Obama: Change Coming to NFL to Reduce 'Violence'

President Barack Obama said if he had a son, he would have to think "long and hard" before he let him play football and suggested he--along with other football fans--watches football against his conscience. 

"I'm a big football fan, but I have to tell you if I had a son, I'd have to think long and hard before I let him play football," Obama said. 

In an interview with the left-of-center New Republic, Obama said football will "probably change gradually to try to reduce some of the violence" and that may allow fans to not have to "examine our consciences quite as much" while watching the game. 

"And 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 said. "In some cases, that may make it a little bit less exciting, but it will be a whole lot better for the players, and those of us who are fans maybe won't have to examine our consciences quite as much."

He added he was more worried about college players and suggested the NCAA "think about" taking action to make the game safer, but did not get more specific. 

"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," Obama said. "That's something that I'd like to see the NCAA think about."

Obama was asked: "Sticking with the culture of violence, but on a much less dramatic scale: I'm wondering if you, as a fan, take less pleasure in watching football, knowing the impact that the game takes on its players."

He answered: 

I'm a big football fan, but I have to tell you if I had a son, I'd have to think long and hard before I let him play football. And 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. In some cases, that may make it a little bit less exciting, but it will be a whole lot better for the players, and those of us who are fans maybe won't have to examine our consciences quite as much.

I tend to be more worried about college players than NFL players in the sense that 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. 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.


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