Alhough U.S. President Barack Obama is a noted football fan, he said in a recent interview that if he had a son, he would be extremely cautious before letting the hypothetical child play football because of the extreme physical toll it can take on a body.
"If I had a son, I'd have to think long and hard before I let him play football,” Obama told the New Republic.
In the interview in the magazine’s Feb. 11 issue, Obama said he worries about the physical consequences of playing football for too long, stating that, ultimately, fans might have to accept a new, less violent form of football for the good of the players.
''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,'' Obama told the New Republic.
While Obama is concerned about the physical toll of football on everyone who plays it, he said he is more concerned about college players due to their age and lack of compensation, as compared with NFL players.
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''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,'' Obama 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. That's something that I'd like to see the NCAA think about.''
More than 90 percent of NFL players who have died and donated their brains to science were confirmed to have suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain disease, ABC's "Good Morning America" reported. One of them was Junior Seau, a 20-season veteran linebacker in the NFL who was diagnosed with CTE after committing suicide last year.
While Obama has been critical of football in the press, NFL representative Greg Aiello insisted the organization takes player safety very seriously.
“We have no higher priority than player health and safety at all levels of the game,” Aiello told the Associated Press.