By Ken Reed
I’m on record as saying that high school football will be history ten years from now.
For one, there will be a growing backlash against school-sponsored football from mad mothers (and fathers). It will be kind of a Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) phenomenon. Parents won’t want their children’s brain health put at risk unnecessarily and they’ll let school board members and administrators know it.
But that won’t be what ultimately kills high school football. What’s going to get high school football is the insurance companies jacking up their premiums for high school football due to a major brain trauma lawsuit or two — or three. It’s basically going to become way too expensive for the average school district to continue sponsoring an activity that a growing mound of research shows is extremely dangerous to the human brain. After all, the purpose of high school is to enhance the brain, not endanger it.
High school-aged football won’t die, however. It will just move from high schools to private clubs. There will always be fathers (and mothers) who believe the positives of football outweigh the negatives for their sons. But what I don’t understand is the reason I hear most often as to why parents keep their sons in organized tackle football. They say the game teaches valuable life lessons and learning those lessons is worth the injury risk, including brain injuries.
While doing a Google search recently, I came across a Yahoo! Sports column by Carl West and he perfectly captured the popular argument for football in schools — in this case college football, “Defenders of college football argue that despite its violent nature the game can be used to teach life lessons. It promotes leadership skills, team work, critical thinking, and physical fitness.”
I have no doubt that football can deliver those benefits in some — if not most — cases.
My question would be, why do you have to get your head bashed in to learn those lessons? There are plenty of other sports that can deliver those goods … and they’re a lot safer for the brain.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
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 in the year 2022.
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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.
Episode #20 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Coaching Youth and High School Sports Based On What’s Best for the Athlete’s Holistic Development – We chat with long-time youth, high school and college basketball coach Jim Huber.
Episode #19 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Capturing the Spirit of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League with Anika Orrock – We discuss the hoops AAGPFL women had to jump through to play the game they loved as well as the long-term impact and legacy they have in advancing sports opportunities for girls and women.
Episode #18 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking about the 50th Anniversary of Title IX and the Lia Thomas Controversy with Nancy Hogshead-Makar – Hogshead-Makar is a triple gold medalist in swimming, a civil rights attorney and CEO of Champion Women.
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.
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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