By Ken Reed
We’ve read quite a bit the last year about Jason Collins becoming the first openly gay basketball player on an NBA roster and Michael Sam being the first openly gay football player drafted by an NFL team. Those were both inspiring stories of courage and the desire to be true to one’s self.
A less well-known — but just as inspiring — story is that of former Nebraska kicker Eric Lueshen. Lueshen was an openly gay kicker for the University of Nebraska Cornhuskers a decade ago. He was bullied and harassed by more than a few teammates.
But fortunately, he was able to become good friends with a couple teammates early on during his stay on the Lincoln campus. Gradually, he was able to win over more and more teammates, who grew to appreciate his courage and authenticity.
It’s a great read and I encourage you to take the time to go through Lueshen’s full account of his years with a major college football program in a very conservative state. It was, of course, a much less open-minded era.
As an advocate for civil rights, social justice, and equal opportunity in sports, I think the biggest takeaway from Lueshen’s story was the importance he placed on straight allies.
“The more straight allies we have standing up for us, the stronger our movement for equal rights becomes,” writes Lueshen.
That’s why organizations like You Can Play and Athlete Ally are so important. Both organizations place a strong emphasis on the importance of straight allies in the march toward a SportsWorld of equality.
For more, see League of Fans’ piece LGBT Athletes Still Facing Harassment and Discrimination.
— 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.
Follow on Facebook: @SportsForumPodcast
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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