While Nation Debates Future of Football, ‘Fan Lobby’ Plays Games

Matt Chaney Tells It Like It Is on 2011 Football Casualties
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February 14, 2012

A week ago today I received the first email I’ve ever gotten from Ken Reed, the sports policy director of the Ralph Nader group League of Fans. Reed wanted me to see an open letter the organization had just sent to Gary Bettman, the commissioner of the National Hockey League, calling for a ban on fighting in the NHL. This follows the offseason evidence that hockey “enforcers” might be dying young as a consequence of brain damage garnered or exacerbated by their participation in the age-old tradition of on-ice brawling. (The League of Fans press release is at http://leagueoffans.org.)

I replied to Reed, in part: “What is your statement on the Cantu-Nowinski announcement last Friday re a hit count for youth football? … I disagree somewhat with your message that the NFL needs to take leadership on youth football safety. The hell with that. WE need to take leadership on youth football safety, independent of the image and commercial interests of the NFL.”

Reed, who had ignored several previous efforts by me to engage League of Fans in points raised by this blog, ignored this one, too.

Meanwhile, the executive director of the counterpart Sports Fans Coalition (http://sportsfans.org), Brian Frederick, was the subject of a story in The New York Times about how his impending wedding plans were being screwed up by college football conference realignment. Frederick and his fiancée want to rent facilities at their alma mater, Kansas, but they’re at the mercy of the 2012 football schedule, which remains in flux. See http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/11/sports/ncaafootball/college-football-holding-up-wedding-plans.html?_r=2&smid=fb-share&pagewanted=all.

Cute, Mr. Frederick. And congratulations to you and your bride-to-be. But your tweet promoting the Times article – “I now can formally say I am a casualty of how the BCS is ruining America” – said both less and more than you think. What you’re a casualty of is how football obsession is ruining America – including your own. As Dennicia Craft, executive assistant to the athletic director at Oklahoma State, told The Times, “It’s amazing what happens when nobody can function because of college football. It does run our lives.”

Frederick’s organization is mad at the mainstream media for not reporting more aggressively on how the federal government is investigating blackouts. Home-market television blackouts of football games, that is.  Not the brain-damage kind. Today is the final day the Federal Communications Commission is accepting public comments on this burning issue.

As for National Football League-subsidized “concussion education” by the Centers for Disease Control? Pattycake hearings on misleading “anti-concussion products” by the Senate Commerce Committee, in which there was no mention of the expensive, overhyped, and National Institutes of Health-supported ImPACT concussion management system, widely used by high school football programs? Standing ovations for the NFL commissioner by the league’s marionettes at the Congress of Neurological Surgeons? None of these topics seem important enough for the Sports Fans Coalition.


Irv Muchnick

For complete info on our ebooks – DUERSON (November 2011), UPMC: Concussion Scandal Ground Zero (January 2012), and George Visger’s OUT OF MY HEAD: My Life In and Out of Football (February 2012) – see https://concussioninc.net/?page_id=4925.

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Concussion Inc. - Author Irvin Muchnick