League of Fans Adds Sports Policy Director, Begins Rolling Out Sports Manifesto
Ralph Nader announced today that due to the increasing number of abuses and injustices against fans and participants at all levels of sport, he is relaunching his League of Fans initiative with the rollout of an eleven-part Sports Manifesto designed to address some of the key issues interfering with an optimal sports experience for fans and participants.
“We’re witnessing the takeover of one of our most cherished cultural practices, sport,” said Nader. “In effect, the joy of sports is being hijacked by owners and other sports powerbrokers with win-at-all-costs and profit-at-all-costs agendas. We plan to address the unjust policies and decisions that result from those approaches to sport.”
Nader said he is committed to fighting for a level playing field in sports by enhancing the ability of sports fans, athletes, and other sports stakeholders to influence sport policy in this country.
To that end, he has added a new sports policy director, Ken Reed, and through his League of Fans organization, developed a Sports Manifesto containing recommended solutions to the ego-and-greed-based problems in sports.
Reed has a long and varied background in the sports field, including time as a sports studies professor, sports marketing and communications consultant, sports issues columnist, and director of a physical education policy center. He is a former college baseball and basketball player and holds a doctorate in sport administration with an emphasis in sport policy.
“I’m thrilled to take on this new challenge,” said Reed. “Sport is a socio-cultural institution of much value for citizens. It shouldn’t be driven by WAAC, win-at-all-costs, and PAAC, profit-at-all-costs, values from the professional level all the way down to the youth level. There are fundamental issues of fairness and equity in sports that simply aren’t being seriously addressed. We hope to change that.”
Nader and Reed released the introduction to the League of Fans’ Sports Manifesto today. The introduction, titled Why We Need a Sports Manifesto, is an overview of the current landscape in the world of sports. It’s also a call for those who love sports to make the decision to become engaged in the fight for fairness and justice by becoming sports reformers and activists themselves. Why We Need a Sports Manifesto is the first of 11 special reports that will make up the Manifesto and be rolled out weekly throughout the rest of the summer.
Reed said the League of Fans is promoting citizenship through sports activism.
“One of our goals is to inspire thousands of potential sports activists and reformers across the United States to work toward a more just sports experience in America,” said Reed. “The League of Fans certainly can’t take on this battle alone. We need the help of people who care deeply about sports, are concerned about what sports have become, and are inspired by what sports can be at their best.”
Nader said the Sports Manifesto has a fourfold purpose:
1) To build momentum toward a vision in which all sports stakeholders are treated justly, fairly, and ethically.
2) To ensure that all those who have a stake in sports – including the millions of fans, sports consumers, sports participants, and taxpayers across the nation – have a voice in how sports are operated in this country.
3) To encourage sports stakeholders to become sports activists and reformers; and to take action to improve the world of sports, wherever they’re at, in whatever way they can, in a collective effort to help sports serve the public interest.
4) To increase the number of sports participants, at all ages in the United States, because of sport’s numerous physical, mental and social benefits.
“More than ever in this new gilded age of sports we need Ralph Nader’s cold, clear-shooting eye and a game plan for taking back the birthright of athletics. The League of Fans is our best hope,” said Robert Lipsyte, long-time New York Times sports columnist and author of the recently released memoir “An Accidental Sportswriter.”
Harry Edwards, one of the nation’s most well-known sports activists and reformers, believes the League of Fans can meet a glaring need in our culture.
“The American sports institution and school-based physical education programs are in crisis,” said Edwards, professor emeritus, University of California Berkeley. “The rising tide of red ink burdening elite collegiate sports programs, the lockouts, strikes, and in some instances, the outright fiscal chaos stalking some professional franchises and leagues, are all hallmarks of current circumstances. Ralph Nader’s League of Fans project potentially focuses, escalates, and expands the dialog and debate concerning the core questions at issue here and holds the promise of bringing the broadest spectrum of “sports stakeholders” into the discussion. On these grounds alone, the League of Fans initiative is not only welcome and needed, it is a national service.”
Nader wants fans, athletes, and other participants to have more input when sports policy decisions are being made.
“Professional sports leagues and big-time Division I athletic conferences are abusing fans in numerous ways,” said Nader. “Fans need to be given a voice. With all the taxpayer money and antitrust exemptions in Big Sport, fans deserve representatives at the table on sports issues that impact them, like the NFL lockout and looming NBA work stoppage. In addition, sports policy in this country is all about elite athletes. We need to create more opportunities for all citizens – young people and adults – to reap the many benefits of sports participation. In a nutshell, that’s what the League of Fans is all about.”
According to Nader, the integrity of sports in the United States is increasingly being compromised by the corporations and powerful executives who control sports. The number of social, cultural, and economic issues and challenges in the world of sports has never been greater.
That’s where an advocacy organization like the League of Fans and its Sports Manifesto come in to play, added Reed.
“Sport is one of life’s greatest pleasures for many of us,” said Reed. “We can no longer stand idly by and surrender sport to those looking to use it as just another way to make big bucks. Sports fans and participants need an advocacy effort like the League of Fans and there’s nobody better to drive this effort — to fight for the ‘little guy’ in sports — than Ralph Nader.”
Sports sociology pioneer Jay Coakley, author of the seminal work Sports in Society: Issues and Controversies, believes those who care deeply about sports stand to be the beneficiaries of Nader’s latest project.
“Ralph Nader’s League of Fans project is long overdue,” said Coakley. “It has the potential to unify those of us who have no voice in the increasingly corporatized world of sports. The issues League of Fans is taking on impact everyone from NFL season ticket holders to children playing on youth sports club teams. If the League of Fans succeeds, citizens will have a way to reclaim sports on their own terms and for their own purposes — a welcome outcome for anyone who loves sports.”
- League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.