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 #17 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking Sports With Legendary New York Times Sports Columnist Robert Lipsyte – We chat about Lipsyte’s amazing career and some of the athletes he covered and got to know well, like Muhammad Ali, as well as his relationships with fellow sports journalists like Bob Costas and Howard Cosell.
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Episode #16 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Andrew Maraniss: Outstanding Author of Books That Focus On the Intersection of Sports, History and Social Justice.
Episode #15 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking Sports Psychology with Dr. Tim Rice. We discuss the growth of sports psychology at all levels, the positive impact that a number of high profile athletes have had by opening up, and the importance of everyone involved in sports caring for the whole athlete, mind and body.
Episode #14 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Making Sense of the Injury Pandemic in Major League Baseball – Gary McCoy is a strength, conditioning and high performance coach who has worked with several Major League Baseball organizations.
Episode #13 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Conversation With Long-Time MLB Exec Dan Evans About What’s Right With Baseball and What Could Be Better – Evans is a former general manager for the Los Angeles Dodgers and is currently a consultant for Go the Distance Baseball, which owns the Field of Dreams movie site.
Episode #12 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Fun Chat With Dan Gutman, Author of the Baseball Card Adventure Series for Kids
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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