As research about concussions in sports continues to pour out, President Obama will host a White House summit later this month focusing on the risk concussions pose to young athletes. According to the Washington Post, which first reported the summit, the May 29 event will include young athletes, parents, coaches, professional athletes, and members of the military.
White House press secretary Jay Carney said this week that the summit will include the announcement of new initiatives to help research and address concussions in youth sports.
“The president will announce new commitments by both the public and private sectors to raise awareness about how to identify treat and prevent concussions, and conduct additional research in the field of sports-related concussions that will help us better address these problems,” Carney said.
The dangers of concussions have been a major issue in sports in recent years, as the NFL, NHL, and NCAA have all faced class action lawsuits from former players alleging that they did little to address the brain injuries in the past. While facing the litigation, all three organizations have made rule changes in an attempt to prevent concussions and bolster concussion management protocols; Major League Baseball, the NBA, and other leagues have acted similarly.
But youth sports remain an area of special concern, in part because so little is known about how concussions and other sports-related brain injuries affect young athletes both in the short and long terms. Research has suggested that young athletes may suffer more concussions than older players and that the effects may be worse. The “culture of resistance” to addressing concussions is significant in youth sports, and one major issue according to a large study released last year is that there simply hasn’t been enough research into youth concussions to know the true risks and effects.
States across the country have passed laws in recent years to update concussion management protocols in an attempt to protect young athletes. Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin (D), meanwhile, has introduced federal legislation that would require states to implement certain concussion procedures for athletes in scholastic sports.