By Ken Reed
MLB Network is currently running a documentary about Billy Bean, the former Major League Baseball player who quit the game at age 30 in order to live a more authentic life as a gay man.
The one-hour documentary is very well done. Bean himself narrates it and he comes off as a very intelligent and perceptive human being. The documentary tugs at your heart multiple times as you ride Bean’s emotional roller coaster.
As a society, we’ve made progress on the issue of equity and fairness for gays and lesbians. A clear example is that in 1999, when Bean retired from baseball as an active player, not a single state allowed same-sex marriage. Today, same-sex marriage is legal in 37 states.
Progress in the sports world has been a little slower, as Will Leitch pointed out in a recent column for SportsOnEarth. Despite Jason Collins playing a few games last year in the NBA as the first openly gay athlete in one of the four major professional sports in the United States, and Michael Sam, a former SEC defensive player of the year, spending time on a couple NFL practice squads, we have a long ways to go.
“It’s better than it was in 1999,” wrote Leitch. “But it’s not good enough. That’s why Bean is here. That’s why he’s the point of reference. And that’s why we all need to listen.”
Bud Selig has helped us hear Bean’s message. In one of his final acts as commissioner of Major League Baseball, Selig named Billy Bean baseball’s Ambassador for Inclusion.
It was a great move and it certainly seems like he couldn’t have picked a better person.
In the preface to the new edition of his book, Going the Other Way, Bean talked about his new position in baseball.
“It’s a bittersweet development to be sure, after I’d sacrificed so much,” wrote Bean. “But it’s also an opportunity even bigger than a superstar’s contract. It’s a chance to make this great game better than ever, and to help others like me in the process.”
Each time Bean delivers is powerful message of “equity and fairness” humankind is enhanced, if even just a little bit.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
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 in the year 2022.
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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.
Episode #20 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Coaching Youth and High School Sports Based On What’s Best for the Athlete’s Holistic Development – We chat with long-time youth, high school and college basketball coach Jim Huber.
Episode #19 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Capturing the Spirit of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League with Anika Orrock – We discuss the hoops AAGPFL women had to jump through to play the game they loved as well as the long-term impact and legacy they have in advancing sports opportunities for girls and women.
Episode #18 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking about the 50th Anniversary of Title IX and the Lia Thomas Controversy with Nancy Hogshead-Makar – Hogshead-Makar is a triple gold medalist in swimming, a civil rights attorney and CEO of Champion Women.
Episode #17 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking Sports With Legendary New York Times Sports Columnist Robert Lipsyte – We chat about Lipsyte’s amazing career and some of the athletes he covered.
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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