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 #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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