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 #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.
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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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