By Ken Reed
Due to factors such as the dramatic decline in physical education classes and intramurals in K-12, and a huge increase in screen time (computers, video games, social media), along with an increase in processed junk food and Super-Size-Me fast food meals, today’s high school and college students are, on a whole, more overweight, obese and physically inactive than their counterparts from decades past.
Most colleges aren’t helping matters. According to a 2013 study, the number of college students with physical education requirements is at an all-time low.
However, a couple colleges are doing something about it.
At League of Fans, we’ve written about Spelman College in Atlanta in the past. They dropped their varsity athletics program in favor of a fitness and nutrition program for all students.
“When we studied this early this year, I was startled to see that we really only had 80 student athletes out of 2,100 students (in varsity athletics), and our program was costing almost $1 million,” said Beverly Daniel Tatum, the college president.
Tatum decided that when it comes to wellness, all students need to be athletes, in terms of becoming more physically active. In addition to dropping varsity athletics, Spelman’s physical education classes moved from a sports focus toward general fitness.
Highlands College in Alabama has taken things a step further. All Highlands College students are required to run a half marathon together (along with some faculty and staff members). If students have medical problems that don’t allow them to run the half-marathon, they are given alternative physical activities to do.
While making all students run a half-marathon might seem a little overbearing on the part of college administrators, the requirement is well-known and communicated in multiple ways to prospective students. Students know what they are getting into when they enroll at Highlands.
The half-marathon is part of a broad-based health and fitness plan for Highlands students. Students have access to excellent gym facilities and a healthy-focused meal service plan. Once a week, everyone participates in an intramural activity of their choice and the school participates in a tough mudder-esque event in the spring.
Highlands students have discovered there are benefits beyond just improved physical health.
“Especially when you’re new, you’re kind of skeptical, because you’re like, ‘Oh my gosh, I can barely run a mile,” Highlands student Heather Archer told Runner’s World, fresh from one of the last sessions of her 6 a.m. Friday morning run group. “But Highlands College has really shown me what it is to be healthy, and when you’re healthy, your mentality is better, your outlook is better.”
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #14 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Making Sense of the Injury Pandemic in Major League Baseball – The guest is Gary McCoy, a strength, conditioning and high performance coach who has worked with several Major League Baseball organizations. Our focus is the injury pandemic in baseball, what’s causing it and how it can be fixed.
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Episode #13 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Conversation With Long-Time MLB Exec Dan Evans About What’s Right With Baseball and What Could Be Better – Evans is a former general manager for the Los Angeles Dodgers and is currently a consultant for Go the Distance Baseball, which owns the Field of Dreams movie site.
Episode #12 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Fun Chat With Dan Gutman, Author of the Baseball Card Adventure Series for Kids
Episode #11 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Latest on Brain Trauma, Concussions and CTE with Dr. Chris Nowinski – Nowinski is CEO of the Concussion Legacy Foundation.
Episode #10 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: An Issues Discussion With Paul Dolan – Dolan is the Cleveland Indians Owner and CEO.
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.
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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