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 #14 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Making Sense of the Injury Pandemic in Major League Baseball – The guest is Gary McCoy, a strength, conditioning and high performance coach who has worked with several Major League Baseball organizations. Our focus is the injury pandemic in baseball, what’s causing it and how it can be fixed.
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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
Episode #11 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Latest on Brain Trauma, Concussions and CTE with Dr. Chris Nowinski – Nowinski is CEO of the Concussion Legacy Foundation.
Episode #10 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: An Issues Discussion With Paul Dolan – Dolan is the Cleveland Indians Owner and CEO.
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.
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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