By Ken Reed
One of the toughest sports scenes I’ve witnessed in recent years came about last football season when the Carolina Panthers’ Luke Kuechly took a blow to his head and suffered his second concussion in two years. TV cameras captured Kuechly sobbing uncontrollably as he tried to corral his emotions following the brain injury.
Many observers were talking at the time about whether or not Kuechly should continue playing football and risking further brain damage.
Well, he came back for another NFL season this year and recently suffered his third concussion in three seasons during the Panthers’ 28-23 loss to Philadelphia. Some people actually believe Kuechly has had more than three concussions over the past three years.
At any rate, a recent Sports Illustrated article has called Kuechly, “a poster child for the NFL’s concussion problem.”
“If Luke Kuechly has in fact suffered a concussion, then a third in three years puts him into a precarious situation,” said Dr. Kevin Guskiewicz, a neuroscientist at the University of North Carolina.
“What the research has taught us is that once you have had three concussions, especially over a relatively short period of time, you are at risk for a slower recovery and an increased risk for subsequent concussions.”
Research at UNC has also revealed that football players with three or more concussions are at an increased risk for depression and mild cognitive impairment later in life.
Then, of course, there’s the elephant in football locker rooms across the country: CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy), a terrible degenerative brain disease associated with repetitive blows to the head.
“The big elephant in the room that people don’t seem to deal with is, do those increased hits mean that he’s at increased risk for later-life problems like CTE?” asked Dr. Robert Stern, a neuroscientist and the Director of Clinical Research for Boston University’s Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) Center.
“And concussions themselves are not really the big issue when it comes to CTE. It’s really the overall exposure to repetitive impacts, the subconcussive trauma. We don’t think the number of concussions, per se—which are symptomatic mild brain injuries—are the big issues. It’s the repetitive issue of getting hit over and over and over and over again without the rest and recovery of someone who has a diagnosed concussion.”
Kuechly obviously loves the game of football. And he’s very good at it, winning the 2013 Defensive Player of the Year award.
But it’s extremely hard to watch him repeatedly do damage to his brain on the football field … especially when one considers the potential long-term anguish — to himself and those that love him — he’s voluntarily subjecting himself to.
— 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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