By Ken Reed
Kevin Turner, a veteran NFL player, died from the most advanced stage of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a disease linked to repetitive head trauma.
He was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) in 2010 and died earlier this year — from CTE not ALS.
“The severity of Mr. Turner’s CTE was extraordinary and unprecedented for an athlete who died in his 40s,” said Ann McKee of Boston University and the Concussion Legacy Foundation.
“While he had typical cognitive symptoms and problems with impulse control associated with CTE, it also appears that CTE decimated the motor cortex of his brain at a young age, likely leading to ALS symptoms.”
CTE has been diagnosed in 91 of 95 professional football players who donated their brains for CTE research at the VA-BU-CLF Brain Bank and the Concussion Legacy Foundation. The disease can present with Alzheimer’s-like symptoms including dementia, memory loss, mood swings, aggression and depression. Some people theorize that Lou Gehrig himself actually had CTE, not ALS. Gehrig played football at Columbia University and suffered multiple concussions during his football and baseball careers.
While much of the focus regarding brain trauma in football centers on concussions, researchers believe that CTE is a result of repetitive sub-concussive blows to the head, which then result in a buildup of the abnormal protein tau found in CTE.
Turner was convinced playing football was the cause of his neurological problems.
“I was the one telling these parents that it’s a safe game to play. ‘Look at me. I’ve been playing since I was 5,’ and turned out I was wrong,” Turner said in a 2013 interview. “I was just so dead wrong about the hits to the head thing. I feel ignorant now.”
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #10 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: An Issues Discussion With Paul Dolan – Dolan is the Cleveland Indians Owner and CEO. He discusses the use of Native American names and logos by sports teams and the decisions to drop the Chief Wahoo logo and the upcoming change to the team name. Other baseball topics include health and safety, possible MLB rule changes and youth participation in the sport.
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Episode #9 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking Sports Issues With Ralph Nader – Nader is a consumer advocate and was named one of the “100 Most Influential Americans of the 20th Century” by Time magazine. He is the founder of League of Fans.
Episode #8 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Save College Sports From Overcommercialization and Professionalization? – The guest is Dr. David Ridpath, a sports business professor and past president of the Drake Group
Episode #7 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Brain Trauma and CTE Risk in Sports With Dr. Ann McKee – Dr. McKee works in the field of neuropathology and has demonstrated that “mild” repetitive head trauma can provoke chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a devastating neurodegenerative disease.
Episode #6 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Need for Quality Physical Education in Our Schools is Greater Than Ever – The guest is Clayton Ellis, one of our nation’s leading advocates for getting our young people to be more physically active.
Episode #5 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Youth Sports with Positive Coaching Alliance Founder Jim Thompson – Thompson started Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) in 1998 to help create a movement to transform the culture of youth sports from “win-at-all-costs” to a positive, character-building experience.
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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