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 #7 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Brain Trauma and CTE Risk in Sports With Dr. Ann McKee – Dr. McKee is a true superstar in the field of neuropathology and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), and has demonstrated that “mild” repetitive head trauma can provoke CTE, a devastating neurodegenerative disease.
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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.
Episode #4 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Biggest Issue in Sports Today? Brain Trauma – The guest is Patrick Hruby, a journalist who has done extensive research and in-depth writing on the topic of brain trauma in sports, most notably football.
Episode #3 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Coaching Styles with Sports Sociologist Jay Coakley – The guest is veteran sports sociologist Jay Coakley, a former college athlete who went on to earn a Ph.D. in Sociology from Notre Dame.
Episode #2 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: College & High School Athletics: Where Do We Go From Here? The guest is John Gerdy, a former college athlete and NCAA and SEC administrator who became a sports reformer later in his career.
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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