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 #28 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Chat With Mano Watsa, a Leading Basketball and Life Educator – Watsa is President of PGC Basketball, the largest education basketball camp in the world, with over 150 camps in 30+ U.S. states and Canada. We discuss problems in youth sports today, including single sport specialization, the growing gap between the “haves” and “have-nots,” the high drop-out rate in competitive sports, and the growing mental health challenges young athletes are dealing with today.
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Episode #27 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Kids’ Sports: How We Can Take Back the Game and Restore Quality Family Time In the Process – Linda Flanagan is author of “Take Back the Game: How Money and Mania Are Ruining Kids’ Sports and Why It Matters.” We discuss how commercialized and professionalized youth sports are hurting kids and their families.
Episode #26 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Fix Youth Sports? – John O’Sullivan is Founder and CEO of Changing the Game Project and author of “Changing the Game: The Parents Guide to Raising Happy, High Performing Athletes and Giving Youth Sports Back to Our Kids.”
Episode #25 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Physical Education Should Be a Critical Component of K-12 School Design – Michael Horn is co-founder of the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation.
Episode #24 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Mental Health and Athletes: Ending the Stigma – Nathan Braaten and Taylor Ricci are the founders of Dam Worth It, a non-profit created to end the stigma around mental health at colleges and universities through sport, storytelling, and community creation.
Episode #23 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Olympian Benita Fitzgerald Mosley Talks Title IX, Youth Sports and the Olympics.
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.
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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Ken Reed’s Author Page on Amazon