By Ken Reed
So, former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue ruled in favor of Jonathan Vilma and against current commissioner Roger Goodell in the NFL’s New Orleans Saints Bountygate case. Interesting little side drama. But that’s all the Tagliabue ruling is. In fact, the whole Bountygate case is but a side drama.
Bountygate is an NFL-created PR tactic designed to help demonstrate that the league’s doing all it can to make football safer. Here’s what the NFL is trying to sell us: Football is not inherently evil. If we just clean it up some and put in a few safety measures all those nasty brain trauma stories will go away, fans can get back to cheering the big hits, and we can get back to making obscene money off men running full speed into each other, often leading with their heads.
Patrick Hruby has written a good piece on Bountygate and its strategic use as a distraction by NFL power brokers.
“At its core, Bountygate has never been about Goodell versus Vilma, a proxy war between players and owners, the trampling of due process or even whether Saints defenders actually had a Cash-4-Cart-Offs bounty system,” writes Hruby. “No, Bountygate is and will always be about violence. About the NFL’s ongoing, increasingly strained efforts to make football’s inherent violence and inevitable human wreckage palatable.”
Here’s the inconvenient truth for Goodell and the NFL owners: Football is inherently dangerous, especially to one’s brain. There aren’t enough safety measures that can be implemented — apart from going to flag football — to change that fact.
“Hitting causes brain trauma,” concludes Hruby. “And hitting is the sport, no matter who Goodell fines or suspends, no matter how well intended he, the league’s players or anyone else happens to be. Including the rest of us. A society that has fashioned a de facto national pastime out of increasingly self-evident harm. Never mind just. Is that right?
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #32 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Prolific Author Joe Posnanski Joins the Show – Posnanski is one of America’s best sportswriters and has twice been named the best sports columnist in America by the Associated Press Sports Editors. We chat about his new book, “Why We Love Baseball,” his new Substack newsletter called Joe Blogs, and we cover topics including how baseball treats its fans, MLB’s numerous rule changes this past season, how the sport can become more fan-friendly, the greatness of Negro Leagues champion Buck O’Neil, and much more.
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Episode #31 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Foul Ball Safety Is Still an Important Issue at Ballparks – Our guests are Jordan Skopp, founder of FoulBallSafety.com and Greg Wilkowski, a Chicago based attorney. We discuss the historical problem of foul balls injuring fans and why some teams are still hesitant to put up protective netting in some minor league and college baseball parks.
Episode #30 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The State of College Athletics with Dr. David Ridpath: Problems and Potential Solutions – Ridpath is a sports administration professor at Ohio University and a member of The Drake Group, a college sports reform think tank.
Episode #29 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Honorable Tom McMillen Visits League of Fans’ Sports Forum – McMillen is a former All-American basketball player, Olympian, Rhodes Scholar and U.S. Congressman. We discuss the state of college athletics today.
Episode #28 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Chat With Mano Watsa, a Leading Basketball and Life Educator – Watsa is President of PGC Basketball, the largest education basketball camp in the world. We discuss problems in youth sports today.
Episode #27 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Kids’ Sports: How We Can Take Back the Game and Restore Quality Family Time In the Process – Linda Flanagan is author of “Take Back the Game: How Money and Mania Are Ruining Kids’ Sports and Why It Matters.” We discuss how commercialized and professionalized youth sports are hurting kids and their families.
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.
- Reed Appears on Ralph Nader Radio Hour League of Fans’ sports policy director, Ken Reed, Ralph Nader and the New York Times’ Tyler Kepner discussed a variety of sports issues on Nader’s radio show as well as Reed’s updated book, How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan. Reed's book was released in paperback in February, and has a new introduction and several updated sections.
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.
Vanderbilt Sport & Society - On The Ball with Andrew Maraniss with guest Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director for League of Fans and author of How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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