Washington (CNN) – President Barack Obama is taking on an issue causing alarm at schools and kitchen tables across the country: the increasing rate of concussions in young athletes.
The White House said on Friday that Obama would host a “safe sports” summit convening coaches and experts in the coming weeks, where he’ll announce vows from public and private partners to raise awareness of brain and head injuries in kids’ sports.
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“As both a parent and an avid sports fan the President appreciates the role that sports plays in the lives of young people, and his administration is committed to helping ensure that children continue to be active and play sports safely," Press Secretary Jay Carney said at Friday's briefing.
Obama has spoken several times about the dangers in playing contact sports, including telling The New Republic magazine last year he’d have to think “long and hard” before allowing his sons, if he had any, to 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,” he said.
Concerns about the risks inherent in tackle football received a crush of attention in 2013, when the National Football League reached a deal with ex-players to pay over $700 million to fund medical exams, research, and compensation to athletes with concussion-related ailments.
Carney wouldn’t say on Friday whether the NFL would participate in the May 29 summit, though he said the league was “vital” in the effort toward stemming childhood head injuries.
But researchers say other sports also carry risks – including non-contact sports like soccer, baseball and cheer-leading. Concussions in young athletes, whose brains are still developing, pose a particular concern to health experts.
Studies have cited a “culture of resistance” among high school athletes to reporting concussions and taking the proper recovery steps after incurring them.