President Barack Obama commented to The New Republic last weekend that he would have to think twice if he had a son whether to allow him to play football.
I’m a big football fan, but I have to tell you if I had a son, I’d have to think long and hard before I let him play football. And I think that those of us who love the sport are going to have to wrestle with the fact that it will probably change gradually to try to reduce some of the violence.
His comments were published just in time for the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers to arrive in New Orleans for Super Bowl Week. Players and coaches have reacted to the president’s remarks.
The Detroit Free Press reported that 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh would allow his son to play football.
“Well, I have a 4-month old, almost soon to be 5-month-old son, Jack Harbaugh,” Harbaugh said. “And if President Obama feels that way then there’ll be a little bit less competition for Jack Harbaugh when he gets older.
“That’s the first thing that jumped into my mind if other parents are thinking that way. But it’s still early. Jack is, like I said, only 5 months old, but he’s a really big kid. He’s got an enormous head.”
The Baltimore Ravens had mixed reactions to the president’s comments, including Ravens safety Ed Reed who agreed with Obama, according to The Times-Picayune.
“It should be a certain way,” he said. “We have enough medicine and stuff going on around the country to where the training rooms could be a lot better. But I’m with Obama because I have a son.”
“I’m not forcing football on my son. If he wants to play it … Do you let him play? Do you turn him away from it? You can’t make decisions for him. At the end of the day, all I can do is say ‘Son, I played it so you don’t have to.’ “
And Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco seemed less concerned about the subject.
“When you talk about little kids doing it they’re not having the collision that we’re having at the NFL level,” he said. “They’re a bunch of 50-pound or 140-pound kids. I don’t know how much damage they’re actually doing to each other.?
Several 49ers, though, said they’d let their sons play and think the game is safer now.
“It is a violent game, but not too violent,?” Niners fullback Bruce Miller. “Guys are big and explosive players so the game is violent, but I don’t know about too violent. I think they are taking caution to be careful and concerned for the players safety and taking that into account more.”
– Bill Bradley, contributing editor