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 #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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