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 #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 and got to know well, like Muhammad Ali, as well as his relationships with fellow sports journalists like Bob Costas and Howard Cosell.
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Episode #16 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Andrew Maraniss: Outstanding Author of Books That Focus On the Intersection of Sports, History and Social Justice.
Episode #15 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking Sports Psychology with Dr. Tim Rice. We discuss the growth of sports psychology at all levels, the positive impact that a number of high profile athletes have had by opening up, and the importance of everyone involved in sports caring for the whole athlete, mind and body.
Episode #14 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Making Sense of the Injury Pandemic in Major League Baseball – Gary McCoy is a strength, conditioning and high performance coach who has worked with several Major League Baseball organizations.
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
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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