By Ken Reed
Lost in all the trades and free agent signings of baseball’s offseason — often called the Hot Stove League — was a significant development: Major League Baseball’s rules committee voted last month to ban home-plate collisions.
For most of MLB’s history, it has been a mark of manhood for catchers to block home plate, and runners to bowl over said catchers, on close plays at home. However, it apparently has finally become clear to all the macho men in baseball that the excitement of a home plate collision isn’t worth the risk of injury, some of which — including concussions — can be career threatening or ending.
Why blocking the plate was never considered obstruction of the base path I’ll never know, but I digress….
According to New York Mets general manager Sandy Alderson, speaking for the rules committee, the idea behind the vote was to make the game safer without changing its essence.
Hey, there’s an idea for NHL commissioner Gary Bettman: Gary, you can ban fighting in the NHL without changing the essence of the game. In fact, you can enhance the essence of the game!
“Ultimately what we want to do is change the culture of acceptance that these plays are ordinary and routine and an accepted part of the game, that the risks and individual risks, the costs associated in terms of health and injury, just no longer warrant the status quo,” said Alderson.
The rule change still needs to be formally approved by owners and the players union but that approval is expected with little resistance.
Basically, plays at home plate will now be treated just like plays at second and third base. The runner is entitled to a lane to home plate and the catcher faces an obstruction penalty if it isn’t given to him. The catcher might also get a fine or ejection based on the specifics of the play. The same holds true for the runner if it’s determined that he had a clear path to the plate but chooses to run into the catcher instead.
The lesson here for all sports, including football, hockey, soccer, and basketball, is to look for rule changes that make the game safer without changing the game’s essence.
Based on what we know today about brain trauma and concussions, there’s no other choice.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #28 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Chat With Mano Watsa, a Leading Basketball and Life Educator – Watsa is President of PGC Basketball, the largest education basketball camp in the world, with over 150 camps in 30+ U.S. states and Canada. We discuss problems in youth sports today, including single sport specialization, the growing gap between the “haves” and “have-nots,” the high drop-out rate in competitive sports, and the growing mental health challenges young athletes are dealing with today.
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Episode #27 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Kids’ Sports: How We Can Take Back the Game and Restore Quality Family Time In the Process – Linda Flanagan is author of “Take Back the Game: How Money and Mania Are Ruining Kids’ Sports and Why It Matters.” We discuss how commercialized and professionalized youth sports are hurting kids and their families.
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.”
Episode #25 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Physical Education Should Be a Critical Component of K-12 School Design – Michael Horn is co-founder of the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation.
Episode #24 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Mental Health and Athletes: Ending the Stigma – Nathan Braaten and Taylor Ricci are the founders of Dam Worth It, a non-profit created to end the stigma around mental health at colleges and universities through sport, storytelling, and community creation.
Episode #23 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Olympian Benita Fitzgerald Mosley Talks Title IX, Youth Sports and the Olympics.
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.
Vanderbilt Sport & Society - On The Ball with Andrew Maraniss with guest Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director for League of Fans and author of How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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