Obama: Sports concussions need more attention

"We have to change a culture that says you suck it up."
Associated Press
May 29, 2014

Saying he wants kids to play sports but play safely, President Barack Obama called Thursday for more and better research into the effects and treatment of concussions in youth athletes. The issue is one of growing concern for parents who spend weekends driving their kids from one game to another.

But without direct authority over youth sports leagues, Obama's ability to address the issue meaningfully is limited to calling for research and trying to jumpstart a national conversation to teach parents, coaches and young athletes about concussions — the goal of a summit he hosted at the White House.

He also said a new attitude is needed where players who have been hit don't feel wimpy for sitting out a game or two.

"We have to change a culture that says you suck it up," Obama said, adding that he probably suffered mild concussions as a young football player. He noted that concussions are also an issue in soccer, hockey, lacrosse and other contact sports.

The event brought together representatives of professional and college sports associations, coaches, parents, young athletes, doctors and others. The president was introduced by Victoria Bellucci, a high school graduate from Huntingtown, Maryland, who suffered five concussions during her high school and club soccer career.

Victoria said her injuries made it hard to focus on her assignments. She eventually turned down a full scholarship to play soccer at Towson University in Maryland and will instead attend Flagler College in Florida in the fall, the White House said.

"Concussions have drastically altered my life," she said.

Obama, an avid sports fan whose two daughters are active in sports, also highlighted millions of dollars in pledges from the NFL, the National Institutes of Health and others to conduct research that could begin to provide answers and improve safety.

"We want our kids participating in sports," he said. "As parents, though, we want to keep them safe."

Nearly 250,000 kids and young adults visit hospital emergency rooms each year with brain injuries caused by sports or other recreational activity, Obama said. He noted that the figure excludes those who see a family doctor or seek no treatment.

Obama previously had waded into the debate over concussions, saying last year that he'd have to think "long and hard" about allowing a son to play football because of the risk of head injury.

The NFL recently agreed to pay $765 million to settle concussion claims from thousands of former players whose complaints range from headaches to Alzheimer's disease. That settlement is still awaiting a judge's approval, while a group of former professional hockey players has filed a class-action lawsuit of their own against the NHL for head injuries sustained on the ice.

Among the financial pledges Obama highlighted is a $30 million joint research effort by the NCAA and Defense Department and an NFL commitment of $25 million over the next three years to promote youth sports safety.

UCLA also will use $10 million from New York Giants co-owner Steve Tisch, who attended the summit, to launch a program to study sports concussion prevention, outreach, research and treatment for athletes of all ages, but especially youth. The money will also support planning for a national system to determine the incidence of youth sports concussions.

Panelists who discussed the issue after Obama spoke agreed that information and education are important. Otherwise, parents' fears about on-field safety could lead them to pull their kids from team sports, an outcome the panelists agreed would be harmful for young people because of the benefits of participation in athletics.

"Do you replace kicking a soccer ball with Doritos?" asked former NFL linebacker LaVar Arrington.

Gen. Ray Odierno, the Army chief of staff, said he worries that without education "we walk away from sports." He said he would not have attended the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, "if not for sports."

Odierno participated in the summit because concussions are a form of traumatic brain injury, which has become a signature issue of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan because of the widespread use by insurgents of improvised explosive devices.

Jack Crowe, a former head football coach at Jacksonville State University in Alabama, who was not on the panel, said after the summit that what's needed is a new climate that puts as much emphasis on safety as on winning.


There you go again

I agree, indeed, but can we just get some answers on the current scandals of this administration?


You mean the fake scandals that Republicans have invented?


We need to pusify America!


Obama is a weak, unmanly, wuss, he makes me nauseous.


His photo here verifies your comment: )

JD's picture

He needs to get the attention off the scandals


You would think he wanted more of them in our society, Just look at Coaster, Big dog and others that still support this fool. Concussions are a bonus to the democrats.


I support Democrat politicians because they advocate the things that are important to me. I also prefer intelligent, well-spoken politicians like Obama, who can actually put a sentence together.

Bush needed to have press conference questions asked to him in a certain order, so that he could read the answers his staff typed up for him. It's also well-documented that Bush needed big words spelled out phonetically for him on his teleprompter.

So, yeah, I support Obama, as opposed to the undereducated simpletons that the GOP gives us...Palin, Bush, Perry, Bachmann, the list goes on and on, doesn't it?

Darwin's choice

You support democrats because thats what you're told to do. Troll!



So you mean to tell me the guy who has visited all 57 states and could not order a glass of water without a teleprompter is intelligent? You support liars and thieves and aren't smart enough to realize that you even do so.
As I stated before they need more brain damaged voters such as yourself to be able to stay in office and your a prime example of why.

Darwin's choice

Jay Carney leaves the sinking ship!!!!

This is getting better every day!!

He was tired of lying!!


Re: "well-spoken politicians like Obama, who can actually put a sentence together."

Uh...you...ah.....like....er...well-spoken politicians like...uh...Obama, because they can...er...actually put a...ah...sentence together?

There is absolutely no comparison between Mr. Obama and someone with speaker training.


cfan, the fact that you and other dims are impressed by a smooth-talking snake oil salesman speaks volumes about you and your party...easily impressed, love to look at the shiny objects, short on substance.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

"Saying he wants kids to play sports but play safely," - Is there a group or law that is encouraging kids to play unsafely? Is there a coach's association that meets regularly to purposely misdirect kids and ensure they are injured?

"But without direct authority over youth sports leagues, Obama's ability to address the issue meaningfully is limited" - Oh, sooooo the President of the United States needs direct control and authority over every single sports event. This quote is most telling. If only he could control so many other aspects of life...

"We have to change a culture that says you suck it up," - Again, where is this culture? When I played football and threw in track I never experienced this. Maybe my coaches weren't a part of this seemingly vast "culture" that is purposely wanting to injure kids?

"adding that he probably suffered mild concussions as a young football player" - Beyond making things about him at a youth summit on concussions this just seems...odd. Why would he say something like this? Either he had concussions or didn't. If he did, then what? Depending on how you view him he is an example of multiple-concussion suffers turning out a-ok or that his policy choices could only be decided upon by a beat-up brain. That's up to each of you. I suppose this is cover for Hillary Clinton as well? See? This is just such an awkward thing to say.

"Nearly 250,000 kids and young adults visit hospital emergency rooms each year with brain injuries caused by sports or other recreational activity, Obama said. He noted that the figure excludes those who see a family doctor or seek no treatment." - What is other recreational activity? How is this relevant when no context is given? You look at this number and think "That's a lot" (it is) but then you look at the fact that we have 320,000,000 people in our nation so wouldn't it actually seem to be a fairly unavoidable percentage that have accidents? So every year .0008% of the population has head-related accidents. I'm sorry to hear that even one does but we have to realize just how many people in our nation there are.

Overall the issue is important. The fact the President made it personal as a possible...quasi-victim?...was awkward. I certainly agree with those at the end of the story. It can be looked into and I would encourage safe play, but to just presume a culture of harm exists in the majority is false. The most disturbing line, even if written only by the reporter, was the lamenting that the President doesn't have total control over this. Frankly with the way so many other things are going (perhaps the scandals mentioned above) it is best that he not get his hands on this issue.


"Is there a group or law that is encouraging kids to play unsafely?"

Tort law Hero, with this they have removed most of the fun playground items for our children, like the merry-go-round and stainless steel slide. But for some reason, mostly political it is unsafe to play dodge ball but it is ok to slam them into one another on a football field. All political, you can never get rid of the things that are so precious. Take NYC, the subway, pretty dangerous, I rode them all week and read a posted sign in a car, 141 people were hit and 55 died in 2012 alone, I see the mayor wanting to ban large sodas but not the use of the subway?

The Bizness

I think the point of that first quote is to make sure coaches understand signs and symptoms of concussions.

Your second quote was not written by Obama, so how is it telling? Obama is using his position to get an important issue more attention.

Suck it up culture is alive and well in many youth sports. I am sure you can ask many parents this. I am a coach, and I know parents who tell their children to suck it up.

His own life experience is important, I have had concussions, and so I am more aware of the issues.

Sure your number the number is small, but if one kid gets knocked in the head and it causes a brain contusion, which could cause death. that is one too many.

I am not sure why you think that President Obama spending a few hours on concussion awareness is a bad idea? Like I said, as a coach the culture of "suck it up" is alive and well.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

Hey Biz thanks for the reply! Replies? I did throw a lot out there. Ultimately as I'm sure you saw I wasn't against this activity or the purpose for it. I don't think it was a bad idea at all. It was just awkward that the President threw in an effecting "yeah, you know, I may or may not have had several concussions".

As for the "telling" part, it may not have been clear in one place but please notice I didn't attribute that directly to the President. I did provide that even if it was manufactured by the reporter just how disturbing that thought is that even the reporter thinks the President needs direct power over this.

I'm glad to hear you coach! But don't you find it unfair being lumped into the "suck it up" culture when I can make the safe presumption you are not a part of it? That while there are parents who may be that it is just the presumed default that people actually don't care about each other? That, combined with the notion that government needs to control this when they are failing to control so many other things is just...bla. It's numbing.

I suppose the last thing to bring up is your point about even one child getting hurt. I agree here as I mentioned in my original comment. However with 320,000,000 citizens in our country it is going to happen statistically whether we want it or not. I don't mind looking at statistics or numbers, but context when they are lobbed out can help us see the bigger picture. Saying again that even one is bad as I'd never want it to happen to my children, I think for a nation our size only having .0008% of the population suffer head injuries during "sports or other recreational activities" isn't too bad in the aggregate. Something can only improve/grow/etc. so much before nothing else can effectively be done to continue that trend.

I'm happy to keep talking if you'd like, Biz, we have some great exchanges!


Re: "he (Obama) probably suffered mild concussions as a young football player."

THAT and the excessive drug usage 'might' explain a lot. :)


You know you have a bad case of Obama Derangement Syndrome when you knock him for advocating something that we ALL should be in agreement upon: preventing concussions...

Darwin's choice

How about the bad case of obama-suck-up-itis you've got? troll!

We should all be in agreement on getting rid of the failure in the white house.



Meanwhile veterans are dying and this moron Obama wants to talk about this? My god this man has no shame.


Republicans supported $5 trillion in spending on two wars, but earlier this year blocked a $21 billion dollar bill to help veterans.

So, they send our young men and women to war, but won't provide funding for the things they need after they come home injured for life. Republican politicians have no shame.

Darwin's choice

Democrats supported and voted for the same wars, troll!



Pres. Obama reminds me of the character Don Quixote:

Riding off in every direction, slicing and thrusting his sword wildly in the air and ultimately accomplishing NOTHING.

When describing him, the term "quixotic" comes to mind:

"exceedingly idealistic; unrealistic and impractical."


When it comes to this administration, the movie "Idiocracy" comes to mind. How anyone can proudly say they voted and support this clown is beyond me.


Re: "the movie "Idiocracy" comes to mind."

I woulda thought that his head woulda been bigger. :)

Agreed. But I'd also include the entire progressive-socialist movement.

Pres. Obama is a symptom, he's NOT the disease.


LOL, you guys really need to get your heads out of your Foxholes. The America you see bears little, if any, resemblance to what is actually happening.

The recession is over, 9 million jobs have been added to the economy, the auto industry was saved, a major health care reform law brought coverage to millions of Americans, unemployment has gone way down, inflation is way down, the housing industry and banks have recovered, the federal deficit has been cut in half thanks to massive spending cuts, we've exited 1 unpopular Bush/Cheney war and are winding down on the other.

For a much, much shorter list of accomplishments, see; George W. Bush.

Basically, America was dropping into an abyss by 2008, and under Obama we've done a complete 180. Are we there yet? Nope? Are things better than they were under Bush, and are they headed in the right direction? Absolutely.

Darwin's choice

You need to stop drinking from toilet. Do you have any facts/proof to backup you lies???? We know better. It's comical that you use this forum to try to sway people with your BS.



I have a question for you. With the unemployment numbers still at 12.6%, The Fed bailing out everyone for 85 billion dollars a month, Millions being thrown off their insurance and paying higher premiums for less coverage under Obamadontcare,a stagnant housing market along with numerous other things how can you claim not to be brain damaged to think we are doing better?
If you do not have brain damage then you have no excuse for being a moron and need to open a book or at least quit getting your news from the comedy channel.

Dr. Information

This idiot will do anything to get the attention off of the more important items.