While both the NFL owners and players toss an occasional platitude the fans’ way regarding how much they care, everyone realizes that neither side has spent more than a minute or two thinking about the fans’ position in the ongoing NFL lockout.
Sportswriters, sports talk show hosts, and others lament the fact the fans don’t have anyone representing them during discussions between the owners and players. Fans certainly have a legitimate stake in this fight. Besides the obvious fact that the fans are the NFL’s consumers, and as such the lifeblood of the business, fans/taxpayers have built stadiums — and the infrastructure surrounding the stadiums — all over the league. The majority of NFL stadiums should have the corporate name removed in favor of “Taxpayer Stadium.”
It’s clear the fans should have a voice during this dispute between owners and players. And it’s also clear that publicly-elected government officials should end their silence and get involved in this dispute as well. On public policy matters, citizens depend on their elected officials to represent them. Professional sports in general, and the NFL in particular, wouldn’t exist as we know them today without a variety of public policies that have been set in place over the years. For those that say government shouldn’t have any role in the business of sports, the fact is they already have a huge role in the business of sports.
Sports policy expert Evan Weiner outlines the role of government well in a recent column entitled Fans Don’t Matter in Sports: “By the way, where are the municipal leaders who lead the rush to get stadiums built for NFL owners (and other sports)? President Barack Obama has washed his hands of the NFL lockout as has the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Republican Lamar Smith of Texas. Apparently all elected officials want to stay clear of the NFL lockout despite the fact that the NFL clearly has been built by Congress (the Sports Broadcasting Act of 1961, the 1966 AFL-NFL merger, the 1984 Cable TV bill that allowed cable operators to bundle channels on a basic tier and forced subscribers to pay for all channels on a basic tier — the tier that became the home to sports — whether the subscribers watch sports programming or not, and the 1986 tax code revision which changed the way municipally funded stadiums and arenas were financed and placed the burden of paying off the debt on taxpayers) and helped along by local elected officials.”
Government certainly has a stake in the business known as the National Football League. Where’s the pressure from government officials on the owners and players during this lockout mess? Where are the government officials carrying the “voice of the fan”?
It’s time they come out of hiding.
— Ken Reed, Director & Senior Analyst, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #22 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Rethinking Sports Fandom with Author Craig Calcaterra – We discuss Calcaterra’s new book “Rethinking Fandom: How to Beat the Sports-Industrial Complex at Its Own Game” and explore new ways to be a fan in the year 2022.
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Episode #21 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Chatting About a Broken Game With Baseball Writer Pedro Moura – Moura is a national baseball writer for Fox Sports. We discuss how and why the game of baseball is broken, what factors caused it, and offer a few thoughts on how to “fix” a great game.
Episode #20 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Coaching Youth and High School Sports Based On What’s Best for the Athlete’s Holistic Development – We chat with long-time youth, high school and college basketball coach Jim Huber.
Episode #19 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Capturing the Spirit of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League with Anika Orrock – We discuss the hoops AAGPFL women had to jump through to play the game they loved as well as the long-term impact and legacy they have in advancing sports opportunities for girls and women.
Episode #18 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking about the 50th Anniversary of Title IX and the Lia Thomas Controversy with Nancy Hogshead-Makar – Hogshead-Makar is a triple gold medalist in swimming, a civil rights attorney and CEO of Champion Women.
Episode #17 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking Sports With Legendary New York Times Sports Columnist Robert Lipsyte – We chat about Lipsyte’s amazing career and some of the athletes he covered.
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
- League of Fans Sports Policy Director Ken Reed quoted in Washington Post column titled "What happened to P.E.? It’s losing ground in our push for academic improvement," by Jay Mathews
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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