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 #10 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: An Issues Discussion With Paul Dolan – Dolan is the Cleveland Indians Owner and CEO. He discusses the use of Native American names and logos by sports teams and the decisions to drop the Chief Wahoo logo and the upcoming change to the team name. Other baseball topics include health and safety, possible MLB rule changes and youth participation in the sport.
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Episode #9 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking Sports Issues With Ralph Nader – Nader is a consumer advocate and was named one of the “100 Most Influential Americans of the 20th Century” by Time magazine. He is the founder of League of Fans.
Episode #8 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Save College Sports From Overcommercialization and Professionalization? – The guest is Dr. David Ridpath, a sports business professor and past president of the Drake Group
Episode #7 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Brain Trauma and CTE Risk in Sports With Dr. Ann McKee – Dr. McKee works in the field of neuropathology and has demonstrated that “mild” repetitive head trauma can provoke chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a devastating neurodegenerative disease.
Episode #6 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Need for Quality Physical Education in Our Schools is Greater Than Ever – The guest is Clayton Ellis, one of our nation’s leading advocates for getting our young people to be more physically active.
Episode #5 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Youth Sports with Positive Coaching Alliance Founder Jim Thompson – Thompson started Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) in 1998 to help create a movement to transform the culture of youth sports from “win-at-all-costs” to a positive, character-building experience.
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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.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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.
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