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 #10 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: An Issues Discussion With Paul Dolan – Dolan is the Cleveland Indians Owner and CEO. He discusses the use of Native American names and logos by sports teams and the decisions to drop the Chief Wahoo logo and the upcoming change to the team name. Other baseball topics include health and safety, possible MLB rule changes and youth participation in the sport.
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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.
Episode #8 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Save College Sports From Overcommercialization and Professionalization? – The guest is Dr. David Ridpath, a sports business professor and past president of the Drake Group
Episode #7 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Brain Trauma and CTE Risk in Sports With Dr. Ann McKee – Dr. McKee works in the field of neuropathology and has demonstrated that “mild” repetitive head trauma can provoke chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a devastating neurodegenerative disease.
Episode #6 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Need for Quality Physical Education in Our Schools is Greater Than Ever – The guest is Clayton Ellis, one of our nation’s leading advocates for getting our young people to be more physically active.
Episode #5 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Youth Sports with Positive Coaching Alliance Founder Jim Thompson – Thompson started Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) in 1998 to help create a movement to transform the culture of youth sports from “win-at-all-costs” to a positive, character-building experience.
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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