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 #17 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking Sports With Legendary New York Times Sports Columnist Robert Lipsyte – We chat about Lipsyte’s amazing career and some of the athletes he covered and got to know well, like Muhammad Ali, as well as his relationships with fellow sports journalists like Bob Costas and Howard Cosell.
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Episode #16 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Andrew Maraniss: Outstanding Author of Books That Focus On the Intersection of Sports, History and Social Justice.
Episode #15 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking Sports Psychology with Dr. Tim Rice. We discuss the growth of sports psychology at all levels, the positive impact that a number of high profile athletes have had by opening up, and the importance of everyone involved in sports caring for the whole athlete, mind and body.
Episode #14 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Making Sense of the Injury Pandemic in Major League Baseball – Gary McCoy is a strength, conditioning and high performance coach who has worked with several Major League Baseball organizations.
Episode #13 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Conversation With Long-Time MLB Exec Dan Evans About What’s Right With Baseball and What Could Be Better – Evans is a former general manager for the Los Angeles Dodgers and is currently a consultant for Go the Distance Baseball, which owns the Field of Dreams movie site.
Episode #12 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Fun Chat With Dan Gutman, Author of the Baseball Card Adventure Series for Kids
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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