Ahead of the Super Bowl, Trump said he would 'have a hard time' letting his son Barron play football, citing safety concerns

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  • In a CBS interview, President Donald Trump said he would “have a hard time” letting his son, Barron play football.
  • Trump said despite safety improvements, the risks for concussion and brain damage from the “dangerous” sport made him uneasy.
  • The president, who has close relationships within the National Football League and has shown an interest in football, was speaking in an interview aired hours before the 53rd Super Bowl.

President Donald Trump said he would “have a hard time” letting his son, Barron play football.

Speaking hours before the 53rd Super Bowl, Trump said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” that despite safety improvements to players’ equipment, the risks for concussion and brain damage from the “dangerous” sport made him uneasy.

When asked by CBS host Margaret Brennan if he would let Barron play, Trump said it was a “very tough” but “very good” question.

“If he wanted to? Yes. Would I steer him that way? No, I wouldn’t,” Trump said.

Trump pointed to the risk of head and brain trauma from the sport, which remains a serious danger for football players despite safety improvements to rules and equipment.

“I just don’t like the reports that I see coming out having to do with football – I mean, it’s a dangerous sport and I think it’s really tough, I thought the equipment would get better, and it has,” Trump said. “The helmets have gotten far better but it hasn’t solved the problem.”

Chief among the life-altering health threats is chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, a progressive degenerative disease believed to be caused by repeated hits to the head.

More than 100 deceased NFL players were diagnosed with CTE, common symptoms of which include memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment, impulse control problems, aggression, depression, suicidality, parkinsonism, and eventually progressive dementia, according to a specialty research center at Boston University.

The NFL denied and attempted to stifle research showing a link between football and the alarming disease for years, but admitted the direct association for the first time in 2016.

Trump previously suggested in 2017 that the NFL’s new rules barring certain hits that are meant to prevent brain injuries were degrading the sport’s entertainment value.

Though Trump has a long history of close relationships within the NFL and has expressed a personal interest in the league, he concluded he would “have a hard time” with Barron playing football.

“So, you know I hate to say it because I love to watch football,” Trump said. “I think the NFL is a great product, but I really think that as far as my son- well I’ve heard NFL players saying they wouldn’t let their sons play football. So. It’s not totally unique, but I- I would have a hard time with it.”

Read more: Amid safety concerns, a quarter of Americans want flag football to replace high school football

Trump added that Barron, who turns 13 next month, “actually plays a lot of soccer. He’s liking soccer. And a lot of people, including me, thought soccer would probably never make it in this country, but it really is moving forward rapidly.”

At his summit last year in Finland with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Trump was handed a World Cup soccer ball during a joint press conference, which he tossed to first lady Melania Trump in the first row, saying he would give it to their then 12-year-old son Barron.

The interview aired hours before the 53rd Super Bowl where the Los Angeles Rams would take on the New England Patriots.

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