By Ken Reed
No more tackling during football practice — at least not in the Ivy League.
Starting this upcoming football season, Ivy League teams will not be allowed to tackle during practices. It is a move to reduce injuries, most notably concussions.
“We know the damage major collisions, or even a lot of minor ones, can do to the brain,” wrote journalist/professor John U. Bacon about the Ivy’s decision. “We’ve seen the studies, looked at the scans, and heard the horror stories.”
Critics of the move, say the decision will lead to poor tackling, sloppy football, and more injuries due to the lack of practicing proper tackling techniques.
But there is precedent here.
Legendary John Gagliardi, of Division III St. John’s in Minnesota, eliminated hitting in practice decades ago. He went on to win four national titles, and 489 games, the most of any coach, at any NCAA level. Yes, it was Division III, but his Division III opponents continued to practice tackling in practice. Gagliardi proved you can win in football without practicing tackling. Gagliardi had a lot fewer injuries, which might have contributed to the team’s winning ways.
Ivy League member Dartmouth eliminated tackling in practice back in 2010. They then proceeded to finish third, second and tied for first in the Ivy League the next three years.
“People look at it and say we’re nuts,” said Dartmouth coach Buddy Teevens in an interview with The New York Times. “But it’s kept my guys healthy. It hasn’t hurt our level of play. It’s actually made us a better team.”
The Ivy League, known for its brain power, has made a very smart decision. Other college conferences would be smart to follow suit. The same holds true for the nation’s high schools. If not, parents will continue to pull their kids from the sport.
As Bacon wrote, “If football wants to avoid becoming a guilty pleasure, like boxing, it has to do something, and now.”
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
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, and has a long involvement with the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sport (now called the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition). We discuss the state of college athletics today, given the pressures of NIL, the transfer portal, sports gambling and huge media contracts. McMillen then provides great perspective on the poor state of physical fitness our young people are experiencing today.
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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.
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.
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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