When it comes to high school sports these days we’re increasingly in an era of “haves and have-nots.” Many states have open enrollment, allowing athletes to transfer to sports powerhouses without penalty. Both public and private schools are being accused of illegal recruiting across the nation. Economic disparity and other factors have resulted in some schools having sophisticated feeder programs while others struggle to get enough kids out to field varsity and junior varsity teams. As a result, competitive imbalance has become a major problem in high school sports.
Traditionally, high school sports divisions have been based on school enrollment. Schools with similar enrollments compete against each other. However, due to a variety of factors, including those cited above, enrollment numbers no longer are enough to determine fair competitive divisions in high school sports. What’s needed is a power ranking system that would allow teams ranked in the bottom of a division for a set period, say three years, to move down a division if they so choose.
Learning how to lose and face adversity is one of the lessons athletics can provide. But getting trampled in virtually every game you play during a season isn’t positive on any level. It’s even worse when a team loses 90 percent of its games over a three-to-five-year period. Perpetual losing leads to unnecessary frustration on the part of everyone involved and a depressing environment that permeates the school and local community.
So, how would this proposed new system work exactly? As an example, if a school finishes in the bottom five of the power rankings (based on win-loss records, margin of victory/defeat, strength of schedule, etc.) within their division for three consecutive seasons, they would be given the option to drop down a division for the following season.
The essence of athletic competition is fair play and testing yourself against those with similar abilities. This proposal would bring us closer to those ideals.
— 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