By Ken Reed
A couple recent articles caught my eye because their subjects were great athletes without egos. One featured track legend Roger Bannister and the other baseball hall-of-famer Sandy Koufax.
Bannister was the first human being to break what was supposed to be an unbreakable barrier, the 4:00 mile, when he ran 3:59.4 in 1954. He retired a few weeks later and began a long career as one of England’s top neurologists.
Koufax is widely considered the greatest left-handed pitcher in baseball history. But he retired early, at age 30, after growing tired of dealing with a sore elbow. After retiring, he chose to avoid the spotlight a lot of former athletes crave and worked at helping those less fortunate than him through a variety of causes and charitable endeavors.
Bannister is more proud of his career helping people as a doctor than he is of his athletic feats.
“That (medical career) to me is a greater source of satisfaction than happening to move my body at a certain speed for a few moments in 1954,” said Bannister.
Bannister’s lack of ego has been a constant throughout his life.
“Modesty in Bannister amounts to an almost complete reluctance to acknowledge his greatness,” wrote Harold Abrahams, another famous English athlete whose track accomplishments inspired the making of the movie “Chariots of Fire.”
Koufax avoided the spotlight from the minute he retired and never needed the celebrity adulation that fuels many professional athletes.
“He never wanted to be the center of attention — he was never part of that ‘dig me’ generation,” according to long-time baseball manager Tony LaRussa. “That wasn’t Sandy.”
Koufax doesn’t do autograph shows or celebrity dinners. He says he never disappeared, he was just following his grandfather’s advice to “spend your time wisely.”
Both Koufax and Bannister have done just that.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #28 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Chat With Mano Watsa, a Leading Basketball and Life Educator – Watsa is President of PGC Basketball, the largest education basketball camp in the world, with over 150 camps in 30+ U.S. states and Canada. We discuss problems in youth sports today, including single sport specialization, the growing gap between the “haves” and “have-nots,” the high drop-out rate in competitive sports, and the growing mental health challenges young athletes are dealing with today.
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Episode #27 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Kids’ Sports: How We Can Take Back the Game and Restore Quality Family Time In the Process – Linda Flanagan is author of “Take Back the Game: How Money and Mania Are Ruining Kids’ Sports and Why It Matters.” We discuss how commercialized and professionalized youth sports are hurting kids and their families.
Episode #26 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Fix Youth Sports? – John O’Sullivan is Founder and CEO of Changing the Game Project and author of “Changing the Game: The Parents Guide to Raising Happy, High Performing Athletes and Giving Youth Sports Back to Our Kids.”
Episode #25 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Physical Education Should Be a Critical Component of K-12 School Design – Michael Horn is co-founder of the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation.
Episode #24 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Mental Health and Athletes: Ending the Stigma – Nathan Braaten and Taylor Ricci are the founders of Dam Worth It, a non-profit created to end the stigma around mental health at colleges and universities through sport, storytelling, and community creation.
Episode #23 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Olympian Benita Fitzgerald Mosley Talks Title IX, Youth Sports and the Olympics.
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.
Vanderbilt Sport & Society - On The Ball with Andrew Maraniss with guest Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director for League of Fans and author of How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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