The recent deaths of NHL enforcers, Wade Belak, Rick Rypien, and Derek Boogaard have raised a lot of questions and concerns. See “Questions Linger Over Recent Deaths of Three NHL Enforcers,” San Jose Mercury News.
What role did concussions, if any, have in their deaths?
Did blows to the head from years of fighting lead to a degenerative brain disease called chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), which can be associated with depression?
Are hockey leagues and organizations doing enough to protect players from brain trauma injuries?
Is there any place for fighting and goon-like behavior in hockey?
Recent stories on concussions in sports have focused on football in general and the NHL in particular. But concussions are a serious issue in hockey and the NHL as well. Hockey superstar Eric Lindross never did return to his all-star level after multiple concussions. For years following a series of concussions, he suffered not only debilitating physical symptoms but life-altering emotional symptoms as well. See “Concussions: The Untold Story,” Macleans. The return to the ice of perhaps the NHL’s best player today, Sidney Crosby, remains uncertain due to post-concussive symptoms.
Hockey is a physical, sometimes violent game. That’s understood. But every safety precaution needs to be taken, especially when it comes to blows to the head. And that brings us to the topic of enforcers, goons if you prefer, whose primary job is to fight. See “The Worst Job in Sports,” Sports Illustrated, It’s a demeaning job, usually left to players without the pure hockey skills to earn a roster spot based on their hockey ability alone. Enforcers generally make teams because of their fighting ability and mentality. In light of the growing mound of research regarding the short-and-long-term effects of concussions in sports, hockey leaders need to seriously consider a complete ban on fighting.
For a more in-depth discussion of the issue of concussions in sports, see the League of Fans’ Sports Manifesto report, “Concussion Research Can’t Be Ignored.”
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, 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