Whether it's little tykes in oversized pads or high school kids in serious competition, the dangers of high-impacts sports are in the spotlight. Coaches and parents are aware that they need to keep their athletes' heads protected to avoid the dangers of concussions.
But Dr. Bennet Omalu, the forensic pathologist who was the first to discover chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in the brains of former football players, has a more extreme idea. He warns that children who play contact sports could face a lifetime of serious health problems and details his concerns in his book, "Truth Doesn't Have a Side: My Alarming Discovery about the Danger of Contact Sports.”
Omalu suggests that children should never play sports like football, hockey or lacrosse.
"Knowing what we know today, there is no reason whatsoever that any child under the age of 18 should play the high-impact, high-contact sports," he told Today.
"The big six are: American football, ice hockey, mixed martial arts, boxing, wrestling and rugby. Blows to the head are intrinsic to the game. That truth could be inconvenient, painful and difficult, but we should not deny it."
Omalu says letting a child play football is the "definition of child abuse."
"We wouldn’t give a child a cigarette to smoke because a cigarette is potentially harmful," he says. "But we would put on a helmet on the head of a child and send him out on a field to play a game whereby he sustains repeated blows to his head, to suffer sub-concussions and concussions."
Instead, Omalu suggests safer sports such as swimming, track and field, volleyball and basketball.