By Ken Reed
Sportsworld, perhaps the last bastion of pure unadulterated homophobia in American culture, had its closet door kicked slightly ajar in May when NBA player Jason Collins became the first active, openly gay athlete to come out in one of the four major American team sports leagues.
In a poignant letter in Sports Illustrated, Collins wrote about his journey and the reasons he decided to come out when he did.
“I didn’t set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport, ” wrote Collins. “But since I am, I’m happy to start the conversation. … Openness may not completely disarm prejudice, but it’s a good place to start.”
However, summer has come and gone and Collins remains an unsigned free agent as NBA camps get set to open in a couple weeks. San Francisco Chronicle columnist Bruce Jenkins had this take on Collins’ current situation:
It was widely assumed he’d land somewhere as an unrestricted free agent to continue his career. Four months later, the wait drags on. The league faces unflattering introspection and a public-relations disaster if Collins goes unsigned. The gay community will not hide its extreme disappointment. The first step in a highly significant movement will be throttled before takeoff.
The consensus of NBA insiders is that Collins can still play. He remains a strong defender, rebounder and imposing big man presence. He’s not starter material but could certainly help a team off the bench.
Here’s hoping Collins’ is signed by some NBA team in the coming days. Being an active NBA player this season would give more gay and lesbian athletes — of all ages and abilities — the courage to come out and be true to themselves.
— 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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