Bennet Omalu educates audience on prevalent disease in NFL players

April 25, 2016

Audrey Jensen
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Abbie Stillman
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When we look over the history of our nation, we can’t imagine why the social norm would ever be to harm ourselves.

On April 19, Bennet Omalu, one of the first pathologists to publish research on chronic traumatic encephalopathy in a National Football League player explained to over 1,500 UCCS students and community members why the glorified American sport of football should be anything other than the social norm.

Omalu, whose findings inspired the popular film “Concussion,” introduced himself as an equal with the audience and said he had come to share his story.

He integrated his findings and research throughout his speech, which addressed the struggles he faced throughout his childhood growing up in Nigeria and his journey to become a doctor.

He started medical school by age 16 and suffered varying difficulties before his success.

As Omalu shared his story he emphasized the importance of living your life the way you want to regardless of what anyone tries to tell you, including prestigious doctors and the NFL.

“Bennet you are just as majestic as the stars. Don’t let depression define who you are, the world cannot understand you, so be you,” he said.

Austin Chasse | The Scribe
Austin Chasse | The Scribe

He entertained the audience with his passionate voice and occasional spurts of falsetto exclamations.

After he provided the audience with an inspirational first half hour of motivating quotes that people who have endured pain in life could relate to, he tied in the story of his research and the battle he faced to bring awareness to his findings.

When Omalu moved to the U.S., what he found was completely different than what he expected.

He explained that September 2002 was the first time he sat down and watched American football and wondered, “Why was there a need to wear a helmet if (football) was an intelligent sport?”

Omalu said he studied brains in his home that helped lead to his findings. Several people affiliated with the NFL told him not to publish his research.

“No matter how big the NFL may be,” Omalu said, “the life of one NFL player is more valuable than the NFL put together.”

When he did publish his research, Omalu said he had to package the idea of CTE like he was introducing a product to the market.

He repeatedly delved into the idea that everyone, no matter what or who they affiliate with, all share the same spirit.

“Use your talent as you would use money, make a difference in the lives of other people, don’t make it about you.”