President Donald Trump, like many other parents with young sons, said he thought football was a dangerous sport and that he would have a hard time letting his son Barron play given the risk of head injuries.
“If he wanted to? Yes. Would I steer him that way? No, I wouldn’t,” Trump told CBS’s Margaret Brennan ahead of the Super Bowl on Sunday.
“I just don’t like the reports that I see coming out having to do with football — I mean, it’s a dangerous sport and I think it’s — I — it’s — really tough, I thought the equipment would get better, and it has. The helmets have gotten far better but it hasn’t solved the problem,” Trump added.
“So, you know I — I hate to say it because I love to watch football. I think the NFL is a great product, but I really think that as far as my son — well, I’ve heard NFL players saying they wouldn’t let their sons play football. So it’s not totally unique, but I — I would have a hard time with it.”
Barron, 12, is more interested in soccer anyway, Trump said.
The president’s comments about football come in the midst of growing recognition that football’s high-impact collisions can lead to concussions and other head injuries. These injuries can lead to long-lasting health issues, including chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE.
The NFL has attempted to deal with the issue by changing its rules to penalize the most violent helmet-to-helmet hits and to create standard protocols for dealing with head injuries. But their efforts can only do so much in a sport that revolves around powerful and fast humans slamming into each other.
Trump has previously criticized these new rules, saying they have made the game soft.
“Concussion? Oh, got a little ding on the head, no, no you can’t play for the rest of the season,” he said in October 2016.
“They are ruining the game,” he said of the NFL’s rules in September 2017. “Look, that’s what (players) want to do. They want to hit. They want to hit.”