President Obama said he would have concerns as a parent allowing a son to play football because of the threat of brain injuries.
“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 in an interview with The New Republic published Sunday.
“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,” he added.
A number of suicides of former professional football players who suffered head injuries has brought the National Football League (NFL) under pressure to do more to prevent concussions during play and lessen the risks to athletes from long-term neurological damage.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell last year met with members of the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force and has partnered with the U.S. Army to study brain injuries in football players and servicemembers and to share information.
Obama said he was more worried about the threat to college players than professionals.
"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,” he 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,” Obama added. “That's something that I'd like to see the NCAA think about.”