By Ken Reed
Dr. Robert Cantu, one of the nation’s leading researchers on concussions in sports, has written a new book, along with Mark Hyman, called “Concussions and Our Kids.”
It’s a welcome addition because awareness and understanding of concussions and sub-concussive brain trauma is lacking terribly in this country among youth sports parents and coaches. Our nation’s focus is on concussions at the professional level in the NFL and NHL.
Cantu points out that kids are more likely to get a concussion because their heads are a bigger part of their body than an adult’s head is, and because their necks aren’t as strong during their developmental years.
A 2009-10 study of high school athletes found concussions occurred most often in the following sports (in order): football, hockey, boys’ lacrosse, girls’ soccer, girls’ lacrosse, wrestling, boys’ soccer, girls’ basketball, and boys’ basketball.
Cantu says kids shouldn’t play tackle football before the age of 14. He also thinks body checking in hockey and heading in soccer should be banned before the age of 14. Rational arguments all. But the question is why is 14 a magical age? Children’s bodies and brains are still developing through high school. Based on current research, tackle football, body checking in hockey and heading in soccer may not be safe for adults, let alone children between the ages of 14 and 18. Perhaps Cantu didn’t go far enough with his recommendations.
Finally, it’s important to note that football, alone among high school sports, is inherently unsafe for the brain. Football is the one sport which has as a primary objective inflicting physical punishment on one’s opponent. Unlike other sports, you can’t make football significantly safer for the brain without changing the nature of the game (e.g., banning blocking and tackling).
As a country we need to seriously consider whether or not it makes sense for our public high schools — academic centers designed to enhance the brain — to sponsor an activity that research clearly shows is dangerous for young brains.
— 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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