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 #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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