“Identifying a concussion and being able to self-diagnose that, 'this is something that I need to take care of,' doesn’t make you weak. It means you’re strong," Obama said of athletes acknowledging concussions, while he announced new private-public funding to study head injuries in sports.
The president admitted that he likely suffered from mild concussions in his youth but kept playing anyway.
The White House event comes after Obama famously declared that if he had a son, he wouldn't want him to play professional football.
And in some of the nation’s marquee sporting events, athletes are still trying to mask head injuries.
Paul George, the leading scorer for the National Basketball Association's Indiana Pacers, admitted in recent days that he should not have revealed his concussion symptoms during the ongoing Eastern Conference Finals against the Miami Heat.
“I probably should have kept that to myself,” he told reporters. “It just made a mess. That's something that, going forward, just keep that between myself and the training staff."
George played the final six minutes of Game 2 against the Heat despite a blow to the head — he was later diagnosed with a concussion.
Such thinking is what Obama and a growing number of sports leagues are attempting to combat.
However, critics fear that the concussion initiative, which is receiving tens of millions of dollars in funding, will get lost in the billions of dollars at stake in professional and youth sports.
And Obama said he didn’t want to discourage children from playing sports, which has become an area of refuge for the commander in chief.
"When I need to relax or clear my head,” Obama, an avid golfer and former basketball player said, “I turn to sports."