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 #10 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: An Issues Discussion With Paul Dolan – Dolan is the Cleveland Indians Owner and CEO. He discusses the use of Native American names and logos by sports teams and the decisions to drop the Chief Wahoo logo and the upcoming change to the team name. Other baseball topics include health and safety, possible MLB rule changes and youth participation in the sport.
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Episode #9 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking Sports Issues With Ralph Nader – Nader is a consumer advocate and was named one of the “100 Most Influential Americans of the 20th Century” by Time magazine. He is the founder of League of Fans.
Episode #8 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Save College Sports From Overcommercialization and Professionalization? – The guest is Dr. David Ridpath, a sports business professor and past president of the Drake Group
Episode #7 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Brain Trauma and CTE Risk in Sports With Dr. Ann McKee – Dr. McKee works in the field of neuropathology and has demonstrated that “mild” repetitive head trauma can provoke chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a devastating neurodegenerative disease.
Episode #6 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Need for Quality Physical Education in Our Schools is Greater Than Ever – The guest is Clayton Ellis, one of our nation’s leading advocates for getting our young people to be more physically active.
Episode #5 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Youth Sports with Positive Coaching Alliance Founder Jim Thompson – Thompson started Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) in 1998 to help create a movement to transform the culture of youth sports from “win-at-all-costs” to a positive, character-building experience.
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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