By Ken Reed
In the latest (December 17-24) issue of Sports Illustrated, the “Sportsperson of the Year” issue, there’s a feature called “A Sportsperson Will … Inspire.” It provides great reading about courage, strength, sportsmanship and the human spirit. The section includes 11 stories/vignettes written by SI staffers.
It starts out with a stirring account of Rachael Denhollander’s fight to bring serial sexual abuser Rachael Denhollander to justice.
Denhollander could have chosen to privately confront her pain from being sexually abused by Nassar. But she chose to go public with her fight against Nassar, USA Gymnastics, Michigan State and others.
“I didn’t want anybody else to go through it,” said Denhollander.
There’s a great piece about Kylian Mbappe`, the young French soccer star who donated all of his tournament earnings after the last World Cup (about $500,000) to a charity that gives free sports instruction to disabled and hospitalized children in France.
“The money doesn’t change my life, but changes theirs,” said Mbappe`.
There’s the story about Justin Gallegos, a 20-year-old distance runner for the University of Oregon running club. Gallegos has cerebral palsy, making distance running very difficult. But he perseveres with determination to be the best he can be.
“We are only limited by our minds and not our bodies,” said Gallegos after a race.
Nike has given Gallegos a professional contract, believed to be the first for an athlete with cerebral palsy.
Stephanie Apstein writes about Ty Koehn, a pitcher for a Minnesota high school team that won the state championship this past year. Koehn struck out the final batter he faced in the title game. But instead of immediately celebrating with his teammates, Koehn sprinted to the plate to hug the boy he had just struck out. The batter was Jack Kocon, Koehn’s lifelong friend.
“I love you,” Koehn told Kocon. “There were seven innings in this game, and one at bat wasn’t the deciding factor. I hope you remember our friendship longer than this game. Don’t hang your head, you’ve done a great job.”
“Thanks,” said Kocon. “Congratulations.”
What his friend Koehn did has become even more important to Kocon in the months that have followed the strikeout.
“In a few years I’m not gonna remember the score of the game,” says Kocon, “but I’ll remember that moment.”
There are seven additional stories of inspiration in the SI feature. They are definitely worth the read, especially during this holiday season.
They are true representations of sport at its best.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of FansPrint
- Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
- Ken Reed's Author Page on Amazon
- 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.