By Ken Reed
Former MLB players union executive director Marvin Miller passed away recently from liver cancer. His death barely caused a ripple in the sports world. That’s a shame.
Miller’s efforts dramatically improved the pro sports industry, not just for the players, but for fans and even owners, who have thrived under the pro sports business structure Miller helped establish.
“I think he’s the most important baseball figure of the last 50 years,” said former baseball commissioner Fay Vincent. “He changed not just the sport but the business of the sport permanently, and he truly emancipated the baseball player — and in the process all professional athletes.”
Miller was the top labor negotiator for the United Steelworkers when he shocked everyone he knew by agreeing to head the baseball players union in 1965. The union had only $5,400 in its bank account and no staffers.
“I loved baseball, and I loved a good fight, and, in my mind, ballplayers were among the most exploited workers in America,” said Miller about his thinking at the time.
Miller revolutionized pro sports by winning free agency for MLB players. He also was the instigator behind the salary arbitration process in baseball. When Miller took over the minimum player salary was less than $7,000 a year. The players’ pension plan was very minimal. Player grievances could only be heard by the commissioner — who worked for the owners. Today’s minimum salary is nearly $500,000 a year.
“I don’t know of anyone who changed the game more than Marvin Miller,” said Robin Roberts, a Hall of Fame pitcher for the Philadelphia Phillies. “His legacy is that through his work, ballplayers for the first time attained dignity from owners.”
That’s a nice legacy.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
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.” We discuss overzealous adults in youth sports, the dangers of sport specialization, youth sports entrepreneurs and the profit-at-all-costs mindset, and the growing socio-economic gap in youth sports.
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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.
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.
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.
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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