Sport management professor attends White House summit
GAINESVILLE, Fla. --- A University of Florida professor recently attended a White House summit on youth sports and concussions.
John Spengler, a professor in sport management in the College of Health and Human Performance, was invited to attend the White House Healthy Kids & Safe Sports Concussion Summit held in the East Room of the White House.
"What stood out for me was the recognition by the Office of the President of the importance of youth sport in America — not only as a way to move and be active,” he said, “but also as a way for youth to build character and grow mentally and emotionally.”
The primary focus of Spengler’s research is on legal and policy issues around sport and recreation safety, obesity prevention and physical activity. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has funded his research to guide policies to promote opportunities for safe and affordable physical activity, particularly for lower-income children and children of color.
“Sports play an essential role in the lives of young people,” he said, “and safety plays a key role in getting and keeping kids in the game.”
Leaders in health and medicine, renowned scientists, representatives of national sport organizations and professional athletes attended the summit and made commitments for concussion safety research and education.
The NCAA and the Department of Defense have committed $30 million for concussion education and the most comprehensive concussion study ever, involving up to 37,000 college athletes.
The NFL committed $25 million in new funding over the next three years for strategies such as the creation of health and safety forums for parents and more trainers at high school games. Additionally, the NFL dedicated $16 million of its previous donation to research of chronic effects of repetitive concussions.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology invested $5 million over the next five years for development of material that can provide better protection against head injuries.
According to the White House website, President Barack Obama began by acknowledging the relationship between sports and Americans. “We’re competitive. We’re driven,” he said. In addition, the president said sports teach people teamwork, hard work and ways to excel in life.
A panel discussion moderated by NFL Sportscaster Pam Oliver followed. Panelists included Gen. Raymond Odierno; LaVar Arrington, a former professional football player; and leading scientists. They discussed science, the importance of safety from a military perspective and personal stories.
Spengler believes the summit will drive further research and outreach on injury prevention in youth sports.