By Ken Reed
Mary Pilon has a great long piece in Esquire about former NBA player Royce White and his ongoing battle with the NBA over how the league treats players with mental illness challenges.
White currently plays in the National Basketball League of Canada for the London Lightning. He appreciates how the Canadians address his mental health issues, even if he makes a lot less money playing in the NBL. White believes he’s already lost tens of millions in wages because of his stance on the NBA’s unenlightened approach to mental illness.
The salary cap in the Canadian league is $150,000 Canadian dollars (about $110,000 U.S.), a fraction of the NBA’s minimum $543,471. White’s decision not to return to the NBA has baffled many in the basketball world. But the Canadians offered something more valuable than money, White says: a robust mental health care system for players.
White is very public about his call for the NBA to develop a comprehensive mental-health treatment plan. He says he won’t go back to the NBA until it happens. His beef with the NBA all along has been that the league simply ignores the topic of mental illness.
“I find it offensive that they don’t feel that they are more than a sports league,” says White of the NBA.
“They tell the players to ‘represent yourself, your family, your community, this organization, in a way that you’d be proud of.’ So that lets me know you understand it’s bigger than the game, bigger than four quarters, bigger than practice, bigger than the training you do. It’s bigger than the money you make.”
Meanwhile, he’s happy playing in the NBL because he’s happy about how he’s treated by Canadians, the league and his coach, Kyle Julius.
“It was like treating anything else, like an injury or any issue,” says Julius of the Lightning’s philosophy on mental illness.
That seems like it would be a common-sense, humanistic approach to mental illness, but it appears to be way too progressive for the NBA at this point.
— 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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