By Ken Reed
Shortly before he died, U.S. Rep. and civil rights icon John Lewis said athletes are the new civil rights warriors.
“They have a great deal of influence,” said Lewis of athletes. “Sometimes history and fate just brings things together. And I think that is happening now.”
For decades, many athletes have started foundations and been active in various philanthropic projects. Recently, several athletes have found another way to make the world a better place: impact investing.
Chris Paul of the Phoenix Suns has been one of the most active impact investors. He was frustrated that his pure philanthropic efforts weren’t making the societal impact he was hoping for. He believes “philanthropy can be frustrating” at times.
Paul is one of several athletes, including tennis star Andre Agassi and basketball Hall of Famer Magic Johnson, who have invested in the Turner Multifamily Impact Fund, a type of private-equity fund focused on preserving affordable housing. Other investors in the fund include hedge fund billionaire Bill Ackman, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and actress Eva Longoria.
Paul has also joined fellow athletes Dwayne Wade and Carmelo Anthony in starting The Social Change Fund, which was created to help accelerate social change in communities of color and sustainably build a fair, equitable society. Some significant companies, including Goldman Sachs, are early investors in this fund.
Paul has also joined with fellow NBA players Kyrie Irving and DeAndre Jordan to make significant investments in Beyond Meat, a plant-based food company. Beyond Meat founder and CEO Ethan Brown says Paul’s “willingness to use his platform to make a difference is something that’s been evident to me from the very beginning of our relationship.”
An increasing number of today’s more socially-aware athletes are expecting their investments to lead to meaningful societal progress towards positive environmental, social and governance (ESG) outcomes — and they are willing to help lead the way.
Paul has embraced impact investing because he likes the idea of positively impacting people and the planet while also earning a competitive financial return.
“That’s the fuel we need to bring in investors and reach even more communities and families,” says Paul. “When you combine a positive financial return with positive social impact, you can make a huge difference for people.”
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
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 and got to know well, like Muhammad Ali, as well as his relationships with fellow sports journalists like Bob Costas and Howard Cosell.
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Episode #16 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Andrew Maraniss: Outstanding Author of Books That Focus On the Intersection of Sports, History and Social Justice.
Episode #15 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking Sports Psychology with Dr. Tim Rice. We discuss the growth of sports psychology at all levels, the positive impact that a number of high profile athletes have had by opening up, and the importance of everyone involved in sports caring for the whole athlete, mind and body.
Episode #14 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Making Sense of the Injury Pandemic in Major League Baseball – Gary McCoy is a strength, conditioning and high performance coach who has worked with several Major League Baseball organizations.
Episode #13 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Conversation With Long-Time MLB Exec Dan Evans About What’s Right With Baseball and What Could Be Better – Evans is a former general manager for the Los Angeles Dodgers and is currently a consultant for Go the Distance Baseball, which owns the Field of Dreams movie site.
Episode #12 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Fun Chat With Dan Gutman, Author of the Baseball Card Adventure Series for Kids
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.
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