League of Fans Announces Campaign to Promote Humanistic Coaching Education Programs
Ralph Nader announced today that his League of Fans project is beginning a campaign calling for coaching education programs that promote humanistic coaching styles as an antidote to today’s autocratic coaching norm — which continues to predominate at all levels of sports. The announcement came in conjunction with the release of the League of Fans’ third report from its Sports Manifesto. The report is titled, “Sports World Needs More Humanistic Coaches.”
“We’ve been conditioned in this country that coaches – from the pros down to our youth leagues — have to adopt a Vince Lombardi coaching style: treat athletes inhumanely, and motivate them by force and fear,” said Nader. “That notion is archaic and barbaric. Our sports culture needs to evolve from the dark ages and transition to more humanistic coaching styles that enhance the overall sports experience for athletes while still striving to win games.”
Ken Reed, sports policy director for the League of Fans and author of the organization’s Sports Manifesto, said the commonly held belief that coaches need to be the stereotypical no-nonsense, kick ‘em in the butt, drill sergeant type of coach to be successful is a myth.
“The research shows that if you find a task fun you’ll perform better,” says Reed. “Studies link happiness and satisfaction with higher performance. The belief that coaches need to scream at players and treat them in a degrading way to win is not true. Sadly, it’s an ingrained part of our sports culture. If coaches in this country took more of a democratic and humanistic approach to coaching we would have fewer athletes dropping out of sports in their teens and happier, more satisfied athletes at all levels.”
Nader said John Gagliardi, the very successful head football coach at Saint John’s University in Minnesota, should be a model for all coaches, not Vince Lombardi or Bobby Knight.
“John Gagliardi is the winningest coach in college football history and one of the most humane as well,” said Nader. “He doesn’t carry a whistle or yell and scream. He has almost no physical contact in practices during the week, so his players are healthier and ready to play on Saturday. No blocking sleds, no wind sprints. His practices are limited to 90 minutes. Players love coming to practice and almost all of them graduate. He develops his athletes in a holistic, democratic, and humanistic way — and his teams win. He’s a positive example of what’s possible in the world of coaching.”
Reed said the problem of overbearing, sometimes tyrannical, authoritarian coaches is especially troublesome at the youth sports level where a win-at-all-costs (WAAC) mentality hinders the development of the whole child.
“Research has shown that a mastery approach to coaching gets the best out of athletes,” said Jim Thompson, executive director of Positive Coaching Alliance and author of the book, The Power of Double-Goal Coaching: Developing Winners in Sports and Life. “I am very supportive of League of Fans’ effort to eradicate win-at-all-cost coaching, especially for high school and youth athletes.”
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Sports Forum Podcast
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, and has a long involvement with the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sport (now called the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition). We discuss the state of college athletics today, given the pressures of NIL, the transfer portal, sports gambling and huge media contracts. McMillen then provides great perspective on the poor state of physical fitness our young people are experiencing today.
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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.
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.
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