By Ken Reed
College athletes are young, impressionistic and vulnerable to physical and emotional abuse from coaches and trainers.
Unlike their professional peers, college athletes don’t have a union representing them and looking out for their best interests. They also aren’t paid, apart from their scholarships. Thus, many college athletes — especially those from lower economic backgrounds — fear losing their scholarships if they don’t put up with abusive training regimens.
The power discrepancy situation in college athletics between young athletes and their coaches and trainers is especially dangerous in football, due to the preponderance of injuries in that sport, most notably brain injuries.
The latest example of alleged abuse in college sports involves three former UCLA football players who are suing the university for negligence in the handling of injuries they suffered while playing for the Bruins under head coach Jim Mora, who led the UCLA football program from 2012 to 2017. Each of the lawsuits is seeking damages of $15 million.
Former offensive linemen John Lopez and Poasi Moala claim that UCLA mishandled multiple head injuries they suffered. They claim the head injuries continue to negatively impact them today. Lopez believes his mistreated head injuries might have contributed to a suicide attempt. Former offensive lineman Zach Bateman claims UCLA was negligent in handling severe foot injuries he suffered while playing for the Bruins.
“While the lawsuits involve many of the same facts, each case is distinct in its own way,” says Pamela Tahim Thakur, an attorney representing all three former players. “But what they all have in common is the pattern of brutality and intentional disregard for player health and safety by coach Mora and his staff at UCLA.”
All three lawsuits name Mora, former offensive line coach Adrian Klemm, associate trainer Anthony Venute, the UCLA regents and the NCAA. Lopez’s lawsuit cites three concussions he suffered at UCLA, leading to his medical retirement after the 2015 season. He alleges that UCLA didn’t follow protocols after he suffered his first two concussions. He also says Klemm verbally abused him and other injured players.
— 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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