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 #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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