By Ken Reed
Junior Seau’s suicide has spurred conversations throughout the sports world about whether football can survive in its present form. Andy Staples writes that “given everything we’ve learned in the past few years about the brain damage caused by repeated trauma, the immediate reaction is to point the finger at football … It’s the mounting evidence that repeated shots to the head could be slowly killing football players. Even if it had nothing to do with Seau’s death, football has lost the benefit of the doubt. Every time a far-too-young ex-player dies after suffering some sort of mental distress, football will be the prime suspect.”
A powerful “stop and think” article written recently by economists Tyler Cowen and Kevin Grier entitled, “What Would the End of Football Look Like?” paints a death scenario for football that isn’t so far-fetched.
According to Cowen and Grier, pre-collegiate football is already sustaining 90,000 or more concussions each year.
“If ex-players start winning judgments, insurance companies might cease to insure college and high schools against football-related lawsuits,” wrote Cowen and Grier.
Various reputable observers and analysts are predicting the end of football as we know it anywhere within the next 5-20 years. The demise will likely start with high school football. As the evidence continues to pile up on the short-and-long-term damage resulting from concussions — along with sub-concussive brain trauma — a MADD-like group of parents could very well form calling for the end of football — as they pull their children from the sport. Other parents would likely follow their lead. They will raise the question, “Why should educational institutions sponsor an activity that turns young brains to mush?” But the big blow to high school football will most likely be of financial origin: insurance companies saying “No more!” to high school football.
“This slow death march could easily take 10 to 15 years,” continued Cowen and Grier. “Imagine the timeline. A couple more college players — or worse, high schoolers — commit suicide with autopsies showing CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy). A jury makes a huge award of $20 million to a family … Soon high schools decide it isn’t worth it.”
Don’t think a scenario in which football is marginalized is possible? Ask your grandfather about the time when boxing was second in popularity to only baseball in this country …
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
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.
Follow on Facebook: @SportsForumPodcast
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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