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 »
"The Senate was expected to be back in session at noon, while House lawmakers were told to return to work for a 9 a.m. session. Mr. Trump on Friday had canceled plans to travel to his private resort on Palm Beach, Fla., where a celebration had been planned for Saturday to celebrate the anniversary of his first year in office."
"A stopgap spending bill stalled in the Senate Friday night, leading to a government shutdown for the first time since 2013. The continuing resolution funding agencies expired at midnight, and lawmakers were unable to spell out any path forward to keep government open. The Senate on Friday night failed to reach cloture on a four-week spending bill the House had already approved."
"The FBI is investigating whether a top Russian banker with ties to the Kremlin illegally funneled money to the National Rifle Association to help Donald Trump win the presidency." Investigators have focused on Alexander Torshin, the deputy governor of Russia’s central bank "who is known for his close relationships with both Russian President Vladimir Putin and the NRA." The solicitation or use of foreign funds is illegal in U.S. elections under the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) by either lobbying groups or political campaigns. The NRA reported spending a record $55 million on the 2016 elections.
"Hundreds of new and supplemental FARA filings by U.S. lobbyists and public relations firms" have been submitted "since Special Counsel Mueller charged two Trump aides with failing to disclose their lobbying work on behalf of foreign countries. The number of first-time filings ... rose 50 percent to 102 between 2016 and 2017, an NBC News analysis found. The number of supplemental filings, which include details about campaign donations, meetings and phone calls more than doubled from 618 to 1,244 last year as lobbyists scrambled to avoid the same fate as some of Trump's associates and their business partners."