A Think-Tank for Sports Reform

By Staff

Athletic Management, 16.3, April/May 2004, http://www.momentummedia.com/articles/am/am1603/wureform.htm

When an organization forms and names itself the "National Institute for Sports Reform," it begs the question: Why have yet another organization concerned with righting current problems in athletics? It turns out thatís just the point.

Director Bruce Svare, a youth-sports coach and psychology professor at the State University of New York at Albany, says the NISR aspires to set itself apart by being objective, authoritative, and all-encompassing. Whereas most organizations concern themselves with a certain aspect of sports or a particular level, the NISR will be a clearinghouse offering information, informed opinion, and advice on just about any issue of reform in athletics. By doing so, it hopes to cut through the haze and help accomplish meaningful changes.

Svare hopes the NISR can become to sports what the Washington think tank the Brookings Institution is to government and politics: a source of help to policy makers who must make decisions about topics they donít necessarily specialize in. "Experts within the institute, who we call our faculty scholars, would be commissioned to study and write on a particular issue," he says. "We can offer independent assessments that are not clouded by individuals who have an agenda about making money or winning contests, but instead an agenda more about the athletesí experience and the integrity of sports."

The roster of faculty scholars isnít complete, but some may come from the existing advisory board. That panel comprises university-based and independent sports historians and ethicists; noted academic-reform advocates such as Jon Ericson, founder of the Drake Group of professors, and Linda Bensel-Myers, the English professor who blew the whistle on athletics academic fraud at the University of Tennessee; Charles Yesalis, a Penn State expert on performance-enhancing drugs; Ramogi Huma, a former UCLA football player and the founder of the Collegiate Athletes Coalition; ex-NBA player and current youth-sports critic Bob Bigelow; and veteran college basketball coach Dale Brown.

The NISR plans to publish the first edition of an annual journal this summer, and it held its first annual conference in November. Its Web site is www.nisr.org.