By Ken Reed
Beginning tomorrow night (Feb. 27), HBO’s Real Sports begins airing a feature story on the “alarming concussion crisis” in hockey. It will focus on how the NHL, in general, and commissioner Gary Bettman, in particular, are ignoring the issue.
But it will also talk about how hockey can do a great deal — fairly simply — to fix the problem … unlike football, in which blows to the head are simply an inherent part of the game.
Here’s an excerpt from the show featuring HBO’s David Scott and hockey legend and six-time Stanley Cup winner Ken Dryden talking about the brain trauma problem in the league:
KEN DRYDEN: “This doesn’t have to be the way it is.”
DAVID SCOTT: “What is the action the NHL has failed so far to take that gives all of hockey a way out of this?”
KEN DRYDEN: “No hits to the head, no excuses. It’s not whether it’s intentional or accidental. No. Forget about all of these artificial distinctions. They do not matter. The only thing that matters is the player got a blow to the head.”
DAVID SCOTT: “Period.”
KEN DRYDEN: “Period. And the worse the blow, the more severe the penalty.”
Dryden has an excellent new book out called, Game Change: The Life and Death of Steve Montador and the Future of Hockey. It’s a great look at the brain issue in hockey through the life and death of hockey player Steve Montador.
Near the end, Dryden outlines a fairly simple solution to hockey’s problem:
“First, Gary Bettman and the league need to recognize that the problem of brain injuries comes from the way we play. And how we play in the future is not inevitable. … Two small changes — no hits to the head; no finishing your check — and one process: actions of a dimension consistent with the dimension of the problem; actions to achieve, not just do; actions that Gary Bettman can implement easily. Actions that leave no reason not to. …
“And if this isn’t enough to dramatically reduce brain injuries in hockey, then you do what any serious person does when facing a serious problem. You do more.”
Dryden clearly loves hockey. His love comes through in his latest book. He’s also written two of the best books ever written about hockey: The Game, and Home Game.
He’s a wise and thoughtful man and he should be listened to — by Bettman, and anyone who cares about the future of this sport.
— 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.
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Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
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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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