By Ken Reed
What former New York Mets general manager did to a female reporter is despicable. He certainly deserved to be fired after admitting to sending dozens of explicit text messages and photos to a female reporter in 2016.
The sad part is almost everyone inside baseball — most notably women in baseball — know this wasn’t an isolated sexual harassment incident. Far from it.
“In my fifth year working in baseball, I’ve lost count of how many sexist comments have been made directly to me while working,” says Deesha Thosar, a Mets reporter for the New York Daily News.
Sure, these type of incidents unfortunately happen in all industries in this society. But they are more prevalent in SportsWorld, which historically has been dominated by males, too many of whom are in a state of arrested development at the adolescent stage. And I’m not just talking about the players.
“It’s so exhausting,” says Molly Knight, a senior writer for The Athletic who has covered baseball for 15 years.
“It’s executives; it’s players; it’s PR people; it’s writers. It’s everywhere. It’s the culture.”
Yes, it’s the culture. Sexual conquest has long been part of the male sports culture, especially in baseball where players spend so much time on the road. To be sure, not everyone in baseball is a sexual predator, far from it.
But this is a cultural issue within the sport that needs to be addressed. Culture change experts say it takes seven years to change a culture, and that’s if the key leaders and influencers in the culture are on board with a comprehensive change effort.
Baseball needs a serious culture change initiative and it needs to be led by commissioner Rob Manfred, and truly embraced by every owner and senior executive in the game. It has to be more than someone from the PR department talking to the players in spring training and saying “These are things you shouldn’t do” while most of the players look at their phones.
Step One should be the appointment of a highly respected woman, who has been in the game for multiple years, to the position of advocate for women in baseball (exact title to be worked out later). This person would be a trusted go-to resource for any woman in the game who is dealing with a sexual harassment problem or a gender discrimination issue of any type.
“You wonder how many people have left the business because they didn’t want to deal with it, especially if they’re young or just starting out,” says Knight. “They might have an incident and think ‘Yep, this is not for me.’”
It’s time for baseball to start extracting itself from the Stone Age.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #22 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Rethinking Sports Fandom with Author Craig Calcaterra – We discuss Calcaterra’s new book “Rethinking Fandom: How to Beat the Sports-Industrial Complex at Its Own Game” and explore new ways to be a fan in the year 2022.
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Episode #21 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Chatting About a Broken Game With Baseball Writer Pedro Moura – Moura is a national baseball writer for Fox Sports. We discuss how and why the game of baseball is broken, what factors caused it, and offer a few thoughts on how to “fix” a great game.
Episode #20 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Coaching Youth and High School Sports Based On What’s Best for the Athlete’s Holistic Development – We chat with long-time youth, high school and college basketball coach Jim Huber.
Episode #19 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Capturing the Spirit of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League with Anika Orrock – We discuss the hoops AAGPFL women had to jump through to play the game they loved as well as the long-term impact and legacy they have in advancing sports opportunities for girls and women.
Episode #18 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking about the 50th Anniversary of Title IX and the Lia Thomas Controversy with Nancy Hogshead-Makar – Hogshead-Makar is a triple gold medalist in swimming, a civil rights attorney and CEO of Champion Women.
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.
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.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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