By Ken Reed
Several good pieces have come out the last couple days about how college athletes are embracing the power they inherently have to help shape college sports moving forward. Pac-12, Big Ten and Mountain West football players have presented their conferences with a list of demands that they want addressed before they move forward with this season.
“This is their call. You may not like it, but times have changed. The players are acutely aware they control both the supply and demand of college football,” wrote CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd.
“Taking a knee? How about taking charge of a sport that has exploited its players for far too long? With athletes formally organizing, history is being witnessed in real time. They have finally realized, en masse, that they are the product.”
College athletes have never had a union to represent them and voice their concerns. The NCAA, supposedly created to protect athletes, is toothless. Now, as athletes have been called back to campuses across the country in the midst of a pandemic in order to make money for universities, college football players are resisting and organizing via social media.
“Perhaps the silver lining to the atrocity of this summer of harm, then, has been the incredible burgeoning resistance movement from college athletes who are seizing power and speaking out against a system that has long denied their voices,” wrote Nathan Kalman-Lamb, Derek Silva and Johanna Mellis in a well-done long-form piece in The Guardian.
It’s very possible we’re in the midst of a perfect storm, out of which, a more just — and safer — college sports model could emerge.
“This is creating a reckoning for the plantation system of college football like we have never seen before,” wrote Dave Zirin in The Nation.
“It’s the pandemic. It’s the racism. It’s the absence of economic justice. And it’s a volatile combination that could change the system forever.”
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
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, with over 150 camps in 30+ U.S. states and Canada. We discuss problems in youth sports today, including single sport specialization, the growing gap between the “haves” and “have-nots,” the high drop-out rate in competitive sports, and the growing mental health challenges young athletes are dealing with today.
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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.
Episode #26 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Fix Youth Sports? – John O’Sullivan is Founder and CEO of Changing the Game Project and author of “Changing the Game: The Parents Guide to Raising Happy, High Performing Athletes and Giving Youth Sports Back to Our Kids.”
Episode #25 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Physical Education Should Be a Critical Component of K-12 School Design – Michael Horn is co-founder of the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation.
Episode #24 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Mental Health and Athletes: Ending the Stigma – Nathan Braaten and Taylor Ricci are the founders of Dam Worth It, a non-profit created to end the stigma around mental health at colleges and universities through sport, storytelling, and community creation.
Episode #23 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Olympian Benita Fitzgerald Mosley Talks Title IX, Youth Sports and the Olympics.
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.
- League of Fans Sports Policy Director Ken Reed quoted in Washington Post column titled "What happened to P.E.? It’s losing ground in our push for academic improvement," by Jay Mathews
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