In an interview with the New Republic last year, the president expressed concerns that the institutional protections of the NCAA and other youth athletic associations were insufficient in addressing the lingering effects of physical injuries, particularly head trauma, saying he "would have to think long and hard" if he had a son whether to allow him to play football. The White House says his concern was amplified by a 2013 study from the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council, which summarized significant shortcomings in research knowledge and data collection of concussions.
The White House will use the event to announce a variety of new policy initiatives, including commitments to further research and public-private partnerships aimed at making concussion care and treatment available to young athletes. "The President believes we can and must do better and the Administration is committed to helping ensure that children continue to be active and play sports safely" the White House said in a statement.
The summit comes as Democrats are pushing back against statements by GOP political strategist Karl Rove suggesting former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton suffered lingering effects from a fall in her Washington home in December 2012.
At a May 14 question and answer session at the Peterson Foundation, former President Bill Clinton contradicted previous State Department claims about his wife's injuries, when he revealed that she required "six months of very serious work to get over" a concussion she'd suffered when she fell.
Despite poll results showing that most Americans disapproved of Rove's comments, Obama's efforts to highlight the lingering effects of concussions may help keep that issue in the public conversation as Clinton considers a presidential run in 2016.