In an interview on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Donald Trump was asked by host Margaret Brennan whether he’d let his son Baron play football.
His answer echoes the concerns of many parents.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: It’s very, it’s very tough question. It’s a very good question. If he wanted to? Yes. Would I steer him that way? No, I wouldn’t.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Why?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I wouldn’t. And he actually plays a lot of soccer. He’s liking soccer. And a lot of people, including me, thought soccer would probably never make it in this country, but it really is moving forward rapidly. I- 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. 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.
For years, it’s been known that the effects of violent collisions between young children under the age of 13 can be dangerous to the growth and development of bones, ligaments, and cartilage. Changes have been made in youth football that have addressed some of those concerns, but it’s impossible to say that playing football as a young kid is “safe.”
This is especially true when it comes to brain injuries. I wrote about the concussion protocols in professional sports back in 2015:
The biggest change in professional sports over the past 5 years has been a growing emphasis on recognizing and treating concussions. Several alarming studies on both the short term and long term effects on the brain of concussions reveal problems that include memory loss, personality changes, chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), dementia, ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), and alzheimer’s disease to name a few.
And the frightening thing, is that experts say they’ve only scratched the surface as far as researching the effects of concussions on the brain. The science is in its infancy, and based on what’s been discovered so far, the prospects are not good that the news is going to get any better for those who play violent contact sports like football or hockey.
CTE is a nasty disease that usually shows up later in life and has been linked to concussions. The brain degeneration is associated with memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment, paranoia, impulse control problems, aggression, depression, and, eventually, progressive dementia. Here’s the kicker: There is no way to predict whether someone will be afflicted with CTE after one concussion or 20.
The disease is even showing up in adults who never played college or pro football. Trump is right to think twice about encouraging his son to play football, and to be concerned about Baron’s future health.