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 #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.” We discuss overzealous adults in youth sports, the dangers of sport specialization, youth sports entrepreneurs and the profit-at-all-costs mindset, and the growing socio-economic gap in youth sports.
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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.
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.
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.
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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