By Ken Reed
U.S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald said during a sentencing for Jordan Hart, a minor league hockey player who supplied painkillers to former NHL player Derek Boogaard, that both hockey players were victims of organized sports and its lax attitude toward painkillers.
“Mr. Boogaard and Mr. Hart were victims of organized sports, which did not consider the consequences of supplying large quantities of addictive pain medication to their players,” said Buchwald.
Boogaard and Hart were also both victims of a hockey culture that glorified violence, including sanctioned fighting on the ice. Boogaard, an enforcer (read: thug) during his NHL career, was supported by a hockey culture that condoned the allocation of team roster spots to players whose only valuable skill — at the NHL level anyway — was beating the tar out of opponents.
Toward the end of his career, Boogaard knew something was wrong with his mind. He didn’t know what. But he knew he just didn’t feel right. What was happening was that his occupation, hockey enforcer, was slowly damaging his brain, leading to a variety of serious neurological problems. Boogaard had grown fearful about having to fight during hockey games. But he also knew that his teammates, coaches and team management expected it. He knew that if he stopped fighting his career would be over. So, he fought on, until an accidental overdose killed him at age 28.
Boogaard had so many concussions during his playing days that he eventually lost count. An autopsy found that he had been suffering from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a brain disease caused by repeated blows to the head.
Buchwald had it right. Boogaard was a victim of organized sports and its lax attitude toward painkillers. What she didn’t mention is that he was also the victim of hockey’s lax attitude toward fighting and brain trauma.
— 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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