By Ken Reed
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman adamantly denied this week a link between fighting and hits to the head in hockey with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), the brain disease that experts say is caused by blows to the brain.
In a New York Times piece, John Branch reported that in a letter to United States senator Richard Blumenthal, a ranking member of the Senate’s Consumer Protection subcommittee, Bettman “blamed the news media for fanning fear of the long-term effects of head injuries and defended the NHL’s ‘more measured approach,’ to the growing science of concussions.”
If Bettman’s denials regarding the dangers of blows to the head sound similar to the denials of tobacco executives in the 1960’s regarding a link between smoking and lung cancer, you’re spot on.
After independent researchers found “a real association between carcinoma of the lung and smoking” in 1952, American tobacco companies were still denying the danger well over a decade later.
For example, a Philip Morris report in 1964 said, “We don’t accept the idea that there are harmful agents in tobacco.”
CTE has been diagnosed in at least six deceased NHL players. As of late 2015, 87 of 91 former NFL players who had their brains autopsied were found to have had CTE.
Nevertheless, for the meantime anyway, the NHL and Bettman will continue to use the tobacco industry’s playbook when it comes to the league’s concussion and brain disease issue.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
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Episode #18 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking about the 50th Anniversary of Title IX and the Lia Thomas Controversy with Nancy Hogshead-Makar – Hogshead-Makar is a triple gold medalist in swimming, a civil rights attorney and CEO of Champion Women.
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.
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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