By Ken Reed
Perhaps you noticed the NFL’s “Forever Football” spots during the Super Bowl. They were short, mushy, feel-good odes to the game. They implied that the American culture would collapse without the great game of football.
In reality, they are part of a carefully crafted public relations campaign designed to provide a buffer against the onslaught of lawsuits and negative publicity that’s increasingly coming the NFL’s way due to a growing mound of research that connects repetitive blows to the head with short and long-term brain damage.
The NFL is also concerned about research showing the number of children playing football has been dropping in recent years.
According to Tom Cove, president of the Sports & Fitness Industry Association, the number of kids ages 6-to-12 years-old participating in football on a regular basis has been dropping around 5% annually for the past three to four years. That doesn’t bode well for the future of football as fears about brain trauma will likely speed up that decline in participation, shrinking the talent pool for college and pro football.
Another issue for the NFL, is the boatload of lawsuits filed by former NFL players claiming the league fraudulently concealed the risk of brain trauma caused by playing pro football.
To counter the negatives tied to the broad issue of brain trauma in football, the NFL’s “Forever Football” campaign has been created as a celebration of football, according to NFL sources.
The NFL is doing what it can in the face of a tough reality: the brain can’t be protected in a violent game like football, unless the game is changed so much that it becomes unrecognizable.
As the New York Giants’ Justin Tuck recently said, “The NFL is going to do what it can to make the game safe — but it’s never going to be a ‘safe’ game.”
That’s the problem, especially now that we have the new brain research.
It’s one thing when we understand the game isn’t safe for knees. It’s a completely different thing when we realize the game isn’t safe for the human brain either.
— 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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