By Ken Reed
T.J. Abraham worked hard at football while an offensive lineman at Duquense University. He worked so hard that he got his “bell rung” upwards of 70 times.
After his football career ended, he worked hard at being an obstetrics & gynecology doctor, sometimes putting in 100-hour work weeks.
Today, the now 42-year-old is retired because his brain doesn’t work properly. His official diagnosis is neurodegenerative dementia but his doctors in Boston, Philadelphia and California believe it is very likely he is suffering from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), the degenerative brain disease linked to repetitive trauma to the head. (The average college football player experiences 800-1,000 blows to the head during a single season, according to Boston University’s CTE center.) CTE can only be officially confirmed via autopsy.
There’s no cure for Abraham. His condition (temper tantrums, memory loss, judgment lapses, etc.) is only going to worsen. Along with dealing with the pain of knowing he will gradually continue to deteriorate physically and mentally, Abraham is having to deal with the emotional pain of knowing he won’t be there for his kids as they grow up.
“My daughter asks me: ‘Daddy, is your brain getting better?’” says Abraham. “And my heart breaks because I know the answer is no.”
Abraham spends some of his time these days fighting to get youth football banned, despite the enjoyment the sport brought him as a player and coach.
“I do not want to see anyone lose what I’ve lost or experience this disease,” wrote Abraham in his testimony for a New York State Assembly hearing on youth football. “I strongly urge you to ban tackle football at the age of 12 and younger in the state of New York.”
Abraham is a young man who can’t remember his wedding or the birth of his daughter. He can no longer help people through his chosen profession. But he’s hoping his efforts to ban youth football will help others avoid his fate.
— 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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