By Ken Reed
Yesterday was the 50th anniversary of the first bibbed female runner in the Boston Marathon. For decades, the Boston Marathon was for men only. Katherine Switzer said that’s ridiculous and entered the race in 1967 under the name K.V. Switzer.
Early on, the co-race director, Jock Temple discovered her running in the marathon and tried to shove her off the course while also attempting to pull her bib number off. Switzer’s boyfriend gave Temple a vicious shoulder block and the 20-year-old Switzer was able to continue and finish the race at a time in history when women were thought to be too fragile for long-distance running (and many other sports for that matter).
Switzer finished the race in 4:20 that chilly spring day. Monday, at age 70, Switzer ran the Boston Marathon again in 4:44:31. She’s competed in 30 marathons during her life, winning New York in 1974 in 3:07:29. She hadn’t run the Boston race since 1976. But she started the Boston Marathon yesterday with the same bib number she used in 1967: 261. That number was retired after she finished yesterday — just the second number retired by the Boston Marathon.
Switzer credits her father for providing early inspiration for her sports career:
“I’ll never forget, I came home from school one day and said to my parents, ‘I’m going to be a high school cheerleader next year when I go to high school.’ And without missing a beat, my father said, ‘You don’t want to be a cheerleader. Cheerleaders cheer for other people. You want people to cheer for you. The game is on the field. Life is to participate, not to spectate.’”
Switzer’s father made it very clear that his daughter could do anything — and become anything — her heart and mind desired — sports-wise, career-wise, and other-wise. His core message: Don’t EVER let your gender stop you!
Check out the very cool 6-minute video on Katherine Switzer and what she did for girls and women 50 years ago (including shots of the race director trying to knock her off the course). She’s interviewed by former Team USA soccer star Julie Foudy, another Title IX hero, in this ESPN feature.
This story’s something both genders can cheer about: Equal opportunity.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
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.” We discuss overzealous adults in youth sports, the dangers of sport specialization, youth sports entrepreneurs and the profit-at-all-costs mindset, and the growing socio-economic gap in youth sports.
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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.
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.
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.
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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