By Ken Reed
There are a lot of political and economic issues involving the Olympics that are upsetting, but there are also several reasons I love watching the various athletic competitions.
One, learning about the many inspiring stories of athletes overcoming adversity to compete at the highest level — whether they medal or not. Two, watching elite athletes continue to push the boundaries of what’s physically possible. And three, witnessing the powerful moments of sportsmanship that happen every four years during the Olympics. This year’s men’s high jump competition included all three.
Italian jumper Gianmarco Tamberi and Qatari jumper Mutaz Essa Barshim were deadlocked in first place at 2.37 meters. (Tamberi was seen applauding for Barshim when he cleared 2.37.) They each missed their three tries at 2.39 meters. So, the high jump official told them they could continue with a jump-off to determine the winner and gold medal recipient. Barshim asked the official if they could each get a gold medal. When the official said yes, Barshim and Tamberi looked at each other and seemed to non-verbally agree that was what they wanted. The official asked Tamberi if he was okay with sharing the gold and Tamberi responded with a scream, jumped into Barshim’s arms and then started running around the track. Barshim, smiling, walked over to his supporters, hugged several of them and began to weep. (The video is a must-watch. Reading about it doesn’t do the scene justice.)
Tamberi couldn’t compete in the 2016 Rio Games due to an ankle injury but he was determined to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics. After the competition, he held a cast from the ankle injury that he had used for inspiration for the last five years. On it was written “Road to Tokyo.” The year 2020 was crossed out and replaced with 2021.
The 2021 Tokyo Games men’s high jump competition not only represents best-in-the-world athleticism but world-class sportsmanship as well. In the spirit of true competition, both athletes pushed each other to their limits and then embraced.
Well done gentlemen. Well done.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
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, and has a long involvement with the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sport (now called the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition). We discuss the state of college athletics today, given the pressures of NIL, the transfer portal, sports gambling and huge media contracts. McMillen then provides great perspective on the poor state of physical fitness our young people are experiencing today.
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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.
Episode #26 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Fix Youth Sports? – John O’Sullivan is Founder and CEO of Changing the Game Project and author of “Changing the Game: The Parents Guide to Raising Happy, High Performing Athletes and Giving Youth Sports Back to Our Kids.”
Episode #25 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Physical Education Should Be a Critical Component of K-12 School Design – Michael Horn is co-founder of the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation.
Episode #24 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Mental Health and Athletes: Ending the Stigma – Nathan Braaten and Taylor Ricci are the founders of Dam Worth It, a non-profit created to end the stigma around mental health at colleges and universities through sport, storytelling, and community creation.
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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