President Donald Trump said Sunday he would prefer his son to play soccer rather than American football, describing gridiron as “dangerous.”
In an interview with CBS’s “Face the Nation”, which aired as millions of Americans prepare to watch the Super Bowl, Trump said he was concerned about safety aspects of the sport.
Asked if he would let his 12-year-old son Barron to play gridiron, Trump replied: “It’s a very tough question. If he wanted to? Yes. Would I steer him that way? No, I wouldn’t.”
Asked to elaborate, Trump revealed Barron played soccer, which is the most played sport by youngsters in the United States yet remains in the shadow of basketball, American football and baseball.
“He’s liking soccer,” Trump said. “And a lot of people, including me, thought soccer would probably never make it in this country, but it really is moving forward rapidly.”
Trump, who during campaign rallies in 2017 complained that new National Football League rules designed to improve player safety were “ruining the game”, told CBS he was concerned by the sport’s risks.
“I just don’t like the reports that I see coming out having to do with football,” he said. “It’s a dangerous sport … I hate to say it because I love to watch football.
“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. I would have a hard time with it.”
The NFL has had to deal with mounting concerns over the safety of the sport over the past decade after multiple studies which have highlighted the long-term health risks associated with the sport.
In 2016, the NFL agreed to pay more than 1 billion dollars to players suffering from the neuro-degenerative condition chronic traumatic encephalopathy, which is known to have affected hundreds of former players.
Trump’s reservations mirror concerns of safety advocates.
The Concussion Legacy Foundation non-profit group has campaigned for children to be prevented from playing full-contact gridiron until they are at least 14.