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 #22 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Rethinking Sports Fandom with Author Craig Calcaterra – We discuss Calcaterra’s new book “Rethinking Fandom: How to Beat the Sports-Industrial Complex at Its Own Game” and explore new ways to be a fan in the year 2022.
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Episode #21 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Chatting About a Broken Game With Baseball Writer Pedro Moura – Moura is a national baseball writer for Fox Sports. We discuss how and why the game of baseball is broken, what factors caused it, and offer a few thoughts on how to “fix” a great game.
Episode #20 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Coaching Youth and High School Sports Based On What’s Best for the Athlete’s Holistic Development – We chat with long-time youth, high school and college basketball coach Jim Huber.
Episode #19 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Capturing the Spirit of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League with Anika Orrock – We discuss the hoops AAGPFL women had to jump through to play the game they loved as well as the long-term impact and legacy they have in advancing sports opportunities for girls and women.
Episode #18 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking about the 50th Anniversary of Title IX and the Lia Thomas Controversy with Nancy Hogshead-Makar – Hogshead-Makar is a triple gold medalist in swimming, a civil rights attorney and CEO of Champion Women.
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.
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.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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