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 #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.” We discuss overzealous adults in youth sports, the dangers of sport specialization, youth sports entrepreneurs and the profit-at-all-costs mindset, and the growing socio-economic gap in youth sports.
Follow on Facebook: @SportsForumPodcast
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.
Episode #22 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Rethinking Sports Fandom with Author Craig Calcaterra – We discuss Calcaterra’s new book “Rethinking Fandom: How to Beat the Sports-Industrial Complex at Its Own Game” and explore new ways to be a fan.
Episode #21 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Chatting About a Broken Game With Baseball Writer Pedro Moura – Moura is a national baseball writer for Fox Sports. We discuss how and why the game of baseball is broken, what factors caused it, and offer a few thoughts on how to “fix” a great game.
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.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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