Super Bowl coaches hit back at Obama

SIMON EVANS
Last updated 18:35 29/01/2013
Barack Obama
BENJAMIN MYERS/ Reuters
GREAT ORATOR: Barack Obama.

Relevant offers

Other Sports

UFC snubs New Zealand with 2015 calendar No King a blow for NZ women's squash team Swift rise for Sam Charlton in the Black Sticks Gunnar Jackson and Kurt Bahram ready for WBO Oriental fight Helen King and Ali Forsyth book world bowls semifinals spots Archibald, Wilson back in Black Sticks men's side Stephanie Gilmore wins sixth world surfing title Sebastian Coe to challenge for IAAF presidency Kiwi Ali Forsyth closes in on semifinal spot at world bowls tourney Quiz: Test your sports knowledge - November 28

President Barack Obama's comments that he would "think long and hard" before letting a son play American football were shrugged off by Super Bowl coaches but there was some agreement from players that the game needed to evolve.

Obama's stance came in an interview with the New Republic where he was asked how he squares his love of the game with rising awareness of the impact of repeated head injuries on football players.

"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," said Obama.

"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," he said.

San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh was dismissive of Obama's comments.

"Well I have a four-month old, almost five-month old son, Jack Harbaugh, and if President Obama feels that way then there will be a little bit less competition for Jack Harbaugh when he gets older," he told reporters.

Brother John Harbaugh, coach of the Baltimore Ravens, the other team in Sunday's Super Bowl, said he didn't agree with Obama and stressed the game had much to offer.

"Football is a great game ... It's challenging, it's tough, it's hard. There is no game like football. It's the type of sport that brings out the best in you. It kind of shows who you are.

"I think it's a huge part of our educational system in this country. And it's going to be around for a long time," he said.

The 49ers' outside linebacker Aldon Smith said players were well aware of the risks involved.

"I think the game has been like it always has. It's a physical game. Everybody plays hard. Guys get hit sometimes and that's what we all know coming into the game.

"We all signed up for it. It's not like we signed up and thought we were going to play tennis," he said.

Concerns over the risk of brain injury from repeated concussions suffered by players in the NFL are growing with hundreds of former players involved in legal action against the league.

The NFL, America's most popular television sport and a $9 billion a year industry, has introduced tougher rules and regulations regarding the treatment of concussion.

Ravens center Matt Birk said he understood Obama's concerns and felt the game was beginning to change.

"I have three sons and I think anyone who is a parent can relate to that. Certainly it is a dangerous game and we're finding out more and more, every day, the long-term effects that this game can have.

Ad Feedback

"I think it's a joint effort with the (NFL) commissioner, with coaches, with players, with everybody, everybody that wants to watch and make this game as safe as it can be. I think we're making strides in that," he said.

San Francisco cornerback Tarell Brown agreed.

"It's definitely a dangerous sport, but at the end of the day the league is doing a great job of putting in place things to help players with safety," he said.

"I can understand where President Obama is coming from ... but at the same time the league is doing a great job of preventing a lot of those things." 

- Reuters

Special offers
Opinion poll

Will Shane Cameron beat Kali Meehan on Saturday?

For sure. Cameron will knock him out.

It will be close but I think Cameron on points.

Meehan will knock him out. This is his last fight.

I'm tipping Meehan to win on points.

Vote Result

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content