By Ken Reed
John Wooden and others have been quoted as saying, “Sport doesn’t build character, it reveals it.”
I believe this to be true and what it reveals is both good and bad, the best and worst of human beings.
What was revealed in Sports World last week was some of the dark side of the human condition.
Let’s start in Chicago where the Blackhawks made the surprising decision to hold a Patrick Kane bobblehead night on January 24th. The first 10,000 fans attending the Blackhawks game that night will be given a free Kane bobblehead.
What? This guy is under investigation for sexual assault in his home this past summer! Couldn’t the Blackhawks brass put the Kane bobblehead giveaway on hold until the legal process plays out? Couldn’t they have held a bobblehead night for another Blackhawks player on January 24th? Perhaps a player not under police investigation for allegedly committing rape?
Does being a superstar athlete trump everything in the minds of Blackhawks executives?
The team’s decision is wrong on so many fronts but at its core the move reveals a lack of basic human decency.
Speaking of basic human decency, or the lack thereof, presidential candidate Jeb Bush revealed that he’s woefully low in this area when he came out in support of Daniel Snyder’s decision to maintain the Washington Redskins’ racist nickname. Here’s the Jebster:
“I don’t think it should change it … I don’t find it offensive … It’s a sport, for crying out loud. It’s a football team. Washington has a huge fan base — I’m missing something here, I guess.”
Yes, you’re missing something Jeb. You’re missing the negative impact a racist brand — in our nation’s capital nonetheless — has on our culture. Redskins is a derogatory term that is historically linked with the scalping of Native American heads.
Snyder’s team plays in the NFL. The NFL got some good news this week … well, it was good news in a back-handed way. September apparently was the first calendar month in six years that the NFL didn’t have an employee arrested.
Start the celebration! Yes, it’s nice that we can go a month without a Ray Rice-type story, but doesn’t it say something about the league if the scoreboard is 71-1 in favor of months with an arrest vs. months without one?
Finally, let’s end with this week’s latest revelation: Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino is accused of providing sex escorts to recruits in a new book. According to the book, “Breaking Cardinal Rules: Basketball and the Escort Queen,” Pitino’s director of basketball operations regularly provided strippers and prostitutes to recruits during campus visits.
Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich said, “We talk all the time. He’s my basketball coach. He wouldn’t condone this, either. He has a perfect track record.”
Let’s hope this coming week brings better news from Sports World.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #32 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Prolific Author Joe Posnanski Joins the Show – Posnanski is one of America’s best sportswriters and has twice been named the best sports columnist in America by the Associated Press Sports Editors. We chat about his new book, “Why We Love Baseball,” his new Substack newsletter called Joe Blogs, and we cover topics including how baseball treats its fans, MLB’s numerous rule changes this past season, how the sport can become more fan-friendly, the greatness of Negro Leagues champion Buck O’Neil, and much more.
Follow on Facebook: @SportsForumPodcast
Episode #31 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Foul Ball Safety Is Still an Important Issue at Ballparks – Our guests are Jordan Skopp, founder of FoulBallSafety.com and Greg Wilkowski, a Chicago based attorney. We discuss the historical problem of foul balls injuring fans and why some teams are still hesitant to put up protective netting in some minor league and college baseball parks.
Episode #30 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The State of College Athletics with Dr. David Ridpath: Problems and Potential Solutions – Ridpath is a sports administration professor at Ohio University and a member of The Drake Group, a college sports reform think tank.
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. We discuss the state of college athletics today.
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.
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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