By Ken Reed
Americans love football. Americans — at least most of them these days — also know that football is dangerous to the human brain.
Because of those two facts, businesses understand that if they can create a helmet that actually protects the brain from repetitive head trauma they will have struck the mother lode.
Some of the smartest and richest people in the country, including Bill Gates, are trying to find the magical football helmet that will eliminate, or dramatically reduce, concussion risk and long-term brain damage. The problem is, nobody has figured out how to put a helmet inside the skull to protect a brain that moves around like Jello in a bowl after contact.
“This technology is pretty solid at clearly measuring the forces on the helmet, but they’re not measuring the forces on your brain,” said Geoff Manley, chief of neurosurgery at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital. Manley is also co-director of the Brain and Spinal Injury Center at the University of California-San Francisco. “Just measuring the forces outside the cranium doesn’t give you an accurate picture of what’s going on inside your head.”
Exactly. Protecting the skull from blows to the head doesn’t prevent the whiplash effect that occurs to the brain following head trauma. Using technology in football helmets to measure head impact is not very helpful when trying to determine the short-and-long-term negative effects of head trauma on the brain.
According to a study in the March issue of the Journal of Athletic Training, “head-impact-monitoring systems have limited clinical utility due to error rates, designs, and low specificity in predicting concussive injury.”
Nevertheless, the quest for the magical football helmet continues.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
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.” We discuss overzealous adults in youth sports, the dangers of sport specialization, youth sports entrepreneurs and the profit-at-all-costs mindset, and the growing socio-economic gap in youth sports.
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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.
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.
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.
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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