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 #32 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Prolific Author Joe Posnanski Joins the Show – Posnanski is one of America’s best sportswriters and has twice been named the best sports columnist in America by the Associated Press Sports Editors. We chat about his new book, “Why We Love Baseball,” his new Substack newsletter called Joe Blogs, and we cover topics including how baseball treats its fans, MLB’s numerous rule changes this past season, how the sport can become more fan-friendly, the greatness of Negro Leagues champion Buck O’Neil, and much more.
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Episode #31 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Foul Ball Safety Is Still an Important Issue at Ballparks – Our guests are Jordan Skopp, founder of FoulBallSafety.com and Greg Wilkowski, a Chicago based attorney. We discuss the historical problem of foul balls injuring fans and why some teams are still hesitant to put up protective netting in some minor league and college baseball parks.
Episode #30 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The State of College Athletics with Dr. David Ridpath: Problems and Potential Solutions – Ridpath is a sports administration professor at Ohio University and a member of The Drake Group, a college sports reform think tank.
Episode #29 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Honorable Tom McMillen Visits League of Fans’ Sports Forum – McMillen is a former All-American basketball player, Olympian, Rhodes Scholar and U.S. Congressman. We discuss the state of college athletics today.
Episode #28 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Chat With Mano Watsa, a Leading Basketball and Life Educator – Watsa is President of PGC Basketball, the largest education basketball camp in the world. We discuss problems in youth sports today.
Episode #27 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Kids’ Sports: How We Can Take Back the Game and Restore Quality Family Time In the Process – Linda Flanagan is author of “Take Back the Game: How Money and Mania Are Ruining Kids’ Sports and Why It Matters.” We discuss how commercialized and professionalized youth sports are hurting kids and their families.
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.
- Reed Appears on Ralph Nader Radio Hour League of Fans’ sports policy director, Ken Reed, Ralph Nader and the New York Times’ Tyler Kepner discussed a variety of sports issues on Nader’s radio show as well as Reed’s updated book, How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan. Reed's book was released in paperback in February, and has a new introduction and several updated sections.
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.
Vanderbilt Sport & Society - On The Ball with Andrew Maraniss with guest Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director for League of Fans and author of How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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Ken Reed’s Author Page on Amazon