Syracuse (WSYR-TV) - With the Super Bowl just days away, President Barack Obama is now stepping into the controversy, questioning the health risks involved in football.
In an interview with The New Republic
, the president said the game should change to reduce some of the violence.
"If I had a son, I'd have to think long and hard before I let him play football," Obama told The New Republic.
As a fan, President Obama – like the rest of us – watches football players smash together.
Clinical psychologists like Dr. Don Brady say the long term effects can be more devastating than many of us realize, both on and off the field for players of all ages.
“When they try to go back to the classroom, they can't do it. So they have to take time out from the school and unfortunately some of these disabilities we're finding aren't just temporary, they're carrying over,” Brady said.
A study in the medical journal “Neurology”
suggests professional football players are three times more likely to have neurodegenerative diseases.
NFL players may have health insurance or compensation to help them initially with their injuries, but Obama points out that "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,” the President elaborated.
“And some of these injuries accumulate and become more serious over time. So there's no question about it that there's really got to be a re-thinking at all levels as far as compensation and health insurance for people who play,” Brady said.
As for stopping the injuries in the first place, the President noted that at some point fans may have to accept that football’s violent collisions will need to be curbed.
"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 said.
Brady works with active and retired NFL players. He says a major issue they’re running into down the road is the fact that many insurance companies view concussions as pre-existing conditions and patients’ claims are being denied.