In a sit-down interview with the New Republic, the President talked about being a big football fan, but has doubts about the safety of the sport.
“I'm a big football fan, but I have to tell you if I had a son, I'd have to think long and hard before I let him play football,” said Obama. “And I think that those of us who love the sport are going to have to wrestle with the fact that it will probably change gradually to try to reduce some of the violence.
In some cases, that may make it a little bit less exciting, but it will be a whole lot better for the players, and those of us who are fans maybe won't have to examine our consciences quite as much.”
The president went on to say that he is more concerned with the safety of college athletes than in the pro ranks.
“I tend to be more worried about college players than NFL players in the sense that the NFL players have a union, they're grown men, they can make some of these decisions on their own, and most of them are well-compensated for the violence they do to their bodies,” Obama added.
“You read some of these stories about college players who undergo some of these same problems with concussions and so forth and then have nothing to fall back on. That's something that I'd like to see the NCAA think about.”
Safety concerns in the sport have been a key issue over the past couple of years especially those involving head trauma which can result in concussions. Several high-profile former NFL players have battled with the effects with sometime tragic results. Former Miami Dolphin Junior Seau took his own life after battling with head-trauma symptoms. A recent study showed he suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy. His family is looking into litigation against the NFL.
The NCAA’s position on concussions is improving but the organization currently does not have a school-wide policy when it comes to concussions. Instead, it leaves it up to the discretion of the individual schools. However, with renewed focus on the issue especially coming from as high up as the President of the United States, the NCAA might consider making it a priority in the near future.
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