By Justin Sink
President Obama will bring athletes, coaches, academics and parents to the White House later this month for a summit on youth sports safety and the dangers of concussions, an administration official said Thursday.
At the forum, the president will argue for a "team approach" to preventing and treating concussions, the White House said, with hopes of raising awareness of how to identify, treat and prevent concussions among young athletes. Obama will also call for additional research into the field of sports-related concussions, with the hopes of developing ways to better avoid such injuries.
The concussion forum was first reported by The Washington Post.
The president told The New Yorker earlier this year that he'd be reticent to allow his son, if he had one, play professional football because of the risk of concussions. More than 4,500 former NFL players have sued the league over its handling of concussions, which doctors say can be associated with permanent memory loss and behavioral changes.
Concussions have also been linked to chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a progressive degenerative brain disease.
“I would not let my son play pro football,” Obama told the magazine's editor, David Remnick, a former sportswriter. “But, I mean, you wrote a lot about boxing, right? We’re sort of in the same realm.”
Still, the president also said current NFL players “know what they’re doing” and understood the impact that concussions could have on their long-term health.
“At this point, there’s a little bit of caveat emptor,” Obama said. “These guys, they know what they’re doing. They know what they’re buying into. It is no longer a secret. It’s sort of the feeling I have about smokers, you know?”
The NFL agreed to a $765 million settlement with attorneys representing the former players last summer, under which it did not admit any liability or that brain injuries were the result of playing football.
A federal judge has not yet approved the deal over concerns the payout, which would be split among former players and medical researchers, would not be enough.