What constitutes manhood in sports culture is archaic. As if the sports world has been frozen in time – Neanderthal time
By Ken Reed
What former New York Mets general manager Jared Porter 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 the 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 reporter who covers the Mets for the New York Daily News.
Sure, these types of incidents unfortunately happen in all industries in society. But they are more prevalent in the sports world, which historically has been dominated by males, too many of whom are in a state of arrested development, stuck at the adolescent stage. The understanding of what constitutes manhood in our sports culture as a whole is archaic. It’s as if the sports world has been frozen in time – Neanderthal time.
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. Most aren’t. But this is a cultural issue within the sport that needs to be addressed.
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. 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.
“In sports media, we know that stepping forward could mean the loss of sources or having to leave the beat we’ve reported on for years, so you put up with a general manager asking to go back to your hotel room with you, smiling and firmly telling him no and hoping it doesn’t go any further,” says Shalise Manza Young of Yahoo Sports.
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. This person would be a trusted go-to resource for any woman in the game who’s 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 is sports policy director for League of Fans, a sports reform project. He is the author of The Sports Reformers, Ego vs. Soul in Sports, and How We Can Save Sports.
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #8 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Save College Sports From Overcommercialization and Professionalization? – The guest is Dr. David Ridpath, a sports business professor and past president of the Drake Group, whose mission is to defend academic integrity in higher education from the corrosive aspects of commercialized college sports.
Follow on Facebook: @SportsForumPodcast
Episode #7 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Brain Trauma and CTE Risk in Sports With Dr. Ann McKee – Dr. McKee works in the field of neuropathology and has demonstrated that “mild” repetitive head trauma can provoke chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a devastating neurodegenerative disease.
Episode #6 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Need for Quality Physical Education in Our Schools is Greater Than Ever – The guest is Clayton Ellis, one of our nation’s leading advocates for getting our young people to be more physically active.
Episode #5 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Youth Sports with Positive Coaching Alliance Founder Jim Thompson – Thompson started Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) in 1998 to help create a movement to transform the culture of youth sports from “win-at-all-costs” to a positive, character-building experience.
Episode #4 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Biggest Issue in Sports Today? Brain Trauma – The guest is Patrick Hruby, a journalist who has done extensive research and in-depth writing on the topic of brain trauma in sports, most notably football.
Episode #3 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Coaching Styles with Sports Sociologist Jay Coakley – The guest is veteran sports sociologist Jay Coakley, a former college athlete who went on to earn a Ph.D. in Sociology from Notre Dame.
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.
Order from Amazon
Order from Amazon
Order from Amazon
Ken Reed’s Author Page on Amazon