By Ken Reed
Stand up for something.
In my view, that’s Muhammad Ali’s most important legacy.
Through the years, I agreed with a lot of Ali’s statements and disagreed with others. But I always admired his courage, his bravery, his willingness to seemingly always be true to himself and his convictions in the moment.
“Beginning to end, his most important legacy was that he made us braver,” said former New York Times columnist Robert Lipsyte in a Slate interview following Ali’s passing.
Exactly. Ali taught us all that we don’t have to be — shouldn’t be — robots that all march to the beat of the same drummer. In fact, he taught us that to live one’s life in that way was not only cowardly but unproductive. He showed us that the world doesn’t get better if people don’t stand up for something they believe in deeply.
“I don’t have to be who you want me to be; I’m free to be who I want,” said Ali.
Deep inside, that’s what we all want. To be free to be true to ourselves and our most strongly held beliefs and principles. Yet, most of us, when push comes to shove, fall in line, and mask ourselves, all in the hopes of avoiding rejection from other fearful human beings.
That’s sad. But Ali made us all just a little bit more brave.
“What Muhammad Ali did — in a culture that worships sports and violence as well as a culture that idolizes black athletes while criminalizing black skin — was redefine what it meant to be tough and collectivize the very idea of courage,” wrote sports and politics writer Dave Zirin in an Ali obituary.
“Through the Champ’s words on the streets and deeds in the ring, bravery was not only standing up to Sonny Liston. It was speaking truth to power, no matter the cost.”
Thank you for that lesson Muhammad.
Here’s hoping we all honor Ali’s life by living with a little more Ali-like courage moving forward.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #17 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking Sports With Legendary New York Times Sports Columnist Robert Lipsyte – We chat about Lipsyte’s amazing career and some of the athletes he covered and got to know well, like Muhammad Ali, as well as his relationships with fellow sports journalists like Bob Costas and Howard Cosell.
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Episode #16 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Andrew Maraniss: Outstanding Author of Books That Focus On the Intersection of Sports, History and Social Justice.
Episode #15 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking Sports Psychology with Dr. Tim Rice. We discuss the growth of sports psychology at all levels, the positive impact that a number of high profile athletes have had by opening up, and the importance of everyone involved in sports caring for the whole athlete, mind and body.
Episode #14 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Making Sense of the Injury Pandemic in Major League Baseball – Gary McCoy is a strength, conditioning and high performance coach who has worked with several Major League Baseball organizations.
Episode #13 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Conversation With Long-Time MLB Exec Dan Evans About What’s Right With Baseball and What Could Be Better – Evans is a former general manager for the Los Angeles Dodgers and is currently a consultant for Go the Distance Baseball, which owns the Field of Dreams movie site.
Episode #12 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Fun Chat With Dan Gutman, Author of the Baseball Card Adventure Series for Kids
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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