By Ken Reed
Arian Foster might just be the NFL’s most interesting man.
Foster is a different cat in the homogeneous NFL. And being different is always tough, especially in an industry that values conformity, like professional sports.
Foster is a thinker and he likes to speak about what he’s thinking about. That in and of itself makes him pretty unique in the NFL, where athletes that speak out on socio-cultural issues are quickly squashed by teammates, coaches, executives, or all three.
What makes Foster even more interesting is that what he often speaks out about are his beliefs as an atheist. This has led to him being ostracized on occasion throughout his football career.
“Everybody always says the same thing: You have to have faith,” says Foster.
“That’s my whole thing: Faith isn’t enough for me. For people who are struggling with that, they’re nervous about telling their families or afraid of the backlash … man, don’t be afraid to be you. I was, for years.”
Foster could be viewed as the anti-Tebow. Tim Tebow, now with the Philadelphia Eagles, has made waves throughout his career for his strong Christianity beliefs and actions. Tebow, while receiving scorn from some quarters, was generally praised for his outspoken public statements about his faith. The NFL has long been viewed as a “God and Country” league.
Foster is likely to meet much greater resistance than Tebow has due to his statements.
Nevertheless, the overarching point here is that both Tebow and Foster, and their views, should be met with tolerance in a free society in which the First Amendment is cherished.
Foster has taken a “live and let live” philosophy in recent years. He’s comfortable in his own skin and holds no ill will towards people of faith.
“If a loving, kind Christian, Muslim or Jewish person can’t accept a different vantage point, there’s just nothing I can do about it,” Foster says. “I have no ill will toward religion or religious people. I have no quarrels. Believe what you want to believe.”
Both Tebow and Foster have exhibited a lot of courage by being true to themselves and sharing their religious opinions.
It’s for that courage that both should be applauded.
— 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.
Follow on Facebook: @SportsForumPodcast
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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