By Ken Reed
In 1905, President Theodore Roosevelt called university presidents from the college football powers of the day to the White House to address the growing concern among the American public over the dangers of football. The brutal game on campus was injuring — and killing — young men at an alarming rate. Roosevelt loved the game but feared it was on a course to be banned. Ultimately, what’s known today as the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) came out of the meetings, as well as rule changes to make the game safer and the legalization of the forward pass to open up the game more. The New York Times‘ Gregg Easterbrook recently wrote an excellent piece on this subject.
Let’s face it. There’s too much money in football — at both the NFL and college levels — for the powers to be in the game to make any significant changes on their own. But significant change is exactly what’s needed. The evidence that football is extremely dangerous to the human brain has turned from a molehill to a mountain in the past two decades. And it’s not just concussions that are cause for concern but repetitive sub-concussive blows to the head which might lead to a debilitating brain disease called chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).
Nobody but Roosevelt was going to push the football barons to act in 1905, and nobody but President Obama is going to get the football powers to take action today. At stake is the brain health of over 3 million boys currently playing tackle football at the youth level and 1 million plus playing high school football.
While changes definitely need to occur at the college and NFL levels, the societal focus now needs to be on our young people who are playing football at the youth and high school levels.
As Easterbrook writes, “In an education-based society, having millions of young people spending ever more time bashing one another’s heads can’t be good.”
— 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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