By Ken Reed
Unfortunately, as the mound of research on sports concussions continues to grow, athletes and parents are being forced to consider the likelihood of concussions when deciding which sports to participate in.
Concussions have been called the “silent epidemic in youth sports” and sportswriter Bill Simmons says concussions are “the single most important issue in sports today.”
The awareness of the potential dangers of brain trauma — in the short-and-long-term — has effected sports participation rates. For example, the number of kids playing Pop Warner football has dropped 10% since 2010.
If the issue was solely concussions, that would be one thing. But it’s not. Also, of significant concern, is repetitive sub-concussive trauma, i.e., relatively minor hits to the head (e.g., heading in soccer and linemen banging heads at the line of scrimmage in football) that add up over time and can lead to cognitive impairment.
Many parents have said they keep their children in sports like football, hockey and soccer because of the life lessons they learn. But those same life lessons can be learned in other sports with much lower rates of concussion. For example, let’s look at football and tennis. Football has the highest rate of concussions of any high school sport (0.77 per 1000 athletic exposures). Exposures are games and practices in which the athlete participates. In tennis, concussions are almost non-existent.
Yet, tennis has many of the advantages of football, hockey and soccer, including teaching things like “perseverance, the value of sportsmanship, how to win and lose with dignity, good judgment, integrity and a sense of honesty.” Also, research shows that compared to other sports, tennis players get better grades (48% have an “A” average) are better behaved in school and more community-minded in terms of volunteer activities. Moreover, the heavy cardio aspect of tennis actually grows brain cells, while brain trauma in other sports, even relatively mild brain trauma, damages brain cells.
There’s no going back to the “good ol’ days” when sports participation decisions were made with little or no consideration of a given sports impact on the brain.
The question today is what are we going to do with all the information at our disposal?
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #10 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: An Issues Discussion With Paul Dolan – Dolan is the Cleveland Indians Owner and CEO. He discusses the use of Native American names and logos by sports teams and the decisions to drop the Chief Wahoo logo and the upcoming change to the team name. Other baseball topics include health and safety, possible MLB rule changes and youth participation in the sport.
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Episode #9 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking Sports Issues With Ralph Nader – Nader is a consumer advocate and was named one of the “100 Most Influential Americans of the 20th Century” by Time magazine. He is the founder of League of Fans.
Episode #8 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Save College Sports From Overcommercialization and Professionalization? – The guest is Dr. David Ridpath, a sports business professor and past president of the Drake Group
Episode #7 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Brain Trauma and CTE Risk in Sports With Dr. Ann McKee – Dr. McKee works in the field of neuropathology and has demonstrated that “mild” repetitive head trauma can provoke chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a devastating neurodegenerative disease.
Episode #6 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Need for Quality Physical Education in Our Schools is Greater Than Ever – The guest is Clayton Ellis, one of our nation’s leading advocates for getting our young people to be more physically active.
Episode #5 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Youth Sports with Positive Coaching Alliance Founder Jim Thompson – Thompson started Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) in 1998 to help create a movement to transform the culture of youth sports from “win-at-all-costs” to a positive, character-building experience.
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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