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
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #17 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking Sports With Legendary New York Times Sports Columnist Robert Lipsyte – We chat about Lipsyte’s amazing career and some of the athletes he covered and got to know well, like Muhammad Ali, as well as his relationships with fellow sports journalists like Bob Costas and Howard Cosell.
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Episode #16 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Andrew Maraniss: Outstanding Author of Books That Focus On the Intersection of Sports, History and Social Justice.
Episode #15 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking Sports Psychology with Dr. Tim Rice. We discuss the growth of sports psychology at all levels, the positive impact that a number of high profile athletes have had by opening up, and the importance of everyone involved in sports caring for the whole athlete, mind and body.
Episode #14 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Making Sense of the Injury Pandemic in Major League Baseball – Gary McCoy is a strength, conditioning and high performance coach who has worked with several Major League Baseball organizations.
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
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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