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 #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.
Follow on Facebook: @SportsForumPodcast
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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