By Ken Reed
For years, SportsWorld was a male-only bastion. Sports were in effect a private party for males. That private party has slowly — very slowly — been crashed since the 1970’s when Title IX became law and female journalists first began covering the major pro sports leagues.
This past weekend, Vanderbilt’s Sarah Fuller achieved another first for women in sports: the first female to play in a Power Five college football game. That came not long after Kim Ng became the first professional female general manager in the big four American sports leagues when the Miami Marlins hired her to run their baseball operations department.
“I just had a few days to learn how to do this,” said Fuller, who was Vanderbilt’s kicker against Missouri. She is also a star goalie on the Vanderbilt women’s soccer team. “At first, there wasn’t a lot of pressure … I was just proud I was able to step out there and do that and represent female athletes.”
Last Sunday, The Cleveland Browns named Callie Brownson their interim tight ends coach, making her the first female position coach in NFL history.
It’s impossible to measure the impact breakthroughs like Ng’s, Brownson’s and Fuller’s will have on young girls who love sports.
“It’s hard to put into words what (Fuller’s) kick represented,” said Emily Zaler, an assistant strength and conditioning coach for the Denver Broncos. “It was more than a kick.”
More than a kick indeed.
“It was validation for so many women,” said Samantha Rapoport, the NFL’s senior director of diversity, equality and inclusion.
Pioneers like Ng, Brownson, Fuller and Rapoport didn’t have female role models to look up to when they were young girls wondering if it was possible for women to have careers in sports.
What Ng, Brownson and Fuller accomplished in recent weeks will hopefully signal to young sports-loving girls that anything is possible today when it comes to careers in sports for women.
“The more they see it,” Zaler said, “the more they believe.”
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #6 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Need for Quality Physical Education in Our Schools is Greater Than Ever – The guest is Clayton Ellis, a SHAPE America board member, former national physical education teacher of the year, and one of our nation’s leading advocates for getting our young people to be more physically active.
Episode #5 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Youth Sports with Positive Coaching Alliance Founder Jim Thompson – Thompson started Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) in 1998 to help create a movement to transform the culture of youth sports from “win-at-all-costs” to a positive, character-building experience.
Episode #4 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Biggest Issue in Sports Today? Brain Trauma – The guest is Patrick Hruby, a journalist who has done extensive research and in-depth writing on the topic of brain trauma in sports, most notably football.
Episode #3 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Coaching Styles with Sports Sociologist Jay Coakley – The guest is veteran sports sociologist Jay Coakley, a former college athlete who went on to earn a Ph.D. in Sociology from Notre Dame.
Episode #2 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: College & High School Athletics: Where Do We Go From Here? The guest is John Gerdy, a former college athlete and NCAA and SEC administrator who became a sports reformer later in his career.
Episode #1: The inaugural episode of League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast. The topic is Title IX and equal opportunity in sports. The guest is long-time Title IX and civil rights activist Donna Lopiano.
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.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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.
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