By Ken Reed
I’ve always thought we lost one of our best thinkers, best public servants, and best patriots when Robert F. Kennedy was killed.
It would be interesting to hear what RFK would have to say about Colin Kaepernick’s controversial sit-down-for-the-anthem. Who knows what his thoughts might actually be, but there is an RFK quote that’s relevant in this situation:
“The sharpest criticism often goes hand in hand with the deepest idealism and love of country.”
To me, patriotism is loving your country so much that you’re willing to make a lot of personal sacrifices in order to criticize what’s wrong in your country and to work to make it a better place for all citizens.
However, for a lot of people in our country, patriotism seems to mean falling in line behind the powers to be, whether they be government leaders, military leaders or even corporate leaders. To these folks, patriotism is unabashed support of those in charge, no matter what.
I wrote at The Huffington Post the other day that I think Kaepernick is indeed a patriot. It would’ve been a lot simpler — personally, professionally and economically — for Kaepernick to keep his opinions to himself and go along to get along. Well, he had the courage — more courage than most Americans — to stand up for something bigger than himself. To stand up for something that he strongly believes in.
Unfortunately, a significant portion of the American populace has responded to Kaepernick’s actions in a very ugly way.
If you don’t like Kaepernick or his stance, fine. Stand up and state your beliefs in the great American marketplace of ideas. But also be thankful that thousands of men and women have sacrificed their lives to give us the right, and freedom, to debate the Kaepernick issue openly.
I still think Evelyn Beatrice Hall’s famous quote provides the most patriotic way to respond to Kaepernick if you disagree with him: “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.”
Yes, defend to the death his right to say it and then state — respectfully — what your belief is.
That’s America at its best. And that is what all of those brave soldiers who died defending the symbol that represents America died for.
It’s called the First Amendment.
— 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.
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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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