President Barack Obama recently hosted more than 200 sports leaders, athletes and parents at a White House summit. The topic of conversation? Concussions in sports.
With all that’s being learned about hits to the head and their lingering effects on mental health, the President feels it’s time to start raising awareness across the board, not just in the sport of football:
“Concussions are not just a football issue. They don’t just affect grown men who choose to accept some risk to play a game that they love and that they excel at. Every season, you’ve got boys and girls who are getting concussions in lacrosse and soccer and wrestling and ice hockey, as well as football.”
“We’ve got to have every parent and coach and teacher recognize the signs of concussions. And we need more athletes to understand how important it is to do what we can to prevent injuries and to admit them when they do happen…We have to change a culture that says you suck it up. Identifying a concussion and being able to self-diagnose that this is something that I need to take care of doesn’t make you weak. It means you’re strong.”
Obama also pointed out that the most recent annual CDC reports conclude that young people made nearly 250,000 emergency room visits with brain/head injuries from sports and recreation.
He’s right. Concussions are not just a football problem. They’re a problem, and will continue to be a problem in many sports if the proper steps aren’t taken to help athletes treat and avoid them. The ‘suck it up’ culture should no longer apply to hits to the head. They’re as serious as any sports injury.
The time is now for many sports to put prevention and treatment plans in place. Either the issue gets addressed now, or we’ll all pay a bigger price down the road.