Recalling own injuries, Obama calls for end to ‘suck it up’ culture in youth sports
May 29th, 2014
12:59 PM ET
2 months ago

Recalling own injuries, Obama calls for end to ‘suck it up’ culture in youth sports

(CNN) – Saying he wants to change a culture in youth sports where kids are encouraged to “suck it up” after sustaining head injuries, President Barack Obama on Thursday said it was time coaches and athletes started thinking about better ways to keep kids safe on playing fields.

Obama said he could recall instances during his own days in Pop Warner leagues when a particularly hard hit left him sidelined for a spell.

“There were a couple of times where I’m sure that that ringing sensation in my head and the need to sit down for a while might have been a mild concussion, and at the time you didn’t think anything of it,” he said at an event designed to bring awareness to head injuries in youth sports.

“The awareness is improved today, but not by much,” the President said. “So the total number of young people who are impacted by this early on is probably bigger than we know.”

Concerns about the risks inherent in tackle football and other sports have received a crush of attention in recent years as ex-professional players speak out on their own injuries.

In 2013, 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.

The growing conversation and concern prompted the White House to convene Thursday’s event, the Healthy Kids and Safe Sports Concussion Summit.

More than 200 participants, including the NFL, professional athletes and the Pentagon, discussed what can be done to help educate parents and athletes on how to better prevent concussions and protect athletes' brains.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said the summit came from conversations he and Obama had regarding the concerns parents had about concussions.

"As parents tend to do, we talk about our kids, and we talk a lot about sports," Carney said.

The White House announced initiatives, including an effort to help start a national concussion database through the University of California, Los Angeles, as well as a $30 million partnership between the National Collegiate Athletic Association and the Department of Defense to fund the most comprehensive clinical study of concussions among college athletes.

The NFL will commit $25 million to work with the National Athletic Trainers Association to get more athletic trainers in high schools. Currently, about half of all high schools have no athletic trainers on their sidelines.

Researchers say the risks aren’t just for football players – other sports can also cause brain injuries, including non-contact sports like soccer, baseball and cheerleading. Concussions in young athletes, whose brains are still developing, pose a particular concern to health experts.

Some research shows a greater risk for female athletes. Obama was introduced Thursday by a young woman who’d suffered five concussions by the end of her high school soccer career.

Studies have cited a “culture of resistance” among high school athletes to reporting concussions and taking the proper recovery steps after incurring them – a fact Obama said Thursday needed to change.

“We have to change a culture that says you suck it up,” he said. “Identifying a concussion and being able to self-diagnose that this is something that I need to take care of doesn’t make you weak - it means you’re strong.”

Most states have passed some kind of law to either increase awareness of concussions or try to prevent them, and individual districts and youth leagues have taken steps to tamp down on head injuries.

Dr. David Dodick of the Mayo Clinic told CNN the summit would focus unprecedented attention on the issue of concussions and youth athletes.

"It really highlights this as a public health crisis, and elevates this to a national health priority," he said.


Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (28 Responses)
  1. Amazed

    The pussification of America is complete.

    May 29, 2014 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  2. Eddie Haskell

    OK, let's see how quickly the right wing dopes start attacking him on this... Ho Hum

    May 29, 2014 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  3. Nanny State

    It is very clear we must BAN all kind of sports participation because injuries may occur. People have actually died playing sports as well. It could not be more obvious we must act swiftly and decisively to OUTLAW all sports. We must protect all from this danger. We can then move on to tackle other dangers in life to guarantee nobody ever suffers injury or death ever again. If we can save just one injury, just one life, then we must do this. And if you don't agree then you are just an mean uncaring person that doesn't care about kids and wants to see them dead.

    May 29, 2014 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  4. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA - Take Back the House

    The proper way of tackling isn't being taught anymore. Players shouldn't be leading with the crown of their helmet when they tackle.

    May 29, 2014 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  5. Liber Al Lazlows

    Next step in Liberal Utopia... BAN ALL CONTACT SPORTS!
    – they may cause injury
    – they may hurt your self-esteem when you lose
    – they might make you want/have to work harder to get better, because everyone is special
    – they might teach you hard lessons of how to accept loss and win graciously
    – they might teach you how to work as a team

    If you can't stand having you "little angel" getting hurt, go ahead and lock them up in your basement where they will be safe and sound.

    May 29, 2014 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  6. Donna

    Why doesn't Obama talk about something he knows a LOT about, drugs. He did drugs and far more kids are being affected by drug use than by sports injuries. Why doesn't he come out and speak about how kids need to stop doing drugs and wrecking their lives? Sports injuries are miniscule compared to the damage drug abuse does.

    May 29, 2014 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  7. smith

    The next liberal target is football. Liberals should remember the 80`s when Tipper Gore and the PMRC got smacked for trying to censor music and movies.

    May 29, 2014 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  8. S.B. Stein

    It is something to consider if you look at the adult players who have received multiple concussions. Think of the growing brain that is damaged; it either takes away from growth or stops growth in ways that will help the child.

    May 29, 2014 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  9. Dean

    Obama...we know you're not tough. Perhaps you should have played flag football...or been a cheerleader.

    May 29, 2014 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  10. ProudDem

    Oy...the POTUS talking about the need to do a better job keeping kids safe in sports. Let the hatred begin.

    May 29, 2014 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  11. Mai Bige Johnson

    Now when you grow up, you can always go crying home to Mommy.

    May 29, 2014 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  12. CryBabies

    I wonder if President Obama really played Pop Warner Football? Period.

    May 29, 2014 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  13. Smitty

    Maybe he should start wearing a skirt !!!!! It would make Putins life easier LOL!!!

    May 29, 2014 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  14. Sniffit

    "The next liberal target is football. Liberals should remember the 80`s when Tipper Gore and the PMRC got smacked for trying to censor music and movies."

    Grow the frig up. Children suffering multiple concussions before ever graduating high school is a serious problem. Conflating this with some grand conspiracy to attack football is borderline schizoid. Zip up, champ...your paranoid delusions are hanging out.

    May 29, 2014 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  15. Gurgyl

    These guys like crybabies, Donna, ja are acting like republicans, I bet they do not even make any money, just dope addicts, to blame Pres. Obama for every thing–it is fancy for these idiots. Know it.

    May 29, 2014 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  16. just asking

    if democrats and liberals are afraid of getting hurt then i would suggest they start their own league. we can call it the tutu league where contact is forbidden, thus no injuries (at least from contact), everybody will wear pink tights and purple tutuus with flags hanging all around them. i'm sure it will be highly successful as they are many liberals and democrats out there that are anxious to support such a league. ok, get going on this libs. it sounds like a great business model and think of all the good you will be doing!

    May 29, 2014 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  17. Sniffit

    "Why doesn't Obama talk about something he knows a LOT about, drugs. He did drugs and far more kids are being affected by drug use than by sports injuries. Why doesn't he come out and speak about how kids need to stop doing drugs and wrecking their lives? Sports injuries are miniscule compared to the damage drug abuse does."

    He does talk about drug abuse, but of course, when there's an article about him talking about X, you'll find a way to criticize him for not talking about Y...as if one instance of and one article about him talking about X means he never talks about Y. Your "logic" and "reasoning" is so severely and irreparably broken that it suggests you may have benefited from us trying to do something sooner about lessening the incidence rate of traumatic childhood sports-related head injuries. Was it a softball to the head or maybe a field hockey stick?

    May 29, 2014 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  18. Hairy reed

    Did his imaginary son get concussed as well?

    May 29, 2014 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  19. it must be said

    CryBabies
    I wonder if President Obama really played Pop Warner Football? Period.
    -–

    Sorry, this guy has told so many lies I don't believe a word he says about ANYTHING. Every parent whose kid plays football has a lot of pictures of them. When Obama produces one, I'll believe him. I have fallen for too many of his lies in the past. No more.

    May 29, 2014 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  20. just asking

    Sniffit
    He does talk about drug abuse,
    -–

    ok, back this up. when has he spoken out against drug use by young people?

    May 29, 2014 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  21. Democrat Destruction Spree

    First they came for your large sodas...
    Then they took your healthcare system...
    Then they come for your guns...
    Now they want to take your football....

    Conform to the demands of the left. Conform.

    May 29, 2014 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  22. smith

    Sniffit-What sport do you really think his statment targets? How are you gonna make football safer?

    May 29, 2014 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  23. Silence DoGood

    @ProudDem
    Oy...the POTUS talking about the need to do a better job keeping kids safe in sports. Let the hatred begin.
    ---------–
    The radical right would rather talk about stopping those dangerous gay marriages that are (not) injuring people.

    May 29, 2014 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  24. just asking

    glad to see the major topics are getting obama's attention.... the economy shrank 1% last quarter. obviously not that important for the nanny in chief.

    May 29, 2014 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  25. Smitty

    Any thing to distract from the real issues, didn't he tell us 5 years ago he was going to fix the VA??? He just gets more pathedic dailey

    May 29, 2014 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
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