By Ken Reed
Talk about warped priorities.
Chicago, in the midst of perhaps the biggest budget crisis in its history, has decided to close 50 of the city’s public schools while spending $100 million of taxpayer money on a new basketball arena for DePaul University, a private institution.
The public school closings will impact about 30,000 students, approximately 90% of them African-American. An upset coalition of parents, teachers and students is fighting back, warning that the closures will lead to overcrowded classrooms and endanger students forced to walk longer distances to new schools. It might be too late.
“They are making a very massive, radical, and frankly, irreversible experiment here on other people’s children,” says Jesse Starkey, vice president of the Chicago Teachers Union.
Meanwhile, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is busy pushing the new 12,000 seat arena for DePaul, at a location 50 blocks from the DePaul campus. The new sports palace is for a team that’s gone 47-111 the last five years and that had less than 3,000 fans actually in seats at home games last season. And get this: The United Center, home of the NBA’s Chicago Bulls, offered DePaul use of its arena for 10 years, rent free … and DePaul turned it down in order to seek its own arena.
“DePaul likes this Emanuel idea more,” writes Chicago Sun-Times columnist Rick Telander. “And why shouldn’t it? If you’re at the trough, you’re going to waddle over to the feeding spot with the most slop rolling down the flume. In Chicago, this is known as business as usual.”
Long-time stadium and arena consultant Marc Ganis wasn’t any more positive about the Chicago situation.
“It’s lunacy,” said Ganis. “Sheer folly. It makes no economic sense whatsoever.”
Lunacy indeed. Nearly 30,000 disadvantaged students get their schools shut down and now face long walks through less-than-safe neighborhoods to go to school, while fans of a private university’s basketball team stroll to a taxpayer-subsidized arena in a neighborhood where the local residents are protesting the new arena’s arrival.
The entire crazy scenario is based on political decisions that are hard to fathom — even for Chicago, a city well-known for corrupting taxpayer money.
— 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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