Bloomberg News

Two-Thirds of Americans Would Let Sons Play Football, Poll Finds

January 31, 2013

U.S. President Barack Obama

U.S. President Barack Obama throws a football at Soldier Field in Chicago. Photographer: Pete Souza/The White House via Bloomberg

Two-thirds of Americans disagreed with U.S. President Barack Obama, saying they would let their sons play football, according to the Seton Hall Sports Poll.

After Obama said in an interview with the New Republic published Jan. 27 that he would have to think “long and hard” about letting his son, if he had one, play football because of its violence, 21 percent of people who responded agreed with Obama’s stance, 67 percent said they’d allow their sons to play, 9 percent said they would not and 3 percent declined to answer, according to the poll.

More than 2,000 National Football League players have filed more than 80 lawsuits against the league seeking damages for head injuries sustained on the field. Ex-NFL players Junior Seau, Andre Waters and Dave Duerson, who all committed suicide, all were found to be suffering from the brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy, which is caused by repeated head injuries.

“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,” Obama told the magazine. “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.”

The NFL Players Association two days ago gave a $100 million medical study grant to Harvard Medical School to find new ways to diagnose, treat and prevent injuries and illness related to the sport.

Asked if it was appropriate for Obama to comment on the violence in college and pro football, 60 percent said yes, 33 percent said no and 7 percent didn’t answer.

American Tradition

“Despite the president’s position and despite the almost daily coverage of the concussion dangers presented by the sport, football is America’s favorite sport and parents want to continue the tradition,” said Rick Gentile, director of the poll, which is conducted by the Sharkey Institute.

John Harbaugh, who will coach the Baltimore Ravens against his brother Jim’s San Francisco 49ers in the Feb. 3 Super Bowl, said football allowed him “an opportunity to grow as a person.”

“It’s the type of sport that brings out the best in you, it kind of shows you who you are,” Harbaugh said this week, according to an NFL “Health and Safety” news release. “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.”

It’s the first time two brothers coached against each other in the NFL championship. Asked if they knew which brother coached which team, 6 percent of those polled incorrectly named the wrong Harbaugh.

The telephone poll was conducted among 894 randomly selected people in the U.S., the New Jersey-based college said. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.3 percent.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mason Levinson in New York at mlevinson@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at msillup@bloomberg.net


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