How Obama Wants to Make Sports Safer

The president announced new initiatives Thursday to address the problem of concussions in young athletes.

WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 19: U.S. President Barack Obama greets players as he visits a little league baseball game at Friendship Park May 19, 2014 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images)
National Journal
Sophie Novack
Add to Briefcase
Sophie Novack
May 29, 2014, 8:50 a.m.

Pres­id­ent Obama said Thursday that he prob­ably had a few mild con­cus­sions while play­ing foot­ball as a boy, but he didn’t do any­thing about them. Now he wants to make sure the same thing doesn’t hap­pen to kids today.

The pres­id­ent con­vened a group of med­ic­al ex­perts, top sports of­fi­cials, par­ents, and young ath­letes at the White House on Thursday for the Healthy Kids and Safe Sports Con­cus­sion Sum­mit — the first event of its kind. He used the event to em­phas­ize the im­port­ance of sports for young people as well as the need for great­er un­der­stand­ing and at­ten­tion to the risks of head in­jur­ies — and he an­nounced a series of new pro­grams and part­ner­ships ded­ic­ated to this goal.

“For so many of our kids, sports aren’t just something they do, they’re part of their iden­tity,” Obama said. “Sports teach us about team­work and hard work and what it takes to suc­ceed not only on the field, but in life.”

But the high rate of head in­jur­ies and its neg­at­ive health im­pact on young ath­letes is a ma­jor con­cern for the pres­id­ent, both as a par­ent and a sports en­thu­si­ast. He cited a re­cent Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion re­port that found young people make about 250,000 vis­its to emer­gency rooms each year with sports or re­cre­ation-re­lated brain in­jur­ies. And this doesn’t in­clude those who vis­ited fam­ily doc­tors, or who didn’t re­port the in­jur­ies at all, he poin­ted out.

“We want our kids par­ti­cip­at­ing in sports,” Obama said. “I’d be much more troubled if young people were shy­ing away from sports. As par­ents, though, we want to keep them safe, and that means we have to have bet­ter in­form­a­tion. We have to know what these is­sues are. And the fact is we don’t have sol­id num­bers, and that tells me that at every level we’re all still try­ing to fully grasp what’s go­ing on with this is­sue.”

As a res­ult, the White House is an­noun­cing new part­ner­ships and com­mit­ments to ad­vance re­search on these in­jur­ies. Among those an­nounced Thursday are:

  • A col­lab­or­a­tion between the NCAA and the De­fense De­part­ment to com­mit $30 mil­lion for con­cus­sion edu­ca­tion, and a study in­clud­ing up to 37,000 col­lege ath­letes. The Army, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard are set to sup­port the study as well.
  • A ded­ic­a­tion by the NFL of $25 mil­lion over three years to test vari­ous strategies, in­clud­ing hold­ing health and safety for­ums for par­ents, and in­creas­ing train­ers at high school games.
  • A part­ner­ship between the Na­tion­al In­sti­tutes of Health and the NFL, in which NIH will ded­ic­ate $16 mil­lion of the NFL’s pre­vi­ous dona­tion to­ward clin­ic­al tri­als and stud­ies to look at long-term ef­fects of re­peated con­cus­sions.
  • An in­vest­ment by the Na­tion­al In­sti­tute of Stand­ards and Tech­no­logy of $5 mil­lion over five years to­ward the de­vel­op­ment of bet­ter ma­ter­i­als for pro­tect­ive sports gear.

The pres­id­ent also fo­cused on the im­port­ance of ath­letes un­der­stand­ing their own symp­toms — and do­ing something about them.

“We have to change a cul­ture that says, ‘You suck it up,’ ” Obama 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.”

What We're Following See More »
SENTENCED FOR EXPLICIT MESSAGES TO MINO
Anthony Weiner: 21 Months in Prison
0 minute ago
THE LATEST

"Anthony Weiner was sentenced to 21 months in prison for exchanging sexually explicit messages with a 15-year-old girl, capping the spectacular fall of the former congressman whose self-destructive behavior wrecked his career and marriage and played a role in the final days of the 2016 presidential campaign. A tearful Weiner told U.S. District Judge Denise Cote that 'the crime I committed is my rock bottom.'"

Source:
16 YEARS, $70 BILLION DOWN THE DRAIN
Report: U.S. Failed in Training Afghan Forces
20 minutes ago
THE DETAILS

"The U.S. has invested 16 years and more than $70 billion to train Afghan security forces, but the effort has been undermined by poor planning, training and oversight, a government watchdog said in a report Thursday. The 259-page report by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, or Sigar, offered a critical assessment of one of the top goals of the U.S. effort in Afghanistan—to train local forces so they can secure Afghanistan on their own. The report details how unprepared the U.S. was to train local forces when the war began in 2001 and concludes many of the problems that hampered the early days of the war still exist."

Source:
WARNING ISSUED 2009, STILL PROBLEM
People Terrorist Ties Licensed to Fly, Repair Aircraft
23 minutes ago
THE DETAILS

In 2009, the Federal Aviation Administration warned that individuals with terrorist ties were licensed to fly or repair planes. Years later, it is still a problem. Researcher Mark Schiffer found several known terrorists have FAA licenses when testing an algorithm on public records. Part of the problem is the FAA does not use photos on licenses and does not completely vet information. But they claim pilot certificates are to show the pilot's training level—not security—and pilots have to have government-issued IDs.

Source:
OTHER OFFICIALS ALSO USED PRIVATE ACCOUNTS
Kushner Private Email for WH Business
1 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"Presidential son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner has corresponded with other administration officials about White House matters through a private email account set up during the transition last December, part of a larger pattern of Trump administration aides using personal email accounts for government business." His lawyer said Kushner and his colleagues usually forwarded news articles or political commentaries.

Source:
TO TALK ABOUT AGENDAS AND ELECTIONS
Trump to Dine with GOP Donors Tuesday
1 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"President Trump will meet with major GOP donors for a private dinner on Tuesday in New York as part of a fundraising effort for the Republican National Committee, according to three people briefed on his plans." Trump is expected to talk about the party's agenda on the Hill and the midterm elections.

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login