By Ken Reed
“I beg of you, all parents to please don’t let your children play football until high school,” says former Miami Dolphins star linebacker Nick Buoniconti.
“I made the mistake starting tackle football at 9 years old. Now, CTE has taken my life away.”
Buoniconti has been diagnosed with dementia and probable chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a neurodegenerative disease. (At this point, CTE can only be confirmed via autopsy.) He has pledged to donate his brain to research.
Last week, several former NFL players came together with Boston University researchers to recommend that kids don’t play tackle football until their high school years because of the risk of brain damage in young, still-developing, brains.
The players, including former Oakland Raiders great Phil Villapiano, and former New York Giants All-Pro Harry Carson, teamed with Boston University researchers Dr. Robert Cantu and Dr. Lee Goldstein to talk about the risks of playing football at a young age. They referenced studies that show CTE can start early in life without any signs of concussion.
Dr. Julian Bailes, a neurosurgeon who has long studied football and brain injuries, says high school football players are still at risk. He says the concern over repeated hits to the head is actually magnified in high school.
“The real exposure to larger players, higher velocity hits and hundreds of hits starts in high school,” said Bailes.
Meanwhile, Goldstein emphasized that repetitive sub-concussive hits need to be the focus, not concussions.
“We will never prevent CTE by focusing on concussions. Any meaningful prevention campaign has to focus on preventing all hits to the head, including sub-concussive impacts,” said Goldstein.
As more and more research studies come out on brain trauma and its effects, it’s getting harder and harder to justify children and teenagers playing football at any age.
— 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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