President Barack Obama is a fan of football, in fact he says he’s a big fan. But as the risk of head injuries in America’s most popular sport move more and more into the spot light behind incidents like Junior Seau’s suicide and the murder-suicide of Jovan Belcher, many parents are wondering if football is a sport they’d let their children play.
President Obama hasn’t had to make that decision as the father of two daughters, but he says in a new interview that the decision would be a tough one.
“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,” Obama said in an interview with the New Republic. “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.”
But the risk amongst amateur players might be greater than those in the NFL. Amateur players are younger and more prone to make bad decisions. At the same time they’re more apt to make riskier decisions as they strive to break out and get a shot at big time collegiate football and one day the NFL.
Obama shares that his concern lies with America’s youth, not necessarily the players in the NFL making millions.
“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 said. “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.”
Both the NFL and the NCAA have made changes to the games in an attempt to make them safer. Moving the kick off closer, protecting the quarterback and defenseless players. But how much more can be change is yet to be seen.