By Ken Reed
I’ve always admired the work of Bryant Gumbel and the crew at HBO that puts together the show Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel. They often do in-depth work on important sports issues of the day. They also will have compelling human interest stories on occasion. The show is blessed with several outstanding journalists in addition to Gumbel.
That said, Real Sports also has segments on a regular basis that I have little interest in, features on obscure sports or unusual sports-related topics.
However, this month’s show (May 2019) is simply excellent. The first segment is an outstanding — and very disturbing — piece on the hundreds of horses that die every year on American race tracks. It also looks at the gruesome practice of sending horses that aren’t fast enough any longer to slaughter. It’s a sickening and despicable business practice that needs to be stopped.
Nearly 10 horses a week, on average, died at American horse tracks last year. That fatality rate is anywhere from 2.5 to 5 times greater than horse tracks in the rest of the world. (See https://nyti.ms/2HOd5bz) A big part of the problem is that in the United States the use of performance-enhancing drugs and painkillers, on a regular basis, has devastating effects on a lot of horses. The use of these drugs is illegal in other countries.
The second feature this month looks at the heartwarming relationship between WNBA star Elena Delle Donne and her sister Lizzie, who has cerebral palsy and was born blind and deaf. The story reveals the deep love between the two sisters and examines why Elena Delle Donne turns down lucrative offers to play professional basketball overseas during the WNBA’s offseason.
Finally, there is a very important segment on the Norwegian youth sports system and how and why it’s the antithesis to the American youth sports system. (See “Norway Gets Youth Sports Right” https://bit.ly/2PKkVXl)
Youth sports in the U.S. are increasingly driven by the almighty dollar — e.g., AAU, club and travel teams, showcase tournaments, personal trainers, etc. Public health, whole child development, physical education, recreation, peer relationships and good old-fashioned fun are low priorities.
In Norway, the contrast with youth sports in America is striking. The focus for kids 12 and under in Norway is having fun and whole child development. What a concept! Scores of games aren’t kept and children aren’t ranked based on ability. High-priced elite travel teams simply don’t exist. After age 12, youngsters can choose to enter more competitive sports situations but it’s their choice. They aren’t forced by adults.
Focusing on having fun doesn’t mean champion athletes aren’t being developed in Norway. Norway, a country of only five million people, won more medals at the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang than any other country.
These three excellent segments make up one outstanding monthly show. I highly recommend you find a way to watch the May 2019 edition of Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel.
— 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.
Follow on Facebook: @SportsForumPodcast
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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