FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

New Sports Exposé

Make no mistake about it, sports are important.

That’s true if for no other reason than the fact that sports absorb billions of hours of people’s time – at all ages. Whatever you think about sports, they’re clearly important for that reason alone.

Sports are also important because they have become a multibillion-dollar industry, one of the top ten biggest industries in the country. According to Plunkett Research, the estimated size of the entire sports industry in 2012 was $435 billion. That makes it much bigger than the U.S. auto industry, movie industry and many others.

Sports are important because professional and big-time college sports basically operate as self-regulated monopolies. That creates problems that filter all the way down to sports at the high school and youth levels.

Finally, sports are important because sports ethos, mentalities and policies impact, in one way or another, virtually all aspects of our society.

While sports started as a form of play, recreation, and fun for family and friends, they have increasingly become commercialized and professionalized spectacles, at all levels (See: Little League World Series). The result is our games suffer from a general soul sickness, resulting in problems that are zapping the human spirit out of the games we love at their best.

Clearly, sports are worthy of more serious examination than they receive in the United States today.

Nevertheless, controversial sports problems and abuses haven’t received the persistent, timely attention they deserve, including the development of well-conceived remedies for the games’ ills.

Until now.

How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan, by Dr. Ken Reed a former college athlete, coach, long-time sports marketer, sports management savesportsinstructor and sports issues columnist, and now sports policy director for our League of Fans (see leagueoffans.org) is unlike any other sports book I’ve seen.

There are plenty of books on the market about each of our most popular sports – football, basketball, baseball, hockey, tennis, golf, etc. There are numerous books that profile our well-known sports figures. And there are a few books on specific sports issues like concussions and taxpayer-financed stadiums and arenas.

But Reed’s book is different. It covers the whole waterfront of sports issues and looks at how they’re all interconnected. It’s basically a sports manifesto that looks at nine of the most important sports issues we face today and the red thread that weaves through them all, from youth sports to the pros.

And what is that red thread?

According to Reed, it’s ego and greed, and the win-at-all-costs (WAAC) and profit-at-all-costs (PAAC) policies and mentalities those vices have spawned throughout the world of sports.

In fact, it is these WAAC and PAAC policies and mentalities that are the foundation of the numerous issues Reed addresses in his book, including: adult-dominated youth sports; the demise of physical education and intramural sports in our schools; militaristic coaches that berate and abuse our young athletes; the lack of adequate concussion safety protocols and return-to-play guidelines throughout sports; a college sports model in which athletes’ economic and civil rights are denied; wealthy pro sports owners who hold taxpayers hostage in order to get publicly-financed sports palaces built; and an ongoing lack of equal opportunity in sports for female, disabled, and LGBT athletes and administrators. The list goes on.

One issue that Reed addresses in his book really hits home with me. He points out the fallacy behind the idea that the United States is a “sports mad country” as many outsiders have called us. In effect, we’re a country that’s mad about spectator sports. Our sports pages should really be renamed “Spectator Sports” because that’s all they cover. They have nothing to do with community participatory sports.

Americans love watching sports, usually while sitting on their couches eating junk food. It’s interesting to note that in a University of Arkansas, Little Rock study, highly identified sports fans had significantly higher health risk behaviors than non-sports fans on a range of health behavior measures, including a higher Body Mass Index (BMI), along with higher fat, fast food and alcohol consumption.

Reed also takes a jab at the sports media. He points out that the media will occasionally identify scandals, and other symptoms of problems in the sports world, but then stop. What’s left missing is a discussion regarding how to mitigate these problems. Also, mostly left out is any reporting of sports reform initiatives and grassroots movements designed to change sport—unless there is a major eruption or scandal that can’t be ignored.

Why? Because sports media corporations, and most sports journalists, have too much invested, economically and psychologically in the current system to push for significant change. As Reed says, the dominant ideology of commercialized and professionalized sport is diffused through corporate entities, including sports media.

Therefore, it’s up to citizens who love sport at its best, to rise up and push for change. Reed labels his call to action “citizenship through sports activism.” He provides would-be sports reformers and activists the analytical foundation, recommendations and resources needed to improve the valuable sports experience for all stakeholders.

He also identifies where people are already fighting for needed change around the country.

That’s good news because sports can be healthy socio-cultural practice of much value when win-at-all-cost and profit-at-all-cost thinking aren’t driving the bus.

Let’s hope that a significant number of sports fans—including concerned parents of young athletes—take Reed’s lead and start debating and discussing these issues in their communities.

It’s time for a grand slam look at the entire sports scene.

Ralph Nader’s latest book is: Unstoppable: the Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State.

More articles by:

Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! 

April 19, 2018
Ramzy Baroud
Media Cover-up: Shielding Israel is a Matter of Policy
Vijay Prashad
Undermining Brazilian Democracy: the Curious Saga of Lula
Steve Fraser
Class Dismissed: Class Conflict in Red State America
John W. Whitehead
Crimes of a Monster: Your Tax Dollars at Work
Kenn Orphan
Whistling Past the Graveyard
Karl Grossman - TJ Coles
Opening Pandora’s Box: Karl Grossman on Trump and the Weaponization of Space
Colin Todhunter
Behind Theresa May’s ‘Humanitarian Hysterics’: The Ideology of Empire and Conquest
Jesse Jackson
Syrian Strikes is One More step Toward a Lawless Presidency
Michael Welton
Confronting Militarism is Early Twentieth Century Canada: the Woman’s International League for Peace and Freedom
Alycee Lane
On David S. Buckel and Setting Ourselves on Fire
Jennifer Matsui
Our Overlords Reveal Their Top ‘To Do’s: Are YOU Next On Their Kill List?
George Ochenski
Jive Talkin’: On the Campaign Trail With Montana Republicans
Kary Love
Is It Time for A Nice, “Little” Nuclear War?
April 18, 2018
Alan Nasser
Could Student Loans Lead to Debt Prison? The Handwriting on the Wall
Susan Roberts
Uses for the Poor
Alvaro Huerta
I Am Not Your “Wetback”
Jonah Raskin
Napa County, California: the Clash of Oligarchy & Democracy
Robert Hunziker
America’s Dystopian Future
Geoffrey McDonald
“America First!” as Economic War
Jonathan Cook
Robert Fisk’s Douma Report Rips Away Excuses for Air Strike on Syria
Jeff Berg
WW III This Ain’t
Binoy Kampmark
Macron’s Syria Game
Linn Washington Jr.
Philadelphia’s Top Cop Defends Indefensible Prejudice in Starbucks Arrest Incident
Katie Fite
Chaos in Urban Canyons – Air Force Efforts to Carve a Civilian Population War Game Range across Southern Idaho
Robby Sherwin
Facebook: This Is Where I Leave You
April 17, 2018
Paul Street
Eight Takeaways on Boss Tweet’s Latest Syrian Missile Spasm
Robert Fisk
The Search for the Truth in Douma
Eric Mann
The Historic 1968 Struggle Against Columbia University
Roy Eidelson
The 1%’s Mind Games: Psychology Gone Bad
John Steppling
The Sleep of Civilization
Patrick Cockburn
Syria Bombing Reveals Weakness of Theresa May
Dave Lindorff
No Indication in the US That the Country is at War Again
W. T. Whitney
Colombia and Cuba:  a Tale of Two Countries
Dean Baker
Why Isn’t the Median Wage for Black Workers Rising?
Linn Washington Jr.
Philadelphia’s Top Cop Defends Indefensible Prejudice in Starbucks Arrest Incident
C. L. Cook
Man in the Glass
Kary Love
“The Mob Boss Orders a Hit and a Pardon”
Lawrence Wittner
Which Nations Are the Happiest―and Why
Dr. Hakim
Where on Earth is the Just Economy that Works for All, Including Afghan Children?
April 16, 2018
Dave Lindorff
President Trump’s War Crime is Worse than the One He Accuses Assad of
Ron Jacobs
War is Just F**kin’ Wrong
John Laforge
Nuclear Keeps on Polluting, Long After Shutdown
Norman Solomon
Missile Attack on Syria Is a Salute to “Russiagate” Enthusiasts, Whether They Like It or Not
Uri Avnery
Eyeless in Gaza   
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Iraq Then, Syria Now
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail