The Jim Tressel story at Ohio State is a sad but not uncommon story of unchecked power, ego-driven actions, a win-at-all-costs (WAAC) mentality, and lack of presidential control in intercollegiate athletics.
In the case of Tressel, you can add hypocrisy. Here’s a guy who made a concerted effort to create an image of a moral icon, yet who’s actions have too often belied that carefully crafted image. He authored books with the titles: “The Winner’s Manual: For the Game of Life” and “Life Promises for Success: Promises From God on Achieving Your Best.”
In actuality, his “winner’s manual” could be summed up in one credo: Do whatever it takes to win (and preserve your image).
This isn’t Tressel’s first slip-up. Under Tressel’s watch, Ohio State has had to deal with NCAA problems surrounding its football program in the past. Tressel also got into trouble with the NCAA while coaching at Youngstown State.
Ohio State’s president, Gordon Gee, provided an indication of the warped priorities on campus when the Tressel allegations first surfaced. When asked if Tressel was in trouble, Gee said, “I’m just hopeful the coach doesn’t dismiss me,” said Gee.
While meant to be funny, Gee’s comment also points to the lack of presidential control at big-time college sports factories. Until intercollegiate athletics are treated as part of the educational mission of the university — and athletes are treated like other students on campus — commercialization and professionalization abuses will continue.
A good place for Gordon Gee to start as he begins to clean-up his football program is the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics’ Statement of Principles.
Mr. Gee should pay especially close attention to principle number two: “The responsibility and authority for the administration of the athletics department, including all basic policies, personnel and finances, are vested in the president.”
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
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, with over 150 camps in 30+ U.S. states and Canada. We discuss problems in youth sports today, including single sport specialization, the growing gap between the “haves” and “have-nots,” the high drop-out rate in competitive sports, and the growing mental health challenges young athletes are dealing with today.
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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.
Episode #26 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Fix Youth Sports? – John O’Sullivan is Founder and CEO of Changing the Game Project and author of “Changing the Game: The Parents Guide to Raising Happy, High Performing Athletes and Giving Youth Sports Back to Our Kids.”
Episode #25 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Physical Education Should Be a Critical Component of K-12 School Design – Michael Horn is co-founder of the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation.
Episode #24 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Mental Health and Athletes: Ending the Stigma – Nathan Braaten and Taylor Ricci are the founders of Dam Worth It, a non-profit created to end the stigma around mental health at colleges and universities through sport, storytelling, and community creation.
Episode #23 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Olympian Benita Fitzgerald Mosley Talks Title IX, Youth Sports and the Olympics.
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.
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