By Ken Reed
Former San Francisco 49er Chris Borland, once dubbed “the most dangerous man in football” because of his decision to retire after his rookie season and to share information with athletes and parents about brain trauma, doesn’t watch football anymore but he has stayed close to the game due to his brave decision to get out.
“I think I’m connected to this issue in some capacity, football and brain damage,” says Borland.
“… I think there’s a lot of misinformation. I’d like to be a voice of reason … The decision I made when I see kids’ heads bang together, I think of (how) your brain sets unfastened in a pool of cerebrospinal fluid. And its gelatinous and its crashing against a hard skull. So that’s kind of an image I always have when football’s on.”
Borland currently works for a variety of mental health and brain disease organizations. He says he misses the camaraderie of football but knows he made a sound decision to leave the game, even though he left more than $2 million in salary behind.
Borland says the growing mound of research on football and brain trauma has convinced him that the game of football is inherently dangerous and that there’s just so much we can do as a society to make it safer.
“One thing that’s important to understand is that it’s believed that the pathology of CTE doesn’t have to do with concussion so much as it has to do with the accumulation of subconcussive hits,” says Borland. “So every hit matters. If you’re subject to 800 or 1200 of these every year it accumulates.”
That’s why he prefers the term “repetitive brain trauma” instead of concussion when talking about CTE.
“It’s like erosion,” says Borland.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
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.” We discuss overzealous adults in youth sports, the dangers of sport specialization, youth sports entrepreneurs and the profit-at-all-costs mindset, and the growing socio-economic gap in youth sports.
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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.
Episode #22 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Rethinking Sports Fandom with Author Craig Calcaterra – We discuss Calcaterra’s new book “Rethinking Fandom: How to Beat the Sports-Industrial Complex at Its Own Game” and explore new ways to be a fan.
Episode #21 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Chatting About a Broken Game With Baseball Writer Pedro Moura – Moura is a national baseball writer for Fox Sports. We discuss how and why the game of baseball is broken, what factors caused it, and offer a few thoughts on how to “fix” a great game.
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.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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