By Ken Reed
Kevin B. Blackstone had a terrific piece in The Washington Post recently about creative ways stadiums and arenas — usually funded entirely, or in large part, by taxpayer dollars — have been used for positive social impact activities. Even privately built stadiums and arenas are typically the beneficiaries of publicly-funded roads, sewers and transportation hubs around the sites and should be available for public purposes. These stadiums and arenas — especially NFL stadiums — sit unused for numerous days every year.
Blackstone writes about how World Central Kitchen Chef José Andrés uses stadiums as huge food prep and distribution centers in this country, as well as around the world, to feed thousands in need.
Andrés calls these venues “gigantic kitchens” and “fields of hope.”
NBA and WNBA players made headlines before the November election last year for convincing team owners to open their arenas and practice facilities as polling places. That effort made voting more accessible for thousands of Americans.
Others, beyond Andrés, have found creative ways to use stadiums, which given their public funding are actually part of a city’s civic infrastructure, like roads and bridges.
“The public has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on these facilities,” said Michael Friedman, an instructor in Maryland’s kinesiology department and expert on stadiums and public policy. “These are the largest spaces that we as a society build for communal events.”
In addition to giant polling places and kitchens, stadiums and arenas (most notably the luxury suites) can be used as shelters during emergencies.
“They’re very centric, have big spaces and are easy to organize,” said Andrés.
“It’s amazing to see such an important role these stadiums can play. If it’s public money … then these venues should be able to be used as some sort of humanitarian response. We need to be thinking that way going forward.”
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #30 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The State of College Athletics with Dr. David Ridpath: Problems and Potential Solutions – Ridpath is a sports administration professor at Ohio University and a long-time member of The Drake Group, a college sports reform think tank.
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Episode #29 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Honorable Tom McMillen Visits League of Fans’ Sports Forum – McMillen is a former All-American basketball player, Olympian, Rhodes Scholar and U.S. Congressman. We discuss the state of college athletics today.
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. We discuss problems in youth sports today.
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.
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.
- Reed Appears on Ralph Nader Radio Hour League of Fans’ sports policy director, Ken Reed, Ralph Nader and the New York Times’ Tyler Kepner discussed a variety of sports issues on Nader’s radio show as well as Reed’s updated book, How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan. Reed's book was released in paperback in February, and has a new introduction and several updated sections.
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