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 #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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