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


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