By Ken Reed
In a recent Washington Post commentary, Dr. Robert Cantu, clinical professor of neurology and neurosurgery and co-founder of the CTE Center at the Boston University School of Medicine, and Mark Hyman, professor of sports management at George Washington University, suggested the following Surgeon General’s Warning be placed on all youth football helmets and youth tackle football registration forms:
SURGEON GENERAL’S WARNING: Tackle football is dangerous for children. Children who play tackle football absorb repeated hits to the head. As adults, they’re at higher risk of suffering cognitive deficits as well as behavioral and mood problems.
It’s not a bad idea. When parents sign up their children for football, they are placing them in an activity that has been shown in numerous studies to be very dangerous for the human brain. Adults taking on the neurological risks of football is one thing, but children are being put in harm’s way before they reach the age of legal consent.
Brain trauma, cognitive problems, and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) aren’t just NFL issues. The Boston University CTE Center has published three studies in the last few years all pointing to the same conclusion:
“Adults who played tackle football as children were more likely to deal with emotional and cognitive challenges in later life.”
Most adults in America are now aware of the link between concussions and CTE. But many, if not most, are unaware of the link between repetitive subconcussive blows to the head and a variety of cognitive, behavioral and neurological conditions and diseases, including CTE. In other words, you don’t need to have had multiple concussions to be at risk. CTE has been found in the brains of former college and high school football players, not just NFL players.
While the Boston University CTE Center has discovered CTE in the brains of 110 of 111 former NFL players, the Center has also found CTE in the brains of 48 of 53 former college players. Those college players didn’t go on to play football in the NFL. Moreover, 21% of the 14 brains of former high school football players studied at the Center had evidence of CTE. And those players never played football beyond high school.
Football, not baseball, is the true national pastime when it comes to sports in America. In fact, football is probably better described as our national obsession.
That said, there’s currently enough evidence on the table showing football is dangerous to the human brain — especially the brains of children whose brains are still developing — to have a serious national discussion about whether or not our young people should continue to participate in youth and high school football in this country.
— 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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