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 #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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