentionally continue to expose our children to the risk of brain damage? To damage the brain that defines who we are as human beings? This is not science. This is common sense,” says the doctor.
Many persons are now pursuing modern methods to make sports safer for our children. Wise parents will protect their children from unsafe sports and will work to make all our children’s activities safer.
The best thing you can do for yourself as a human being is to first know that you are a child of this universe. You’re no less than the majestic stars or the tallest tree in the wilderness.
Dr. Omalu stated. “In sharing my story, I want people to know something: Do not let other people define who you are. The best thing you can do for yourself as a human being is to first know that you are a child of this universe. You’re no less than the majestic stars or the tallest tree in the wilderness. You have every right to be here. . . There can never be another you in the history of mankind. It is your life to live.”
One Massachusetts recreation department announced recently that it will bar tackling from its first through eighth-grade football leagues beginning in the summer of 2016. Under the new no-contact protocol, the town of Somerville (a suburb of Boston) will offer four different flag football leagues in place of tackle football. Jill Lathan, Somerville’s director of recreation and youth, told The Huffington Post that the switch to the less physical version of the game reflects the wishes of the surrounding community to keep children safe. “Interest and participation in Flag Football is increasing both in Somerville and nationwide, and we are excited to be able to offer the program here in Somerville that will teach youth the necessary skills if they do choose to participate in contact football at an older age,” Lathan continued.
It is imperative that parents and school systems do more to protect our children who should be active in recreational and sports activities but should be reasonably safe also. Thirty million children and teens participate each year in organized sports. They are suffering from three million, five hundred injuries also each year. See Institute of Medicine (IOM).
Prayer for our children: Dear Lord please bless our children as they seek meaningful activities for healthy exercise. Protect them from excessive, selfish, and destructive competition. May they develop good sportsmanship attitudes and give You the praise when they experience success and outstanding performance. And may their goals for life be in accordance with your will for service. In the name of our Savior. Amen.