By Ken Reed
The most heroic thing Caitlyn Jenner has done in her life is to be honest — with herself and the public.
To do so, to let the world know about her sexual identity, must have been incredibly scary for a sports icon (Jenner won the decathlon at the 1976 Olympic Games, earning unofficial “Greatest Athlete in the World” honors) and pop culture celebrity (as part of the Kardashian family). But Jenner decided to walk through her fear before it was too late.
“If I was lying on my deathbed and I had kept this secret and never ever did anything about it, I would be lying there saying, ‘You just blew your entire life. You never dealt with yourself,’ and I don’t want that to happen,” said Jenner in a Vanity Fair piece.
In a great move, ESPN recently announced that Jenner will receive the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the upcoming ESPY Awards show. That’s perfect.
As Dave Zirin said in an excellent column about Jenner, “Arthur Ashe had the courage to show us what it looked like to die without fear. Caitlyn Jenner is demonstrating what it looks like to live the same way.”
Last year, I did a Q&A with transgender professional golfer Bobbi Lancaster. Born Robert Lancaster, Bobbi underwent gender reassignment surgery in 2010. A well-regarded physician in Arizona, she is trying to earn an LPGA tour card while playing on a couple minor league golf tours.
Lancaster is one of the most courageous and inspiring athletes I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing during my career.
One of Lancaster’s hopes is that by living true to herself she can help other athletes, especially young athletes, who are struggling with their sexual identity, to have the courage to live authentically moving forward.
“It is so liberating to live your truth. And so much can be accomplished when a person is finally at peace with him or herself,” said Lancaster.
“One of my key messages when I speak with people is to ‘be true to yourself, to live authentically.’ I think that applies to all of us as human beings, not just those struggling with gender identity. It won’t serve you well, if you’re struggling with certain issues, to hide things, to live closeted. In the long run, you’ll just damage yourself and your relationships.
“My life’s certainly an example. I lived closeted for a long time and I suffered from self-loathing, lack of confidence, a lack of self-respect, etc. Young and old have to hear this message. It’s never too late to get it right, to be true to yourself and follow your dream.”
Here’s hoping Jenner spends the rest of her life spreading a similar message.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #10 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: An Issues Discussion With Paul Dolan – Dolan is the Cleveland Indians Owner and CEO. He discusses the use of Native American names and logos by sports teams and the decisions to drop the Chief Wahoo logo and the upcoming change to the team name. Other baseball topics include health and safety, possible MLB rule changes and youth participation in the sport.
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Episode #9 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking Sports Issues With Ralph Nader – Nader is a consumer advocate and was named one of the “100 Most Influential Americans of the 20th Century” by Time magazine. He is the founder of League of Fans.
Episode #8 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Save College Sports From Overcommercialization and Professionalization? – The guest is Dr. David Ridpath, a sports business professor and past president of the Drake Group
Episode #7 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Brain Trauma and CTE Risk in Sports With Dr. Ann McKee – Dr. McKee works in the field of neuropathology and has demonstrated that “mild” repetitive head trauma can provoke chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a devastating neurodegenerative disease.
Episode #6 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Need for Quality Physical Education in Our Schools is Greater Than Ever – The guest is Clayton Ellis, one of our nation’s leading advocates for getting our young people to be more physically active.
Episode #5 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Youth Sports with Positive Coaching Alliance Founder Jim Thompson – Thompson started Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) in 1998 to help create a movement to transform the culture of youth sports from “win-at-all-costs” to a positive, character-building experience.
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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