‘How we can save sports: A gameplan’ provides a fair and honest discussion of contemporary issues in sports
By Gerry Chidiac
Originally published by Troy Media
There is a great dichotomy in the world of sports. Sports can motivate us to live a healthy lifestyle and achieve things we never thought possible, or can bring about our demise. The sports world is full of stories that inspire us, and is riddled with scandal.
An honest analysis and a way to draw out what is best in athletics can only be written by a person with a genuine love of sports, and that is Ken Reed. His book, How we can save sports: A gameplan, looks at the good, the bad and the ugly and provides a way forward. Reed’s website, Leagueoffans.org, also provides a fair and honest discussion of contemporary issues in sports.
People have always played together, and games are integral to any society. People are also physical creatures, so activity and care for our bodies are essential features of our humanity. As our world becomes more automated, it is vital that we find ways to move and interact. Sports and recreation, therefore, have possibly become even more essential to our well-being.
But something has gone wrong.
Troy Media columnist Ken Reed focuses on two issues: win-at-all-costs (WAAC) and profit-at-all-costs (PAAC) mentalities. Both have contaminated all levels of sports, from minor hockey to the National Football League. We yell at our children and then wonder why they no longer want to play. We scream at officials and wonder why no one wants to be a referee. We ignore brain injuries and wonder why parents don’t want their children to play football. We drain public coffers to build ridiculous stadiums and rack up credit card debt to place bets or pay for tickets we can’t afford.
We’ve forgotten that sports are meant to be fun. Healthy competition inspires us to achieve heights that we never thought possible. It also draws us closer to our competitors and helps us to connect as human beings.
Very few of us will ever receive financial compensation for playing sports, but that is not what matters. Though many of us stop playing sports in our teens, our bodies require that we remain physically active throughout our lives, and there are many fun ways to do so.
Of course, we also need to foster greatness. Those with talent and dedication will rise to the highest levels in any athletic activity. They will face – and overcome – adversities, and the rest of us will be inspired by their excellence, much like other forms of art inspire us.
Somewhere along the line, however, we lost our way.
Reed states, “If we truly care about sports … we need to be sports reformers and sports activists in our own way.” Each chapter of his book discusses a specific challenge and ends with recommendations for overcoming it. The appendix lists organizations already making a positive difference in sports and society.
Physically active children and youth do better in school and lead healthier lifestyles. They also become healthier adults. Coaches who respect the humanity of their players also tend to be more effective in the long term, inspiring their charges to be leaders and build a better world.
More than ever, we need sports to bring out the best in ourselves and one another. Thank you, Ken Reed, for shining a light on what is wrong and providing a roadmap to reaching our greatest potential.
— Gerry Chidiac specializes in languages, genocide studies and works with at-risk students. He is the recipient of an award from the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre for excellence in teaching about the Holocaust.
Sports Forum Podcast
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, and has a long involvement with the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sport (now called the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition). We discuss the state of college athletics today, given the pressures of NIL, the transfer portal, sports gambling and huge media contracts. McMillen then provides great perspective on the poor state of physical fitness our young people are experiencing today.
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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.
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.
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