By Ken Reed

I see my overarching mission as trying to enhance the positives and mitigate the negatives in sports. That said, I tend to address the problems and issues in sports more than talking about what’s working when sports are at their best.

The negatives in sports are driven by ego and greed and lead to win-at-all-costs (WAAC) and profit-at-all-costs (PAAC) thinking, policies and actions. When WAAC or PAAC is driving the bus, sports can be ugly and unjust.

On the other hand, at their best, sports are one of the purest aspects of life, and often a window into the human spirit. When sports are driven by the soul and not the ego, you get beautiful displays of sportsmanship and fair play, along with amazing efforts that test the limits of athletes physically, mentally and emotionally.

And you get stories like Lauren Hill’s.

Lauren was a high school student preparing for her first year of college when she got the news that she had an inoperable brain tumor. That’s when her soul took over. She dropped all the petty and shallow ego-based concerns that take too much time from our lives and focused on living in the present, living life to its fullest, and helping other people.

Sadly, Lauren Hill died Friday morning. But what a life she led her last year and a half on this planet. She acknowledged her tumor but didn’t let it determine how she’d spend her final months. She started a non-profit foundation that’s raised $1.5 million for cancer research. She continued with her plans to play basketball at Mt. Saint Joseph University and set a goal of scoring one basket in a college game. Last Nov. 2nd, she scored two buckets in front of 10,000 people who squeezed into a basketball arena to cheer for Lauren Hill and the beautiful spirit they saw in her.

“She’s made an impact on the world, more so than me — more than I will ever do,” said her coach Dan Benjamin. “I’ve gotten so many emails and phone calls from all over the world. People are contacting me because they want to share her story.”

What an amazing example of how to live and die. Lauren Hill lived life to the fullest and helped people along the way. A heroic legacy to be sure.

“I’m spreading awareness and also teaching people how to live in the moment because the next moment’s not promised,” Hill told the Associated Press after one of her team’s practices. “Anything can happen at any given moment. What matters is right now.”

To honor Lauren Hill’s memory, we should all try to do our best — one day at a time — to heed this powerful lesson she taught, not only with her words but especially through her actions.

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


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