By Ken Reed
Teddy Roosevelt called a group of college leaders to the White House in 1905 and told them to do something about the vicious nature of the game of football, which was resulting in too many deaths on campus. He strongly urged the college presidents and campus sports leaders in attendance to quickly develop measures to make football safer or he would take stronger action.
As a result, an intercollegiate athletics organization — which would soon evolve into the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), was formed. The primary mission of this association was athlete safety. During the following year, enough safety reforms were implemented by this group to satisfy Roosevelt.
Well, today the NCAA is getting a big fat “F” in the area of safety. Most notably, the NCAA lacks standard return-to-play guidelines following suspected brain injuries. In fact, the NCAA’s entire approach to concussions makes the NFL seem enlightened on the issue.
In addition to safety, the NCAA’s other focus area is supposed to be education. According to NCAA literature, the organization’s objective is “to integrate intercollegiate athletics into higher education so that the educational experience of the student athlete is paramount.”
Clearly, the NCAA behemoth is failing in that regard too, most notably at the NCAA Division I level where football and basketball players have more in common with their NFL and NBA peers than they do with the students on their campuses.
Meanwhile, academic fraud remains an ongoing problem in college athletics. In a scathing indictment of the NCAA, Washington Post columnist Sally Jenkins writes:
“The NCAA has exhibited total paralysis in the one case truly in its purview: the broad, years-long academic scandal at North Carolina, in which scores of athletes were kept academically eligible with fake “paper” classes and prearranged grades.”
Instead of protecting the health and welfare of college athletes, along with academic integrity on college campuses, the NCAA is instead being driven by the values of professionalism and commercialization.
As such, argues Jenkins, the NCAA must be dissolved.
There are numerous proposals floating around as to what new structure should replace the NCAA, including one titled “Don’t Reform NCAA – Replace It,” by the Drake Group, a consortium of college professors fighting for academic integrity in college sports.
But whatever structural entity replaces the NCAA, the focus needs to be on the young men and women playing the game, not the desires of the win-at-all-costs and profit-at-all-cost adults who are running the show today.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #32 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Prolific Author Joe Posnanski Joins the Show – Posnanski is one of America’s best sportswriters and has twice been named the best sports columnist in America by the Associated Press Sports Editors. We chat about his new book, “Why We Love Baseball,” his new Substack newsletter called Joe Blogs, and we cover topics including how baseball treats its fans, MLB’s numerous rule changes this past season, how the sport can become more fan-friendly, the greatness of Negro Leagues champion Buck O’Neil, and much more.
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Episode #31 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Foul Ball Safety Is Still an Important Issue at Ballparks – Our guests are Jordan Skopp, founder of FoulBallSafety.com and Greg Wilkowski, a Chicago based attorney. We discuss the historical problem of foul balls injuring fans and why some teams are still hesitant to put up protective netting in some minor league and college baseball parks.
Episode #30 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The State of College Athletics with Dr. David Ridpath: Problems and Potential Solutions – Ridpath is a sports administration professor at Ohio University and a member of The Drake Group, a college sports reform think tank.
Episode #29 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Honorable Tom McMillen Visits League of Fans’ Sports Forum – McMillen is a former All-American basketball player, Olympian, Rhodes Scholar and U.S. Congressman. We discuss the state of college athletics today.
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. We discuss problems in youth sports today.
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.
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.
- Reed Appears on Ralph Nader Radio Hour League of Fans’ sports policy director, Ken Reed, Ralph Nader and the New York Times’ Tyler Kepner discussed a variety of sports issues on Nader’s radio show as well as Reed’s updated book, How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan. Reed's book was released in paperback in February, and has a new introduction and several updated sections.
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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