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 #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.
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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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