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 #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.
Follow on Facebook: @SportsForumPodcast
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.
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.
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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