By Ken Reed
Debra Pyka, a Wisconsin woman is suing Pop Warner, the largest youth football organization in the country. She’s claiming her son’s suicide at age 25 can be traced to playing youth football with Pop Warner.
An autopsy found that Pyka’s son, Joseph Chernach, was suffering from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), the same debilitating brain disease that many NFL players have been found to have suffered from, including Junior Seau and Dave Duerson, both of whom also committed suicide.
According to a story about the lawsuit written by Travis Waldron:
“the complaint, which seeks $5 million in damages, asserts that Pop Warner was negligent because it failed to require athletic trainers at games and practices; that it failed to properly train coaches in injury prevention and concussion treatment; and by failing to educate players and parents about possible long-term brain damage that could result from playing football. It also alleges that the organization was negligent because it did not institute proper concussion management or return to play rules for players suspected of having concussions.”
Concussion-related lawsuits have also been filed recently in Illinois and Mississippi against state and national high school athletics associations.
Depending on how these and other potential lawsuits play out, youth and high school football could be placed on the endangered species lists within the next decade, if for no other reason than the likelihood of rising insurance costs for football. In particular, it simply might not be financially feasible for high schools in lower socioeconomic areas to pay growing insurance premiums for football programs.
“Insurers will be tightening up their own coverage and make sports more expensive,” said Robert Boland, a sports law instructor at New York University. “It could make the sustainability of certain sports a real issue.”
— 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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