By Ken Reed
Christine Baugh is a lifelong athlete who wants to make sports safer for athletes of all ages. She’s currently a Harvard Ph.D. student working on a doctorate in health policy with a concentration in ethics.
One of Baugh’s focus areas is concussions in sports, especially in youth sports. According to a report from the National Athletic Trainers’ Association, sports-related concussions account for 58% of all emergency department visits for children between eight and 13 years old, a crucial period for brain development.
“In short, what we know today is that there is no positive health outcome associated with brain injuries, such as concussions,” says Baugh.
“The details of how many injuries over what period of time and at what ages lead to what health consequences acutely or in the long-term is, for the most part, unclear. However, there is a growing body of evidence that suggests that it is not only concussions, but also repetitive sub-concussive blows that may lead to changes in the brain.”
Baugh notes that one of the challenges with concussions in sports is that the key stakeholders involved — the people most likely to protect athletes — often downplay symptoms and/or push athletes back into action too quickly. This includes athletic trainers, coaches, parents and teammates.
“Research that Dr. Emily Kroshus (University of Washington) and I have collaborated on has shown that the majority of athletic trainers in college sports medicine groups feel pressured to prematurely return athletes to play following a concussion,” says Baugh. “Similarly, athletes who feel pressure to return to play following a concussion from multiple stakeholders in the athletic environment (e.g., coach, parent, teammates) are more likely to under-report their concussion symptoms.”
This is a dangerous situation. Athletes who receive a second concussion soon after a first (called Second Impact Syndrome) can experience catastrophic outcomes, including death.
Baugh says one potential solution is to develop incentives for athletes that will lead to them taking the necessary steps to maintain or improve their health. Another step would be to ensure that athletic trainers at all levels are empowered with unchallengeable authority to make medical decisions.
— 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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