Jan 152015
 

College sports teams generate about $6 billion in revenue for universities and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) each year. Many coaches also earn several million dollars in salaries and endorsements each year. However, the NCAA insists college athletes are amateurs and ineligible to be compensated more than the scholarships they receive. Advocates say most of these “amateur” athletes practice and train 12 months a year as well as attend school full time. Critics claim this convenient rule allows the exploitation of many young American men and women, saying other students attend universities on non-athletic scholarships and are not forced to work hard, risk serious injury or make millions for their school and the NCAA. Financial stress causes many of these young athletes to drop out of school or leave early in an attempt to play in professional leagues. Most universities do not provide health insurance to scholarship athletes, and many revoke the scholarships of those who get injured or who do not perform as well as expected. Compensation proponents say colleges should be allowed to give stipends, jobs and health insurance to these athletes. One 2010 study found the average out-of–pocket expense of colleges awarding a full scholarship to an athlete was about $3,200. It also found the fair market value of a football and basketball player at a large university was more than $120,000 and $265,000 respectively. These values more than tripled for athletes playing at top sports schools. This study also found that since athletic scholarships do not cover all student costs and many athletes do not have time for a job, at least 85% of all scholarship players are living below the poverty line. Critics also say athletes do not get paid royalties from the sale of their jerseys or for digital appearances in video games. Even after athletes have left college, the NCAA retains some of these licensing rights in perpetuity. Critics say that everyone including the NCAA, colleges, coaches, TV networks, advertisers, apparel and video game manufacturers make money off our “amateur” athletes -except the athletes themselves. However, the National Labor Relations Board has recently ruled that Northwestern University’s football players are employees and have the right to unionize, saying there is enough evidence to show these athletes are employees of the university -getting paid in the form of scholarships, working between 20 and 50 hours per week and generating millions of dollars for their schools. Also, as a result of a former UCLA basketball player’s lawsuit, the NCAA and a video game maker have recently agreed to pay players, who competed between 2005 and 2014, $60 million from revenue generated by the use of their names and images. It has yet to be decided whether players will receive a share of the revenue from the telecasts of sporting events.

Pending Legislation: None

I oppose reforming current amateur athlete compensation policy

I support identifying a legislator who will sponsor a bill requiring colleges and universities to fairly compensate scholarship athletes; provide paid health insurance; guarantee a 4-year scholarship; and allow athletes and former athletes to negotiate compensation for items marketed in their names

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is an untreatable neurodegenerative disease that is a long-term consequence of head trauma. This trauma can result from single or multiple head injuries. CTE is usually discovered only during an autopsy, making it difficult to estimate the number of athletes suffering from this disease. When examined, the brains of those who suffered CTE injuries are characterized by the degeneration of tissue and the accumulation of tau proteins. CTE has been closely tied to athletes who participate in martial arts, boxing, wrestling, rodeo riding or playing football, hockey, rugby, lacrosse and other contact sports that involve repeated brain trauma. CTE has also been found in military servicemembers who have experienced blast injuries and those suffering from old age. Individuals with CTE often show symptoms that are similar to Alzheimer’s disease such as motor skill and memory loss, aggression, confusion and depression. These symptoms can progress to Parkinsonian symptoms and usually appear years or decades after head trauma. CTE can be fatal in some cases. The NFL has agreed to a $765 million settlement with 18,000 retired players over concussion-related injuries. However, a federal judge has rejected this settlement over concerns it would not be enough to cover these injured players for the rest of their lives. Physicians say that eliminating CTE injuries from contact sports will be extremely difficult. Even though safety equipment has greatly improved over the years, doctors say it is not possible to prevent or cushion the brain from impacting the skull during contact, which can occur in training and during practices just as it does in games. They claim the cumulative effect of these injuries is also very worrisome since most adult athletes have been playing sports since their youth. Recent studies of football and hockey players who had completed a season without suffering a concussion or head trauma showed worrisome changes in brain structure and cognitive performance that weren’t shared by athletes who competed in varsity sports such as track, crew and cross-country skiing. These studies suggest that a season-long succession of small hits, none hard enough to cause disorientation or draw medical attention, may prompt changes in the brain that cause problems with memory, mood or mental performance in later years.

The NCAA allows football teams five days of full-contact practice during each week of the season. However, some schools have reduced these practices to three days a week to reduce CTE injuries. California has recently passed a law which limits full-contact practices in public and private middle and high schools to two 90-minute sessions per week during the season and preseason. It also prohibits full-contact practices during the offseason and requires a player who has sustained a concussion to be benched for at least a week. Some coaches caution that this could result in more injuries as lesser-prepared athletes take the field. Others claim that patronizing contact sport events contributes to the number of CTE injuries and that these sports should be banned for children under 18. Current CTE research is focusing on education and diagnosis of living victims and this has yielded some positive results. Recently, a new method of brain imaging has been used to reveal signs of CTE in living people. A brain-scanning technique used to identify signs of Alzheimer’s disease has been adapted to image tau proteins. Researchers say this technology could help susceptible players limit their exposure to head trauma and may lead to the development of better protective gear and treatment for CTE injuries.

Pending legislation:

S.1014 & H.R.2118 – Youth Sports Concussion Act of 2013

I oppose reforming current CTE policy and wish to defeat S.1014 & H.R.2118

I support authorizing the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to make recommendations to protective equipment manufacturers regarding whether voluntary standards should be adopted to: reduce the risk of sports-related injury for youth athletes wearing protective equipment; improve the safety of reconditioned protective equipment; and modify protective equipment warning labels; permitting the CPSC to initiate the promulgation of a consumer product safety rule if no voluntary standard is adopted within a one-year period; making it unlawful to sell or offer for sale in interstate commerce, or import into the United States for such purposes, athletic sporting equipment for which the seller or importer makes any false or misleading claim with respect to the safety benefits of such item, and wish to pass S.1014 & H.R.2118

I support identifying a legislator who will sponsor a bill to limit full-contact practices in sports for youths under the age of 18

I support identifying a legislator who will sponsor a bill to ban contact sports for youths under the age of 18

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is a nonprofit entity that administers intercollegiate athletic programs for 1,200 colleges here and in Canada. The NCAA is accused of exploiting many young athletes because it reaps billions of dollars for itself and other private institutions while refusing to compensate those responsible for its success. It is said the NCAA and universities pay little to furnish the “theater, actors, lights, music and audience for a drama that is neatly measured into TV time slots. The only things the networks need to bring are their cameras and a check.” It is estimated that more than $6 billion is annually generated by university athletic programs through ticket sales, television contracts, endorsements and advertising.

However, most scholarship athletes live in poverty conditions while attending college. Often, the demands of college sports leave little time for part-time jobs or for majoring in challenging curricula. NCAA officials claim its athletes are fairly compensated with $100,000 scholarships which cover tuition, fees, room and board. Opponents disagree, saying most of these scholarships are not worth much because most universities leave athletes unprepared for post-sports careers. It has recently been discovered that for decades, in order to maintain academic eligibility, a least one major university has funneled its athletes into worthless, fraudulent classes without significant attendance, studying or grading requirements.

Other NCAA criticisms include its practice of selling ads and product endorsements featuring a player wearing a sponsor’s clothing, or being portrayed in a video game, without compensating that player. The NCAA is also criticized for its lack of due-process protections when taking disciplinary actions against athletes and schools.

Pending legislation:

H.R.2903 – National Collegiate Athletics Accountability Act

I oppose reforming current NCAA policy and wish to defeat H.R.2903

I support amending the 1965 Higher Education Act to state that in the case of an institution that has an intercollegiate athletic program, the institution will not be a member of a nonprofit athletic association unless such association: requires annual baseline concussion testing of each student athlete on the active roster of each team participating in a contact/collision sport before such student athlete may participate in any contact drills or activities; prior to enforcing any remedy for an alleged infraction or violation of the policies of such association: provide institutions and student athletes with the opportunity for a formal administrative hearing including not less than one appeal; requiring any aid provided to student athletes who play a contact/collision sport to be: guaranteed for the duration of the student athlete’s attendance at the institution, up to 4 years; irrevocable for reasons related to athletic skill or injury of the student athlete; does not have in place a policy that prohibits institutions from paying stipends to student athletes, and wish to pass H.R.2093

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

There is no private organization that administers and regulates the sport of boxing as the NCAA does for college sports or as the NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB do for professional sports. For many decades, there has been a wide range of rules and policies governing boxing competition. States, Indian tribes, boxing federations, fight promoters and TV networks have all influenced boxing regulations for their own benefit. This sport has long been associated with the exploitation of boxers, corrupt judges and self-serving unscrupulous promoters. Critics claim the questionable outcomes of many matches and the inexplicable rankings of some contenders, apparently designed to push the careers of certain fighters, are examples of this corruption. Boxing critics say this sport lost credibility with the public long ago. They say boxing is long overdue for regulations which set uniform standards for fight contracts, contender rankings, qualifications of referees and judges, and requiring states to accept each other’s decisions. The also say that more must be done to protect the health of boxers.

Pending Legislation: None

I oppose reforming current boxing policy

I support establishing the U.S. Boxing Administration to protect the general interests of boxers, ensure uniformity, fairness and integrity in professional boxing, oversee all professional boxing matches, ensure that professional boxing laws are enforced, and wish to identify a legislator who will reintroduce H.R.1065 – United States Boxing Commission Act (109th Congress 2005-2006

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

Admissions by many current and former professional baseball players have shown how rampant the use of performance enhancing drugs (PED) is in this sport. PEDs include steroids and human growth hormone (HGH) but there are many more. Professional athletes in football, track and field, hockey and cycling are also known to have used PEDs which aid in building muscle, oxygenating blood and recovering from injuries. Using steroids is illegal unless prescribed by a doctor for a known medical condition. However, PEDs are easily obtained from the Internet, unscrupulous doctors or from over-the-counter pharmacies in Mexico and other Latin American countries. Steroids are proven to increase muscle mass, especially when combined with proper nutrition and strength training, but they can also cause muscle-tendon injuries and have serious side-effects. These include heart and liver damage, endocrine system problems, elevated cholesterol levels, strokes, aggressive behavior and the shrinkage and dysfunction of genitalia. All our major sports leagues and the International Olympic Committee test their athletes for PEDs. However, HGH is currently undetectable and newly-developed “designer steroids” often evade detection until testing methods catch up with these new substances. New genetically engineered PEDs are soon expected to complement the current group of steroid and hormone supplements. Some claim that since PEDs are so prevalent, we should legalize these drugs and enjoy their contributions to player performance and the spectacle of sport. They say that PEDs could then be safely dispensed under medical supervision. Others maintain the use of PEDs is cheating, sets a bad example for our youth, tarnishes the achievements of those who do not use, and is harmful to those who do.

Pending Legislation: None

I oppose reforming current performance enhancing drug policy

I support prohibiting a major professional league from arranging, promoting, organizing, or producing a professional game without first testing for the use of performance enhancing drugs (PED) by professional athletes and for public disclosure of the names of athletes who test positive; requiring the suspension of an athlete for a minimum of two years for the first violation, and a lifetime ban for the second violation for being caught using PEDs; allowing a league to impose a lesser penalty if the athlete: establishes that he did not know or suspect he had used the prohibited substance; or provides substantial assistance to the league in identifying violations of the league’s drug testing policy by other athletes or by any personnel working with or treating athletes, and wish to identify a legislator who will reintroduce S.1114 & H.R.2565 – Clean Sports Act of 2005 (109th Congress 2005-2006)

I support identifying a legislator who will sponsor a bill to legalize the use of performance enhancing drugs by professional athletes

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

The stakes are high for today’s aspiring athletes. The rewards for being big, strong, quick and fast entice some kids to “get an edge” on competition. Performance-enhancing drugs (PED) include anabolic steroids which build muscle mass by stimulating protein growth, and human growth hormones which stimulate natural sex steroids such as testosterone and estrogen, also to increase body mass. Recent surveys have documented the use of these illegal and unapproved drugs by American high school athletes. Recent studies have also found these drugs are increasingly being used by this age group to improve appearance. Advocates warn there have not been any studies to determine the safe or long-term consumption levels of PEDs for children. All PEDs have adverse side effects and many advocates believe the use of these drugs will shorten one’s lifespan. Studies have found that up to 12% of boys and 3% of girls are using anabolic steroids in high school. Most of these students began using at 16 and many have done multiple cycles. Studies have also found that nearly 4% of our middle school students, ages 9 to 13, are using steroids. In 1995, our Supreme Court ruled that PED testing for high school athletes is constitutional. Supporters say that testing serves as a deterrent and also offers students a way to say no to these dangerous drugs.

Pending Legislation: None

I oppose reforming current youth sports performance enhancing drug policy

I support identifying a legislator who will sponsor a bill establishing a program to research the use of performance-enhancing drugs by junior high and high school athletes; and funding educational substance abuse prevention and intervention programs, including drug testing, related to the use of PEDs for students in this age group

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

The most common high school sport is basketball, with about 18,000 schools fielding both boys and girls teams. Football has the most participants among high school sports with more than 1.1 million student athletes competing at 14,000 schools. Nearly 7.7 million, or 55% of all high school students, now play organized sports. Surveys have shown that in 2011, 40,000 more high school students played sports than in 2010. This was the 22nd consecutive year participation has increased in high school sports. However, the average annual increase in participation over these 22 years has been about 100,000 students per year. Educators say this recent slowdown in growth is because of reduced budgets at many schools. Studies have consistently shown that student athletes perform better in school than students who don’t play sports. Many say sports also help keep kids out of trouble, teach principles of teamwork, and impart leadership skills to participants. Even so, many school districts continue to slash athletic budgets and raise participation fees, with schools in less wealthy districts cutting these programs the most. Educators say extracurricular programs such as sports, arts and music are important elements in a complete and well-rounded education for all high school students.

Pending legislation: None

I oppose reforming current high school sports policy

I support identifying a legislator who will sponsor a bill to ensure economically-challenged high schools have the ability to offer sports programs to all students who wish to participate in them

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

Online betting is one of the Internet’s fastest growing sectors. As of last year, there were at least 250 casinos, 64 lotteries, 20 bingo games and 139 sports books operating online. Our 1961 Wire Act forbids betting on sports but it doesn’t explicitly prohibit other types of gaming. However, our federal government has consistently interpreted this law to prohibit all types of online gambling. Until recently, all online casinos were located in foreign lands. Placing bets with these casinos was mostly done with credit cards, debit cards and wire transfers. To stop Internet gambling, Congress passed laws that restricted the processing of these types of payments. However, these laws have not deterred millions of Americans from continuing to place bets on overseas websites. It is estimated that Americans annually account for about $45 billion, or nearly 10%, of all online gambling revenue worldwide. Some states, including Louisiana, specifically prohibit Internet gambling. Critics say online gambling sites flout local laws, entice children to gamble, and tempt adults who may be struggling with gambling addiction. They also claim these unregulated Internet casinos do not guarantee payouts to bettors and can serve as covers for money laundering operations. With prospects for new tax revenue in mind, several states including New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware have legalized online gambling. Other states are soon expected to follow. Gambling industry supporters say that, in light of new state laws, our government would be better off regulating and taxing this industry rather than suppressing it.

Pending Legislation:

H.R.2282 – Internet Gambling Regulation, Enforcement, and Consumer Protection Act of 2013

I oppose reforming current Internet gambling policy and wish to defeat H.R.2282

I support legalizing all forms of online gambling except sports betting; creating an Office of Internet Gambling Oversight in the Department of Treasury to oversee online gambling operations; using state regulatory expertise for guidelines on licensing and enforcement; allowing for equal participation for casinos, Indian tribes, lotteries, and other potential operators; grandfathering online gaming entities already operating by states and tribes, and wish to pass H.R.2282

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

Fan violence at sporting events is nothing new. Most spectators have experienced fans shouting obscenities, throwing objects, and harassing or fighting other fans or members of opposing teams. Security officials say alcohol is by far the biggest factor responsible for most of the stadium violence we experience at games and in parking lots. Not long ago, separate incidents at California stadiums resulted in two fans being shot and nearly beaten to death, while a third was stabbed to death. A Dallas player was struck in the head with a bottle after scoring the winning goal in a soccer match. Three people were stabbed outside Mile High Stadium after a Denver Broncos loss and another fan was killed after an altercation outside Kansas City’s Arrowhead Stadium. Critics say that if pro sport franchises and stadiums want revenue from beer and wine sales, they should be required to ensure spectators are not hurt by drunken fans. They also say that if alcohol is allowed at tailgate parties, stadiums should secure parking lots and refuse admission to anyone who is obviously intoxicated.

Pending Legislation: None

I oppose reforming current stadium policy

I support identifying a legislator who will sponsor a bill requiring stadiums and arenas that allow alcohol during sporting events to maintain security that is sufficient to protect spectators from intoxicated or abusive fans both within the stadium or arena and its parking lots

I support identifying a legislator who will prohibit the use of public funds for construction or renovation of stadiums and arenas

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

In 1966, the first artificial turf field was constructed by placing synthetic “grass” on top of concrete slabs. Athletes complained this thin, hard surface caused serious injuries. Since then, synthetic turf has improved and evolved into its present state. Most athletic fields now contain styrene butadiene rubber, or “crumb rubber,” -tiny black crumbs made from ground-up car tires spread in between the plastic blades of fake grass. These “black dots” give the field more cushion and help prevent injury. We now have more than 11,000 synthetic sport fields in use, most contain crumb rubber, and many of these fields are used for children’s soccer activities. Crumb rubber infill is also used in playgrounds and gardens. Some college soccer coaches have recently noticed that an unusual number of their goalkeepers have contracted blood cancers such as lymphoma and leukemia. One coach compiled a list of 38 American soccer players diagnosed with cancer, and found that 34 were goalies. They say goalies experience the highest exposure to crumb rubber due to repeated dives and constant contact with the turf. The result is that a significant amount of these rubber particles contaminate cuts and scrapes, and get into eyes, noses and mouths. These coaches believe this is the reason their players are getting sick – most of whom have spent countless hours over many years practicing and playing on these kinds of fields. Furthermore, it is known that athletic fields are usually 10-20 degrees warmer than the ambient air temperature, causing carcinogens such as benzene, carbon black and lead to be released from crumb rubber and concentrating in the air above a field. Health problems caused by exposure to these chemicals and dusts have previously been documented in workers who manufacture tires. Some limited studies have shown crumb rubber is not a health problem, but most of these studies admit their findings are not conclusive and that more studies need to be done. Advocates say a comprehensive study of any potential health risks from crumb rubber is needed to assess its safety and continued use. The EPA has resisted this request saying that it is a matter which should be individually addressed by each state.

Pending Legislation: None

I support identifying a legislator who will sponsor a bill to require the Environmental Protection Agency to conduct a comprehensive study of any potential health risks from sports fields containing crumb rubber

 Posted by at 12:00 am