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 #14 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Making Sense of the Injury Pandemic in Major League Baseball – The guest is Gary McCoy, a strength, conditioning and high performance coach who has worked with several Major League Baseball organizations. Our focus is the injury pandemic in baseball, what’s causing it and how it can be fixed.
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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
Episode #11 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Latest on Brain Trauma, Concussions and CTE with Dr. Chris Nowinski – Nowinski is CEO of the Concussion Legacy Foundation.
Episode #10 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: An Issues Discussion With Paul Dolan – Dolan is the Cleveland Indians Owner and CEO.
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.
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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