By Ken Reed

President Barack Obama, concerned about concussions in youth sports, hosted a conference on youth sports safety at the White House on Thursday.

He called for more research on concussions in young athletes and said a new attitude is needed when it comes to head injuries.

“We have to change a culture that says you suck it up,” said Obama regarding pressure athletes often feel to stay in practices or games after a potentially dangerous blow to the head.

Obama noted that concussions aren’t just an issue for youth football. He pointed out that concussions are a growing concern in hockey, soccer, lacrosse and other contact sports.

Obama was introduced by Victoria Bellucci, a young lady who suffered five concussions while playing high school and club soccer. She ultimately had to give up the sport.

“Concussions have drastically altered my life,” said Bellucci.

Obama drew national attention last year when he said he would have to think “long and hard” about allowing a son to play football because of the risk of a head injury.

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

Obama deserves kudos for drawing more attention to the issue but he has very little impact from a policy perspective. The president has no direct authority over youth sports leagues and the United States doesn’t have a national sports commission or sports minister, as many countries do, to address the issue. (See: Nader Calls for National Sports Commission).

As such, Obama is left with attempting to increase awareness and understanding about brain trauma injuries among parents, coaches and young athletes.

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


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