By Ken Reed
On Monday, the NHL announced that it wouldn’t allow its players to participate in the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea. League owners and executives said the reason is they didn’t want their regular season disrupted.
“The league isn’t anti-Olympics,” N.H.L. Commissioner Gary Bettman said. “We’ve been to five of them. The problem is the clubs are anti-disruption to the season.”
What they apparently don’t see, or at least appreciate, is that the Olympic hockey tournament represents a tremendous opportunity to promote both their sport and their league to a huge international audience, including in China, where the league is trying to make inroads. General sports fans — lots of them — not just hardcore NHL fans, turn into watch Olympic hockey.
Henrik Lundqvist, star goaltender for the New York Rangers, tweeted that the league is wasting “a huge opportunity to market the game at the biggest stage.”
The NHL needs the Olympics more than the Olympics need the NHL. Bettman’s league remains a niche sport, a distant fourth of the four major pro sports leagues in the United States. The NHL and its players would receive significantly more publicity from having its players in the Olympic tournament than it will from continuing to play regular season games during the Olympics.
Following the decision, the NHL may now have a fight with league players on its hands. The National Hockey League Players’ Association followed the league’s announcement with one of its own, saying that players were “extraordinarily disappointed and adamantly disagree” with the league’s decision. Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin has already said he plans to represent Russia at the Pyeongchang Games no matter what the N.H.L. might decide.
The players certainly seem to have a lot more business savvy than the owners and league executives on this one.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
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Episode #22 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Rethinking Sports Fandom with Author Craig Calcaterra – We discuss Calcaterra’s new book “Rethinking Fandom: How to Beat the Sports-Industrial Complex at Its Own Game” and explore new ways to be a fan in the year 2022.
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Episode #21 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Chatting About a Broken Game With Baseball Writer Pedro Moura – Moura is a national baseball writer for Fox Sports. We discuss how and why the game of baseball is broken, what factors caused it, and offer a few thoughts on how to “fix” a great game.
Episode #20 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Coaching Youth and High School Sports Based On What’s Best for the Athlete’s Holistic Development – We chat with long-time youth, high school and college basketball coach Jim Huber.
Episode #19 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Capturing the Spirit of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League with Anika Orrock – We discuss the hoops AAGPFL women had to jump through to play the game they loved as well as the long-term impact and legacy they have in advancing sports opportunities for girls and women.
Episode #18 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking about the 50th Anniversary of Title IX and the Lia Thomas Controversy with Nancy Hogshead-Makar – Hogshead-Makar is a triple gold medalist in swimming, a civil rights attorney and CEO of Champion Women.
Episode #17 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking Sports With Legendary New York Times Sports Columnist Robert Lipsyte – We chat about Lipsyte’s amazing career and some of the athletes he covered.
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.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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