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 #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, with over 150 camps in 30+ U.S. states and Canada. We discuss problems in youth sports today, including single sport specialization, the growing gap between the “haves” and “have-nots,” the high drop-out rate in competitive sports, and the growing mental health challenges young athletes are dealing with today.
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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.
Episode #23 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Olympian Benita Fitzgerald Mosley Talks Title IX, Youth Sports and the Olympics.
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.
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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