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 #30 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The State of College Athletics with Dr. David Ridpath: Problems and Potential Solutions – Ridpath is a sports administration professor at Ohio University and a long-time member of The Drake Group, a college sports reform think tank.
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Episode #29 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Honorable Tom McMillen Visits League of Fans’ Sports Forum – McMillen is a former All-American basketball player, Olympian, Rhodes Scholar and U.S. Congressman. We discuss the state of college athletics today.
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. We discuss problems in youth sports today.
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.
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.
- Reed Appears on Ralph Nader Radio Hour League of Fans’ sports policy director, Ken Reed, Ralph Nader and the New York Times’ Tyler Kepner discussed a variety of sports issues on Nader’s radio show as well as Reed’s updated book, How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan. Reed's book was released in paperback in February, and has a new introduction and several updated sections.
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