By Ken Reed
The tendency today among sports skeptics (yes, I often qualify) is to denigrate everyone and everything in sports, especially the highly commercialized big-time college and pro sports. It’s not fair. There are some outstanding people in sports, from the little leagues to the big leagues. There always have been and there always will be.
One of the best — on the basketball court and off — died recently. His name was Jack Twyman. Twyman was a very good — not great — but very good basketball player. He was a six-time NBA All-Star during his 11-year career, spanning the late 50’s and 60’s. But he’s remembered as much for his humanity and the compassion he showed a fallen teammate, as he is for any of his basketball exploits.
Twyman’s Cincinnati Royals teammate, Maurice Stokes, suffered a paralyzing brain injury in the final regular season game of the 1958 season. Stokes was nearly destitute and Twyman became his legal guardian. He raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Stokes to pay for medical care, and helped him to communicate by blinking his eyes for each of the letters in the alphabet. Twyman and his wife Carole became co-trustees of the Maurice Stokes Foundation, which was initially set up to defray Stokes’ medical costs but which became a foundation to help other needy NBA veterans as well.
“Maurice was on his own,” said Twyman about Stokes’ predicament after his injury. “Something had to be done and someone had to do it. I was the only one there so I became that someone.”
As AOL/Sporting News columnist David Whitley wrote, “A 23-year-old white guy basically adopted a paralyzed 24-year-old black man.”
Years after his tragic injury, when Stokes had recovered enough finger flexibility to type, his first message was: “Dear Jack, How can I ever thank you?”
Stokes died in 1970. At the time, columnist Arthur Daley of The New York Times wrote about the “nobility and grandeur” in Twyman’s actions, likening him to the biblical good Samaritan.
Whitley called Jack Twyman the best teammate in the history of the NBA. It’s hard to argue with that.
The Twyman-Stokes story is a model of compassion and courage that we all — athlete, fan, human being — could grow from if followed.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #22 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Rethinking Sports Fandom with Author Craig Calcaterra – We discuss Calcaterra’s new book “Rethinking Fandom: How to Beat the Sports-Industrial Complex at Its Own Game” and explore new ways to be a fan in the year 2022.
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Episode #21 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Chatting About a Broken Game With Baseball Writer Pedro Moura – Moura is a national baseball writer for Fox Sports. We discuss how and why the game of baseball is broken, what factors caused it, and offer a few thoughts on how to “fix” a great game.
Episode #20 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Coaching Youth and High School Sports Based On What’s Best for the Athlete’s Holistic Development – We chat with long-time youth, high school and college basketball coach Jim Huber.
Episode #19 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Capturing the Spirit of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League with Anika Orrock – We discuss the hoops AAGPFL women had to jump through to play the game they loved as well as the long-term impact and legacy they have in advancing sports opportunities for girls and women.
Episode #18 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking about the 50th Anniversary of Title IX and the Lia Thomas Controversy with Nancy Hogshead-Makar – Hogshead-Makar is a triple gold medalist in swimming, a civil rights attorney and CEO of Champion Women.
Episode #17 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking Sports With Legendary New York Times Sports Columnist Robert Lipsyte – We chat about Lipsyte’s amazing career and some of the athletes he covered.
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
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.
- League of Fans Sports Policy Director Ken Reed quoted in Washington Post column titled "What happened to P.E.? It’s losing ground in our push for academic improvement," by Jay Mathews
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.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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