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
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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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