By Ken Reed
As a blanket of cold temperatures covers a big part of the country, it’s fun to read about our warm-weather sport, baseball. Moreover, it warms the heart to read about a baseball player who’s giving back and making a positive difference in the lives of children.
Michael Powell had an outstanding feature about the New York Mets’ Curtis Grandson in the New York Times a few days back. Granderson donated $5 million to his alma mater, the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), to build a baseball complex that includes Little League fields with artificial turf and light towers, as well as a baseball stadium used by the college team and local youth programs. Dozens of African-American youngsters jam the fields in the summer. The baseball complex provides a nice oasis for the youngsters from the turbulent, gang-ridden neighborhoods near UIC.
“We wanted to build a place where these kids could play and get a wider view of life,” Granderson says. “Then we take them on university tours and get a conversation going that they might not have.”
Granderson has won MLB’s Roberto Clemente Award for his outstanding community service and charitable work. His Grand Kids Foundation puts 100% of donations into youth programs. There is no paid staff. He’s also a spokesman for the White House’s efforts to get kids to exercise, lose weight and drink more water, instead of sugary drinks.
Granderson, an African-American, grew up in a mixed-race suburb not too far from the fields he built for UIC and the surrounding neighborhoods. He was a multi-sport star and went to UIC to play baseball and get a degree. When the Detroit Tigers drafted him after his junior year, he signed. But he continued to work on his degree. He wears his socks high to the knee to honor Jackie Robinson and the role he played in integrating baseball. He also uses the fashion statement to pay homage to the stars of the Negro leagues who never made it to Major League Baseball.
Granderson attributes his philanthropic impulses to the example his parents set.
“I watched and absorbed without realizing what it was,” says Granderson. “Slowly I became a part of it.”
Here’s hoping his fellow major leaguers are watching and absorbing Granderson’s off-field efforts.
— 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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