HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - While fans celebrate tough tackles in the Super Bowl, football safety is a growing concern. Before the big game, President Barack Obama called for changes to make the sport safer for athletes of all ages.
"For those of us who like to see a big hit and enjoy the rock 'em, sock 'em elements of the game, we're probably gonna be occasionally frustrated," he said in an interview with Scott Pelley of CBS.
Head injuries are making national headlines, especially after the suicide of former NFL star Junior Seau last May. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said changes are being made. He has two daughters, but said if he had a son, he would absolutely let the child play football.
"I'm concerned when they play any sport. The second-highest incidence of concussions is actually in girls' soccer. So what you have to do is make sure that the game is as safe as possible. In the NFL, we are changing the rules, we're making sure the equipment is the best possible equipment," said Goodell.
Out at the Waipio Soccer Complex, some young athletes are wearing head gear to help prevent injuries.
"When it's in the air, you can head the ball and it won't hurt your head," explained 8-year-old Avery Libed.
"In addition to it being fashionable for her and her friends, it actually offers a high degree of head protection against ball to head contact, head to head contact, head to ground contact," said Avery's father, Aaron Libed.
There were 486 concussions reported by Hawaii public school athletes in the 2010-2011 school year, but there is also increased awareness about the danger.
"I think there's more awareness, importance, education placed on strength, conditioning and prevention, as opposed to the reaction to an injury," said orthopedic surgeon Elizabeth Ignacio.