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 #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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