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 #29 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Honorable Tom McMillen Visits League of Fans’ Sports Forum – McMillen is a former All-American basketball player, Olympian, Rhodes Scholar and U.S. Congressman, and has a long involvement with the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sport (now called the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition). We discuss the state of college athletics today, given the pressures of NIL, the transfer portal, sports gambling and huge media contracts. McMillen then provides great perspective on the poor state of physical fitness our young people are experiencing today.
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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. We discuss problems in youth sports today.
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.
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.
- Reed Appears on Ralph Nader Radio Hour League of Fans’ sports policy director, Ken Reed, Ralph Nader and the New York Times’ Tyler Kepner discussed a variety of sports issues on Nader’s radio show as well as Reed’s updated book, How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan. Reed's book was released in paperback in February, and has a new introduction and several updated sections.
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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Ken Reed’s Author Page on Amazon