Dr. Julian Bailes sees little risk of CTE from youth football


One of the doctors portrayed in the controversial film Concussion came out in favor of a ban on contact sports for children, however one of that doctor’s longtime colleagues and mentors says he has a different takeaway from their research.

Neurosurgeon Dr. Julian Bailes said that he disagrees with his colleague Dr. Bennet Omalu, who wrote in the New York Times that he believes children should be barred from football, hockey, boxing, mixed martial arts and other contact sports. Bailes believes that recent rules changes made at all levels of football mitigate many of the risks associated with the sport.

“I’m a big believer in the benefits of organized sports and the benefits of football. I have two children who play football and I believe football is safer than it’s ever been,” Bailes, chairman of neurosurgery at the NorthShore Neurological Institute, said on a conference call that was attended by more than 20 local and national media outlets.

Bailes said the risk of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy comes from pro football players slamming into each other thousands of times over the course of years, and not from the kinds of hits that children inflict on each other in a few Pop Warner seasons. Bailes also believes that the seemingly large numbers of former players who have been diagnosed with CTE come from those players’ brains being selected for research specifically because those players showed symptoms of brain damage. Bailes said only about 100 football players have been shown to have CTE out of tens of thousands who have played in the NFL.

Dr. Julian Bailes sees little risk of CTE from youth football.