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 #30 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The State of College Athletics with Dr. David Ridpath: Problems and Potential Solutions – Ridpath is a sports administration professor at Ohio University and a long-time member of The Drake Group, a college sports reform think tank.
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Episode #29 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Honorable Tom McMillen Visits League of Fans’ Sports Forum – McMillen is a former All-American basketball player, Olympian, Rhodes Scholar and U.S. Congressman. We discuss the state of college athletics today.
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. We discuss problems in youth sports today.
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.
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.
- Reed Appears on Ralph Nader Radio Hour League of Fans’ sports policy director, Ken Reed, Ralph Nader and the New York Times’ Tyler Kepner discussed a variety of sports issues on Nader’s radio show as well as Reed’s updated book, How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan. Reed's book was released in paperback in February, and has a new introduction and several updated sections.
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