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 #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, with over 150 camps in 30+ U.S. states and Canada. We discuss problems in youth sports today, including single sport specialization, the growing gap between the “haves” and “have-nots,” the high drop-out rate in competitive sports, and the growing mental health challenges young athletes are dealing with today.
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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.
Episode #24 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Mental Health and Athletes: Ending the Stigma – Nathan Braaten and Taylor Ricci are the founders of Dam Worth It, a non-profit created to end the stigma around mental health at colleges and universities through sport, storytelling, and community creation.
Episode #23 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Olympian Benita Fitzgerald Mosley Talks Title IX, Youth Sports and the Olympics.
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.
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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