Brian Frederick, executive director of the Sports Fans Coalition, is mad at me for calling out the group on its failure to raise a peep about football concussions. He says they’ll get to that as soon as they clear the decks on more central concerns, the most notable of which is pressuring the National Football League to put more games on free TV. He goes on to assert that he’s already working on the concussion issue with Senator Richard Blumenthal (who just so happens to be one of the many members of Congress who take campaign donations from the NFL’s political action committee, the Gridiron PAC).
This last sounds to me like serious bunk. Take a gander at the Sports Fans Coalition’s published “agenda” at http://sportsfans.org/agenda/. The group says it is “fighting to give sports fans a voice on public policy issues,” but the list of such issues turns out to be mostly couch-potato cliches: eliminating media blackouts, abolishing the college football Bowl Championship Series in favor of a more credible playoff system, and ending “disrespect” of fans in the form of major pro sports work stoppages.
To the coalition’s credit, the agenda also cites public subsidies of new stadium construction — a sign that its horizon might extend a little bit past the top row of the bleachers. But the position on the BCS, for example, does not offer a vision of the role of sports in higher education so much as a clamor for more and more entertainment content, as defined by lowest-common-denominator fans.
As for concussions or anything at all health-related: Nada. Zilch. It ain’t part of the “agenda,” no matter what the status of Frederick’s secret talks with Senator Blumenthal’s office . That’s obviously too hard-core a “public policy issue.”
If Frederick wants to respond again on Twitter, that’s @irvmuch. If he can sustain a thought for more than 140 characters, my blog is also open to him for a guest column.