Obama to spotlight risks
of head injuries in sports
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[May 29, 2014]
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -
President Barack Obama will host a conference
highlighting the risks of head injuries to young
athletes on Thursday, seeking to use the power of his
office to promote awareness of ways to avoid and treat
concussions, White House officials said.
The president is drawing on his own enthusiasm for sports both as a
player and a spectator and his concern as a father to convene the
gathering, officials said. The event will assemble representatives
of professional and collegiate sports, athletes, coaches,
researchers and children, the officials added.
"The president is a big sports fan," said White House communications
director Jennifer Palmieri. "There's not enough that we know about
concussions and how they relate to young athletes."
The four major professional U.S. sports leagues, governing football,
baseball, hockey and basketball, bring in about $23 billion in
revenue each year and sales of sports equipment in the United States
are valued at $42 billion annually.
Awareness of the long-run health effects of concussions in sports
has jumped in recent years, particularly in football.
The NFL agreed in August to pay $765 million to settle a lawsuit
brought by thousands of former players, many suffering from dementia
and health problems. They accused the league of hiding the dangers
of brain injury while profiting from the sport's violence.
A judge in January rejected the deal, saying it might not be enough
to pay all of the affected players.
Obama, whose fondness for watching sports on television is well
known, has said in interviews he would have reservations about
letting a son play football if he had one. He has two daughters.
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The event is due to spotlight several initiatives to study head
injuries in sports, aides said. The NCAA and the Department of
Defense are due to launch a $30 million study of ways to reduce
concussions in sports and the military.
The NFL will spend $25 million over the next three years to promote
youth sports safety, the White House said.
(Reporting By Mark Felsenthal; Editing by Tom Brown)
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