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 #14 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Making Sense of the Injury Pandemic in Major League Baseball – The guest is Gary McCoy, a strength, conditioning and high performance coach who has worked with several Major League Baseball organizations. Our focus is the injury pandemic in baseball, what’s causing it and how it can be fixed.
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Episode #13 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Conversation With Long-Time MLB Exec Dan Evans About What’s Right With Baseball and What Could Be Better – Evans is a former general manager for the Los Angeles Dodgers and is currently a consultant for Go the Distance Baseball, which owns the Field of Dreams movie site.
Episode #12 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Fun Chat With Dan Gutman, Author of the Baseball Card Adventure Series for Kids
Episode #11 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Latest on Brain Trauma, Concussions and CTE with Dr. Chris Nowinski – Nowinski is CEO of the Concussion Legacy Foundation.
Episode #10 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: An Issues Discussion With Paul Dolan – Dolan is the Cleveland Indians Owner and CEO.
Episode #9 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking Sports Issues With Ralph Nader – Nader is a consumer advocate and was named one of the “100 Most Influential Americans of the 20th Century” by Time magazine. He is the founder of League of Fans.
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.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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.
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