By Ken Reed
Another college football player has died. And it was another preventable death.
Following an Associated Press investigation, we now know that Garden City Community College (KS) football player Braedon Bradforth died from exertional heatstroke last August after running 36 50-yard sprints in afternoon heat and humidity, passing out, and not getting the proper treatment promptly.
Following the practice in question, Bradforth was struggling as he tried to leave the field. Assistant coach Caleb Young told him, “Hey, you’re good. Let’s go.” Teammates shortly thereafter found Bradforth passed out outside his dorm, “making a stressful moan.”
Instead of calling paramedics, Young decided to call the team’s head coach, Jeff Sims, for instructions on how to proceed with Bradforth. Sims, instead of calling paramedics, called athletic trainer T.J. Horton. Horton then arrived on the scene and instead of calling paramedics immediately spent time trying to revive Bradforth. As Bradforth’s condition worsened, Horton finally made a call to paramedics.
During this time period, Bradforth’s teammates could clearly see Bradforth had overheated and were pouring water on him in an attempt to cool him off. By the time Horton finally called paramedics, 25 minutes had passed since Bradforth was first found passed out by some of his teammates. Bradforth was declared dead that evening.
E. Randy Eichner, a former team physician and professor emeritus of medicine at the University of Oklahoma has researched the deaths of football players for 30 years. He believes Bradforth’s death is one of the most egregious he has reviewed during his career.
“They did a lot wrong,” said Eichner. He believes that had Bradforth been put in a tub of ice water when he got off the field, he would’ve walked home in good health and played the next day.
By all indications, the Garden City Community College football coaches were both sadistic and stupid on this day. First, by running an over-the-top practice in the August afternoon heat and humidity of Kansas. (It sounds like a stereotypical early season football practice when coaches try to make “real men” out of the young athletes under their charge.) Second, by not immediately icing Bradforth down, and then wasting 25 precious minutes before calling paramedics.
“The whole way that they handled this is wrong and we need to change this,” said Joanne Atkins-Ingram, Bradforth’s mom.
That’s true but the change needs to come not just at Garden City Community College but across the entire football culture in this country.
Braedon Bradforth is dead and he shouldn’t be. The same goes for University of Maryland football player Jordan McNair and Minnesota Vikings football player Korey Stringer before him. McNair and Stringer died in similar circumstances to Bradforth.
Let’s hope football coaches around the country — and the administrators that supervise them — learn from Bradforth’s death and change their coaching styles and injury protocols.
But given our sad history with these senseless tragedies, I’m not holding my breath.
— 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.
Order from Amazon
Order from Amazon
Order from Amazon
Ken Reed’s Author Page on Amazon