July 16, 2013
Allan H. (Bud) Selig, Commissioner
The Office of the Commissioner of Baseball
245 Park Avenue, 31st Floor
New York, NY 10167
Dear Mr. Selig:
A question: How can you allow a growing number (16 at last count) of your Major League Baseball teams to promote all-you-can-eat tickets at their stadiums while simultaneously claiming “the health and welfare of the country’s youth is a top priority for Major League Baseball?”
A little over two years ago, you made that statement while making a big splash by announcing that Major League Baseball (MLB) was supporting First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! fitness and nutrition campaign to attack childhood obesity.
Since that time, you and the majority of MLB teams have become junk food pushers of the worst kind.
The “all-you-can-eat” deals your teams typically offer include hot dogs, hamburgers, chips, nachos, soda, ice cream, and popcorn. Some of these promotions have the audacity to emphasize the family-friendly atmosphere in these sections.
For example, the Arizona Diamondbacks’ ad copy for these seats of gluttony reads “Family-friendly section features its own private lounge with plenty of space to move around. Conveniently positioned one level below the Sandlot kids area.”
It goes on to say that there are “extra-wide seats with added leg room” in these sections. One can only imagine the extra room would be needed if fans regularly attended games in these sections and consumed vast quantities of junk food while cheering on their D-Backs.
As a whole, ballpark food epitomizes the worst of the Standard American Diet (SAD), which has led to our country’s obesity epidemic.
The grim reality is we’ve never been fatter as a country. More than 65 percent of adults in the United States are either overweight or obese.
That’s sad. But what’s even sadder is our children are on pace to be significantly fatter than we are by the time they reach adulthood. Over the last three decades, the number of overweight adolescents has quadrupled. As a result, children today have a shorter life expectancy than their parents for the first time in 100 years, according to William J. Klish, professor of pediatrics at the Baylor College of Medicine.
“We are in the middle of an epidemic that may have profound health effects for our children,” Klish said. “If society doesn’t act now to implement preventative measures, the increase of obesity will not stop.”
We don’t think Klish had the all-you-can-eat family junk food sections at MLB ballparks in mind when he mentioned “preventative measures.”
Mr. Selig, given your public appearance with Michelle Obama, and your pledge of MLB’s support for her Let’s Move! campaign’s efforts to make better nutrition and increased physical activity a reality for our young people, it would seem you have two choices. One, you could remind your franchise owners of MLB’s support of the Let’s Move! campaign and ask them to stop the all-you-can-eat sections at their stadiums because they are a threat to public health. Or, two, you could sit back and continue to allow these sections to proliferate.
If you choose number two, you risk being viewed as hypocritical, one who professes to care about our children’s welfare but whose actions endanger their health instead.
Ralph Nader, Founder, League of Fans
Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Cc: Michelle Obama
Office of the First Lady
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
Here’s Yahoo! News’ take on the letter to Selig.
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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 #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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