By Ken Reed
Former Atlanta Falcons safety Ray Easterling killed himself in April. Late last month his widow, and the rest of us, learned that there were clear signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in his brain, a progressive brain disease linked directly to repetitive blows to the head.
“It was consistent with what my expectations were,” said Dr. Gregory O’Shanick, Easterling’s neurologist. “Without question, the only time you see this is with multiple concussions.”
Mary Ann Easterling had to deal with her husband’s deteriorating condition for years. Ray Easterling, 62 when he shot himself, began suffering from dementia and depression only a decade into his retirement from the NFL.
The autopsy report, while not surprising to Easterling’s wife, was still impactful.
“The extent of the damage to his brain made me very sad,” said Easterline. “It amazed me to think about what he dealt with every day inside his head. It left me a little speechless.”
The NFL is being sued by more than 3,000 retired players, or their relatives, in a class-action lawsuit against the league based on how the NFL has dealt with concussions and head trauma through the years.
That lawsuit, and recent research on brain trauma, has spurred the NFL to make changes in their safety procedures, in particular relating to head trauma. That’s all well and good — especially for today’s players — but it won’t help the thousands of former players who are struggling mightily with the repercussions of having given their bodies and minds to a league that historically has been more interested in wins and profits than the wellbeing of its employees on the field.
— 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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