Football fans do not want the game to change, but they also do not like the fact that so many players have sustained serious traumatic brain injuries on the field. This includes President Obama, who recently admitted that if he had a son, he might not let him play football given the risks of injury. “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.” The White House took a step in this direction by holding the Healthy Kids and Safe Sports Concussion Summit.
The Summit invited 200 representatives from professional football and soccer organizations, health advocates for children, and medical experts to share ideas about preventing sports-related head injuries, especially in school-age children. The NFL offered $25 million for youth safety programs, and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the Pentagon agreed to spend $30 million to study the effects of concussion on college students.
Medical research has shown that multiple concussions can cause depression and an increased risk for suicide — a finding tragically confirmed by the deaths of National Football League (NFL) players Jovan Belcher, Junior Seau and Paul Oliver, among others. Recently, retired players brought a class action suit against the League, citing the long-term consequences of head injuries. These can include: