Since his first campaign as United States President, Barack Obama has often shown a passion and wide-range of knowledge of everything sports. He has weighed in on the NCAA Basketball Tournament and the idea of a College Football playoff system. Most recently, President Obama shared some opinions on the subject of football and the spotlighted issue of concussions.
In a recent interview with The New Republic, Obama publicly stressed caution and wariness on young boys playing the sport of football and his thoughts on the future of the game:
"I have to tell you if I had a son, I’d have to think long and hard before I let him play football." 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.
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. 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.
The comments were met with polarizing opinions, ranging from the "football gives young men a chance at a quality education that they might not have been given without the sport" camp, as well as those in agreement with President Obama's sentiments.
The NFL made a statement in response to President Obama's comment on the subject as well via NFL Spokesman Greg Aiello, as did the USA Football organization. To paraphrase, Aiello said that the League was doing all that they could to continue extensive concussion research and will continue to do so. USA Football made a bit more of a pointed statement, claiming that the game of football teaches valuable lessons to youth and citing that 1.12 million high school boys play the sport.