By Ken Reed
Micah Porter, a legendary high school track and cross country coach in Colorado, recently announced he’s gay, the first Coloradoan and one of only a handful of gay prep coaches nationally to have taken that step.
Porter’s teams have won four Colorado state championships and he has coached 33 athletes to individual state titles. He has been named Jefferson County (CO) coach-of-the-year 12 times and Colorado state coach of the year once. He’s also been named teacher of the year at D’Evelyn High School, where he teaches in the social studies department and is one of the school’s most popular teachers.
“For the first time in my life, I have a level of happiness and confidence that I have never had,” said Porter. “It’s a leap, and I don’t know where I’m going to land. But I’m in a much better place and happier.”
Porter’s announcement adds to a growing list of positive developments in the battle to eradicate homophobia in sports. This past spring, NBA player Jason Collins came out in a Sports Illustrated cover story. Also, over the course of the last year, many prominent athletes and coaches have publicly aligned with advocacy organizations for LGBT athletes and coaches such as Athlete Ally (See League of Fans article) and You Can Play.
Porter struggled with his decision for several years, suffering from depression during the process.
“I just didn’t have a gay model to go off of, I had no gay friends. … I just decided it was time to break through,” Porter said.
His athletes took the news well.
“Everything is exactly the same as it used to be,” said Jaguars senior Carter Prescott, who is a contender to win the Jefferson County cross country title. “He has always been a role model. He came out and we admired him even more, with all of the strength it takes to deal with it …. He’s just a role model.”
It takes courage for all of us to be true to ourselves. The amount of courage required of gays and lesbians to live authentically in our society is even greater. Now that he’s out and feeling more confident, happy, and energized than he has in years, Porter wants to help and educate others.
“I intend to use this new energy to help athletes and coaches who are struggling with their sexuality as well as educate others about the necessity to be compassionate and tolerant of others different from themselves,” said Porter.
Now that’s an honorable and important mission; helping other athletes and coaches throw off the shackles of an inauthentic life so that they can experience the freedom of being who they are at their core. Porter will be working with the You Can Play project on this educational effort.
“For the first time in a long time, I’ve had people tell me I look happy. For the first time in a long time, I am,” said Porter.
— 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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Ken Reed’s Author Page on Amazon