A debate has continued for years in the United States about sports-related brain injuries, or concussions. Conflicting studies add fuel to arguments on both sides. Now the U.S. president has stepped into the middle of the dispute.
Barack Obama held an informational meeting about the subject on May 29th at the White House. He gathered representatives of professional sports groups, coaches, parents, young athletes and medical professionals to discuss the issue. The sport of American football is often at the center of the concussion debate. But, a high school soccer player opened the meeting.
Tori Bellucci is a skilled athlete. But she had to reject a college scholarship to play soccer after experiencing five concussions. Mr. Obama told the gathering that Tori's story showed that concussions were not just a football issue. He said parents across the U.S. are having troubling talks about the risks of concussions.
Mr. Obama noted that sports-related head injuries are increasing each year among young people. He suggested that one reason for the rise could be better identification of the injury. He said parents, teachers and coaches now better recognize the signs, including lack of balance, unclear thinking and eyesight and head pain. Mr. Obama said he does not want young people to avoid sports. Instead he called for more research. The president announced a joint effort from the National Collegiate Athletic Association and the Department of Defense. He said the $30 million project will carry out the widest study ever of concussions.