League of Fans Says Childhood Obesity Epidemic Demands That Schools Shift Focus From Varsity Athletics to Sports and Physical Activity Opportunities for the Entire Student Body
Ralph Nader announced today that his League of Fans organization is beginning a push for more quality physical education and intramural sports programs in the nation’s school system in an effort to combat the increasingly sedentary lifestyles of our nation’s children. The announcement came in conjunction with the release of the League of Fans’ fourth report, Sports for All Students, from its Sports Manifesto.
“It’s mind-boggling that at a time when overweight and obesity levels are up among our young people and physical activity levels are down, our schools are cutting physical education classes and intramural sports programs,” said Nader. “Pressures driven by the No Child Left Behind legislation have led to cutbacks in physical education despite research that shows students receiving daily physical education are not only healthier but perform better academically as well. We need a concerted effort to increase quality, fitness-based daily physical education classes, along with a return to the vibrant intramural sports programs our schools once offered.”
Ken Reed, League of Fans’ sports policy director and author of the organization’s Sports Manifesto, said the country must reexamine its priorities when it comes to varsity athletics, physical education, and intramural sports programs.
“As a country, we need to take another look at our emphasis on varsity athletics in schools,” said Reed. “During a growing childhood obesity epidemic that’s negatively impacting the health of our young people, do we really want to prioritize varsity athletics over physical education and intramural programs that positively impact all students? Varsity sports programs should be a secondary consideration in schools that exist for educational — not sports entertainment — purposes.”
Reed also stressed the importance of the lifetime participation model of sports and physical activity vs. the sports spectator model that is so prevalent in the United States.
“As a whole, we’re one of the worst countries in the world in terms of lifelong sports participation,” said Reed. “A small percentage of us play the games and the rest of us watch. The problem starts early. By the time boys and girls reach the age of 13, most are done with sports participation. Increasing the number of quality physical education and intramural sports programs in our schools would help to effectively address this issue.”
“The need for quality physical education has never been greater in this country,” said Brenda VanLengen, vice chair of the Board of Directors of PE4life, a nonprofit that is dedicated to increasing access to quality physical education. “We can’t afford to lose another generation of children to sedentary lifestyles. Research has shown that fit kids are healthier, and as a result, are likely to have improved learning readiness and behavior. We are excited about League of Fans’ efforts in this area.”
Sports Forum Podcast
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.” We discuss overzealous adults in youth sports, the dangers of sport specialization, youth sports entrepreneurs and the profit-at-all-costs mindset, and the growing socio-economic gap in youth sports.
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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.
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.
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.
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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Ken Reed’s Author Page on Amazon