The doctor portrayed by Will Smith in the film ‘Concussion’ has told parents to ask themselves: ‘Do I love rugby more than I love my child?’
World renowned neuropathologist Dr Bennet Omalu appeared on television warning parents of the potentially catastrophic consequences of contact sports including rugby.
‘The big six are rugby, (American) football, boxing, ice hockey, mixed martial arts and wrestling,’ he told TVNZ1.
‘If your child plays any of these games, even for one season, there is a 100 per cent risk of exposure to permanent brain damage.’
The blockbuster ‘Concussion’ is based on Omalu’s struggle to have the NFL recognise his troubling research into chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) and degenerative effects of repeated head knocks.
His findings revealed that many former American footballer’s suffered with depression and mental health issues resulting from their time in the contact sport.
Given his shocking discovery Omalu now asks: ‘The big question is in 2017, knowing what we know today, why would we continue to intentionally damage the brains of our children?
‘We would not let a child smoke a cigarette but we would rather send a child to the field of rugby or football to suffer a concussion of the brain.
‘What’s more dangerous? A cigarette or a concussion of the brain?’
He believes a child’s brain has not fully developed until the age of 18 and the damage is not simply limited to professional athletes.
Omalu is accustomed to being faced with resistancefrom governing bodies in sport as his work directly brings the future of the game into question, but the Nigerian physician will not be cowed and urged parents to withdraw their children from potentially harmful activities.
‘Each and every parent must ask themselves, “do I love rugby more than I love my child?”
‘Pull your child out. Let your child play non-contact, non-collision sports – there are so many of them,’ he concluded.
By Mail Sport