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 #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 and got to know well, like Muhammad Ali, as well as his relationships with fellow sports journalists like Bob Costas and Howard Cosell.
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Episode #16 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Andrew Maraniss: Outstanding Author of Books That Focus On the Intersection of Sports, History and Social Justice.
Episode #15 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking Sports Psychology with Dr. Tim Rice. We discuss the growth of sports psychology at all levels, the positive impact that a number of high profile athletes have had by opening up, and the importance of everyone involved in sports caring for the whole athlete, mind and body.
Episode #14 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Making Sense of the Injury Pandemic in Major League Baseball – Gary McCoy is a strength, conditioning and high performance coach who has worked with several Major League Baseball organizations.
Episode #13 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Conversation With Long-Time MLB Exec Dan Evans About What’s Right With Baseball and What Could Be Better – Evans is a former general manager for the Los Angeles Dodgers and is currently a consultant for Go the Distance Baseball, which owns the Field of Dreams movie site.
Episode #12 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Fun Chat With Dan Gutman, Author of the Baseball Card Adventure Series for Kids
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.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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.
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