By Ken Reed
It’s the season of sacrifice, of helping and serving others, of gifts and acts of kindness that can never be repaid.
Former MLB commissioner, Fay Vincent, recently shared a personal story in that vein, a story filled with the human spirit.
Vincent fell off the ledge outside his dorm window as a college freshman while trying to escape from his fourth-floor room after his buddy locked him inside as a prank. He broke his back and was paralyzed.
After several operations and five months in a hospital, Vincent came home to New Haven, Conn. It was then that famous Yale swimming coach Bob Kiphuth came to visit. He came to encourage Vincent and see how he might aid in his recovery.
A recovery plan was hatched. Kiphuth would come to the Yale gym early every day during the summer of 1957 and open it up to help Vincent go through a rigorous rehab routine that he had created. Ever so slowly, Vincent began to improve.
“Bob taught me the priceless lesson of determination even in the face of poor odds,” wrote Vincent.
“I simply had to keep working hard even if progress seemed uncertain. Bob gave brief sermons on why the health of the body was so vital. He wanted me to do my best with what I had — though he never acknowledged my limitations. We slowly grew to realize my improvement would be limited. Then he subtly helped me realize I would have to accept what could not be changed.”
Vincent would never run again. He accepted that his dream of playing baseball or football wouldn’t come to fruition. Instead, he threw himself into the life of the mind. Eventually, Vincent was able to walk again, at a slow pace. He became a partner in a top law firm, chairman of Columbia Pictures and the commissioner of Major League Baseball. Kiphuth went on to win more than 500 dual meets and coach a United States swim team at five Olympic Games. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1963.
“[T]hat summer with Bob Kiphuth was a magnificent gift,” wrote Vincent. “My success reflected my time with him.”
The Vincent-Kiphuth story is a great example of how one human being can help another. And it’s a nice story to reflect upon during this holiday season.
— 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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