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 #32 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Prolific Author Joe Posnanski Joins the Show – Posnanski is one of America’s best sportswriters and has twice been named the best sports columnist in America by the Associated Press Sports Editors. We chat about his new book, “Why We Love Baseball,” his new Substack newsletter called Joe Blogs, and we cover topics including how baseball treats its fans, MLB’s numerous rule changes this past season, how the sport can become more fan-friendly, the greatness of Negro Leagues champion Buck O’Neil, and much more.
Follow on Facebook: @SportsForumPodcast
Episode #31 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Foul Ball Safety Is Still an Important Issue at Ballparks – Our guests are Jordan Skopp, founder of FoulBallSafety.com and Greg Wilkowski, a Chicago based attorney. We discuss the historical problem of foul balls injuring fans and why some teams are still hesitant to put up protective netting in some minor league and college baseball parks.
Episode #30 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The State of College Athletics with Dr. David Ridpath: Problems and Potential Solutions – Ridpath is a sports administration professor at Ohio University and a member of The Drake Group, a college sports reform think tank.
Episode #29 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Honorable Tom McMillen Visits League of Fans’ Sports Forum – McMillen is a former All-American basketball player, Olympian, Rhodes Scholar and U.S. Congressman. We discuss the state of college athletics today.
Episode #28 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Chat With Mano Watsa, a Leading Basketball and Life Educator – Watsa is President of PGC Basketball, the largest education basketball camp in the world. We discuss problems in youth sports today.
Episode #27 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Kids’ Sports: How We Can Take Back the Game and Restore Quality Family Time In the Process – Linda Flanagan is author of “Take Back the Game: How Money and Mania Are Ruining Kids’ Sports and Why It Matters.” We discuss how commercialized and professionalized youth sports are hurting kids and their families.
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.
- Reed Appears on Ralph Nader Radio Hour League of Fans’ sports policy director, Ken Reed, Ralph Nader and the New York Times’ Tyler Kepner discussed a variety of sports issues on Nader’s radio show as well as Reed’s updated book, How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan. Reed's book was released in paperback in February, and has a new introduction and several updated sections.
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.
Vanderbilt Sport & Society - On The Ball with Andrew Maraniss with guest Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director for League of Fans and author of How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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Ken Reed’s Author Page on Amazon