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 #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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