As we were preparing for the first of two potentially epic NFL conference championship games, the SportsBusiness Daily Weekend Rap arrived in the email box — and rained on the otherwise clear-skied parade of high-intensity football contests.
President Barack Obama tells the New Yorker in a new interview, “I would not let my son play pro football.”
President Obama, who made his comments while the Panthers and Dolphins play on November 24, attributed his position to recent information about the health risks of football.
“At this point, there’s a little bit of caveat emptor,” Obama said. “These guys, they know what they’re doing. They know what they’re buying into. It is no longer a secret. It’s sort of the feeling I have about smokers, you know?”
Obama, a recovering smoker who was chewing a piece of nicotine gum while speaking, overlooks a couple of important factors in reaching his conclusion.
First, Obama doesn’t have a son. It’s impossible to comment with any degree of reliability on what a parent would or wouldn’t do with a son unless and until said parent actually has a son.
Second, there’s a point at which parents can’t stop their kids from doing what they choose to do. By the time the decision comes to play pro football, Obama’s non-existent son would be an adult. If Obama Jr. wanted to play football (and if he possessed the requisite skill), Obama Jr. would be playing pro football.
Third, Obama Jr. presumably wouldn’t need to pursue football as a way of paying for college. For children of families with lesser means, an athletic scholarship may be the only way to finance a university education.
Of course, for those who can’t pay for college, there’s always the military. And if the Commander-in-Chief wouldn’t allow his son at the age of 21 or older to play in the NFL, what would he say if his nonexistent 18-year-old son (or his two daughters) declare an intention to join the military, which entails far greater long-term and short-term physical hazards than pro football?
Yes, football carries with it risk. So does plenty of other activities, including driving a car — which I’d prefer that my own 17-year-old son not do. While parents with male children have every right to harbor reservations about their sons playing football at the youth, middle school, high school, college, and/pro level, it would be nice if people in prominent positions of influence who don’t have sons would think twice before speaking in absolutes about hypothetical situations that they ultimately would have a hard time controlling.