By Ken Reed

It’s rare when we praise the business practices of the NBA or NFL. Most often, these pro sports leagues develop and implement profit-at-all-costs (PAAC) policies that are repugnant to anyone interested in protecting the best interests of our sports.

But today’s different. Both the NBA and NFL have taken steps in recent days that are positive for both their sports and society in general.

First, the NBA, which has long been the most progressive of our country’s four major professional sports leagues. (Of course, “progressive” is a relative term when comparing the NBA to the NFL, MLB and NHL.)

Yesterday, the NBA decided to move its 2017 All-Star Game out of Charlotte, North Carolina because of a relatively new state law known as HB2, which limits anti-discrimination protections for LGBT citizens. Opponents of the law believe that, in effect, it allows for state-sanctioned discrimination. HB2 has been dubbed the “bathroom law” because it requires transgender people to use the bathroom corresponding to the sex on their birth certificates in public buildings. However, perhaps the most negative aspect of HB2 for anyone interested in social justice is that it excludes sexual orientation and gender identity protections from places of work, hotels, restaurants, etc. And it overrules any local antidiscrimination ordinances in North Carolina.

As the NBA said in a statement:

“While we recognize that the NBA cannot choose the law in every city, state, and country in which we do business, we do not believe we can successfully host our All-Star festivities in Charlotte in the climate created by HB2.”

Bravo NBA and league commissioner Adam Silver.

* * *

On the NFL front, Dr. Elliot Pellman, the rheumatologist – yes, rheumatologist — who oversaw the NFL’s committee on brain injuries despite any expertise in the area of brain trauma, is no longer with the league. He either retired or was nudged out by NFL commissioner Roger Goodall, depending on which report one subscribes to.

For decades, Pellman discounted the dangers of head trauma, concussions and CTE, the brain disease caused by repetitive blows to the head.

A recent USA Today report noted that according to an ESPN Outside the Lines investigation, Pellman led campaigns to discredit the findings of noted scientists for their studies on the effects of concussions. A source with knowledge of the situation told USA Today that Goodall made the decision that Pellman should retire. If it indeed was Goodall’s decision, it was appropriate but long overdue.

In a New York Times piece, Ken Belson wrote that Pellman “was accused by independent researchers of promoting ‘junk science’ and routinely putting N.F.L. players in harm’s way by minimizing the effect of concussions.”

A study last year revealed that of 91 former NFL players who had their brains examined through autopsy procedures 96% had CTE.

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


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