By Ken Reed
“Best Decision I Have Ever Made”
Mason Darrow was terrified. He wasn’t afraid of failing a class, losing a parent, or what a doctor’s diagnosis might be. He was afraid to be himself.
Darrow is a 6’5″, 285 lb. offensive lineman for NCAA Division I member Princeton University. He’s also gay. But he didn’t want to tell anyone about it, let alone his teammates.
“I felt like I had to keep appearances up,” says Darrow in an excellent piece by Cyd Zeigler. “I didn’t want to arouse suspicion that I might be gay, so I went along with the flow and did what I thought was expected of me.”
Thanks to a fellow Princeton offensive lineman named Caleb Slate, Darrow found the courage to begin living an authentic life. Slate noticed that Darrow was in a somber mood one day at practice and kept asking Darrow what was wrong. Darrow wasn’t ready to talk.
“I felt trapped,” says Darrow. “I wasn’t happy. I wanted to tell people, but I thought there would be a lot of animosity.”
But Slate kept digging. He wanted to know what was eating at his teammate and friend. Finally, Darrow felt comfortable enough to tell Slate the truth.
“I knew at that point I didn’t want to be closeted my entire time here,” says Darrow. “I knew this had to happen eventually, so it might as well happen now. Might as well rip off the Band-Aid.”
Slate was cool with the news and told Darrow his other teammates would be too.
“The only prerequisite to being on a football team is that you work hard,” Slate assured his teammate. “This isn’t going to bother people if you tell them.”
Darrow felt a surge of relief and freedom that continued to grow as he told more people.
He’s now decided to go public with his story because he thinks it might help other gay athletes come out and be true to themselves.
His message to closeted gay athletes who are as terrified as he once was:
“It’s not as scary as it seems … Telling my teammates was the best decision I have ever made.”
— 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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