By Ken Reed
Due to the immense popularity of college athletics, especially football and basketball, college athletes have always had a great deal of power.
However, until recent years, they haven’t fully realized it, or utilized it.
The latest example comes from the state of Mississippi, where college athletes played a big role in getting state politicians to ban future use of the Confederate emblem in the state flag. Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves signed the bill into law on Tuesday.
Mississippi State running back Kylin Hill led the charge from the Mississippi sports community to remove the racist Confederate emblem from the state flag. He tweeted last week that he was no longer interested in representing any Mississippi institution on the field if the flag wasn’t taken down. He was supported by numerous teammates and head coach Mike Leach.
Players from Ole Miss joined in as well. Then, last Thursday, 46 coaches from eight different Mississippi colleges and universities went to the state Capitol to call for the end of the Confederate-based state flag. The NCAA and SEC also pressured the state legislature by stating that postseason events wouldn’t be held in Mississippi until the flag and its ugly symbolism was removed.
Omeria Scott, a Mississippi congresswoman representing District 80 in the House of Representatives suggested naming the flag change legislation after Hill, saying “the voice of this young man was a tremendous voice” in the flag change process.
Of course, thousands of Mississippians, from all walks of life, including religious and business leaders, have been calling for a flag change for years. But it took the social change uprising following the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis cop, and the actions of Hill, a courageous football player for Mississippi State, to push the effort over the top.
“We can step up,” said Ole Miss defensive end Ryder Anderson. “We can use our voice, use our platform. Together we are really strong. We can really makes stuff happen if we just come together.”
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
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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