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
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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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