By Ken Reed
Let the debates begin regarding the NCAA’s punitive action against Penn State for the Jerry Sandusky scandal. Too tough? Not tough enough? Should the NCAA even have gotten involved, or was this clearly a matter that should have been left solely to our judicial system?
To me, it was an egregious example of a “lack of institutional control” when it comes to Penn State University’s administrative oversight of its athletics department. And the situation needs to be addressed as such. I think it would’ve been completely appropriate if we saw video of Penn State’s football stadium sitting empty on every single Saturday this coming football season.
The one thing that really stuck out to me when going over the penalties the NCAA handed Penn State today was the figure $60 million. $60 million! That’s the average annual gross revenue for Penn State football. That number speaks to how warped our culture of higher education has become in this country. Colleges (including their athletic departments) operate legally in this country as non-profit educational institutions. They aren’t supposed to be professional sports entertainment enterprises.
The focus the last week has been on whether or not Penn State deserved the “death penalty” or not. The bigger issue is whether or not big-time college athletics, as a whole, deserve the death penalty or not. The pay-for-play scheme that is athletic scholarships needs to be revisited, as does everything associated with the NCAA’s Division I and II levels. If sports are justified at all in our institutions of higher education, it should be in the form of Division III athletics, where athletic scholarships aren’t allowed, and for the most part, sports on campus are kept in their proper perspective.
In 1939, the University of Chicago made the decision to get out of the big-time football business (Chicago was once a member of the Big Ten conference). They long ago determined that academics, not athletics, should be the focus of their institution. Today, Chicago competes at the Division III level.
Today, University presidents and boards of trustees around the country should be seriously considering the University of Chicago’s 1939 decision, not feeling holier-than-thou as they publicly condemn what took place at Penn State the last 15 years or so.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
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, why some teams are still hesitant to put up protective netting in some minor league and college baseball parks, and the fact the vast majority of players are for more protective netting in stadiums.
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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.
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.”
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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