By Ken Reed
The United States is often called a sports-crazy country. In reality, we’re a country of crazy sports fans who, for the most part, aren’t sports participants. Moreover, sports fans tend to exercise less than the rest of the population and have riskier dietary habits. A study published in the United States Sports Academy’s The Sports Journal supports this lifestyle profile of the American sports fan.
“Highly identified sports fans had significantly higher health risk behaviors than non-sports fans on a range of health behavior measures, including: higher fat consumption, more fast food consumption, less vegetable consumption, greater consumption of refined as opposed to whole grains, and an increased amount of alcohol consumed on days they chose to drink,” according to the study’s authors, Daniel R. Sweeney and Donna G. Quimby. “Additionally, using height and weight data to calculate Body Mass Index (BMI), highly identified sports fans were found to have a higher BMI.”
Sweeney and Quimby suggest that since sports fans were found to engage in riskier health-related behaviors, they could be a prime target for health policy makers looking to positively impact a large segment of Americans while reducing healthcare costs associated with obesity and other chronic health conditions. They also note an opportunity for pro sports organizations, college athletic departments and individual professional athletes to embark on cause-related marketing campaigns encouraging healthier lifestyles on the part of their fans.
“[P]artnering in programs designed to educate their most devoted followers about strategies towards achieving a healthy lifestyle would serve the dual role of contributing to the overall success of the organization while at the same time positively impacting the health of those in the communities they serve,” concluded Sweeney and Quimby.
This study represents a great opportunity for sports power brokers to be good community citizens by developing strategic cause-related initiatives around these findings.
Promoting healthier, active lifestyles to their fans seems like a no-brainer.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
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, with over 150 camps in 30+ U.S. states and Canada. We discuss problems in youth sports today, including single sport specialization, the growing gap between the “haves” and “have-nots,” the high drop-out rate in competitive sports, and the growing mental health challenges young athletes are dealing with today.
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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.
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.”
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.
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.
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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