By Gerry Chidiac
One of the most important qualities of a good leader is the ability to listen. It is very easy to jump on a bandwagon and it is easy to jump to conclusions. It takes true courage to hear another person’s point of view, admit we were wrong, shift our beliefs and move forward.
To be honest, my first reaction to National Football League commissioner Roger Goodell issuing a statement regarding his changed sentiments toward the Black Lives Matter movement was quite cynical.
Only four years ago, Colin Kaepernick chose to kneel during the playing of the National Anthem to draw attention to the issue of police brutality toward African Americans. This resulted in Kaepernick essentially being blackballed by Goodell’s league. Now you say that you support his cause, Mr. Goodell? And you expect us to take you seriously?
The same can be said for Drew Brees, the star quarterback for the New Orleans Saints. Brees had always objected to peaceful protest by other players, saying that it disrespected the American flag. He even made comments opposing their actions after the death of George Floyd.
Brees then listened to his African American teammates and has since apologized for his statements. After receiving strong criticism for this in Tweets from Donald Trump, Brees replied, “I realize this is not an issue about the American flag. It never has been.”
Perhaps prominent people like Goodell and Brees are not just trying to look good for the media. Maybe we are finally able to cut through the noise and rhetoric. This is a moment like none other I have ever experienced. It appears that the truth is finally coming clear.
As a teacher, I relate this to seeing a concept become understandable to a student. I can vary the way I teach trigonometry to meet the learning needs of my students. I can draw diagrams, make models or sing loud obnoxious songs. When a student says, “I got it! SOH, CAH, TOA!” It is a moment of enlightenment, and suddenly one can begin moving forward.
Up until now, we’ve been using the wrong formula to solve our problems. We’ve been trying to do trigonometry without understanding the characteristics of a triangle. We’ve been trying to solve social problems by chasing a racist narrative. When certain groups have higher levels of incarceration, unemployment and poverty along with lower levels of education and life expectancy, you don’t improve the situation by cutting educational and social programs, putting more people into jail and painting a racist narrative in the media. But that is what we have done for decades, even centuries.
The great American scholar Cornel West points out that we always have a choice between chaos and community. Until now, we have chosen chaos.
The solution is community. We are all in this together, we are not our nationalities, ethnicities or genders, we are a global community.
It has been so encouraging to hear people finally say, “Black lives matter.” We don’t only look at our American neighbors when we say this, we recognize that all over the world, people of color have been unjustly treated for far too long. It has been so refreshing to see symbols of oppression, including statues of men who were responsible for some of the most horrendous crimes against humanity in history, like King Leopold II of Belgium, finally removed from places of honor.
I’d like to believe that the world has really listened and has come to a moment of enlightenment.
The proof will be shown as we move forward.
— Gerry Chidiac is a Canadian educator and a columnist for Troy Media.
Sports Forum Podcast
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, with over 150 camps in 30+ U.S. states and Canada. We discuss problems in youth sports today, including single sport specialization, the growing gap between the “haves” and “have-nots,” the high drop-out rate in competitive sports, and the growing mental health challenges young athletes are dealing with today.
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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.
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.”
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.
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.
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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Ken Reed’s Author Page on Amazon