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 #32 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Prolific Author Joe Posnanski Joins the Show – Posnanski is one of America’s best sportswriters and has twice been named the best sports columnist in America by the Associated Press Sports Editors. We chat about his new book, “Why We Love Baseball,” his new Substack newsletter called Joe Blogs, and we cover topics including how baseball treats its fans, MLB’s numerous rule changes this past season, how the sport can become more fan-friendly, the greatness of Negro Leagues champion Buck O’Neil, and much more.
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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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