By Ken Reed
Flag football is the fastest growing sport in the United States, according to a recent survey conducted by USA Football. From 2014 to 2015, flag football participation grew by 8.7%, for children ages six to 14. One youth sports organization, i9 Sports has seen a 46% growth in participation for its flag football program over the past five years.
“Due to concussion concerns, flag football has quickly gained popularity among parents, coaches, and league officials in both youth and high school football leagues across the country,” said Brian Sanders, president and chief executive officer of i9 Sports, a youth sports organization that focuses on safety and concussion awareness.
“This shift speaks volumes and proves that parents are seeing the benefits of flag versus tackle, and I think it’s a movement that we should continue fueling. Flag football is a great alternative to tackle football, especially for families that want to enjoy the benefits of involving their kids in one of America’s favorite sports without the same risk of injury.”
To date, when it comes to brain injuries in football, the nation’s focus has been on the NFL and its 1700+ players. But that focus should be flipped to the more than 4 million children and teenagers playing tackle football at the youth and high school levels in this country. This is especially true when you consider that according to the Brain Injury Research Institute, 20 percent of this country’s high school football players suffer brain injuries in any given season.
“People are understanding the research and making the appropriate moves,” said Chris Nowinski, cofounder of the Concussion Legacy Foundation. “There is no downside to postponing the introduction to tackle football.
Some communities, such as Tega City, South Carolina, are eliminating the tackle football option for youth players.
“I asked myself a question,” said Joey Blethen, a former high school player and football coach and now the parks and recreation director for Tega City. “Could I live with myself if a participant in our tackle football program were to become seriously injured, paralyzed, or even worse?”
— 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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