By Ken Reed
The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) has decided to suspend its tennis tournaments in China over how Chinese government leaders are treating star doubles tennis player Peng Shuai following Shuai’s recent social media post accusing China’s former Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli of sexually assaulting her. The social media post was pulled down by Chinese officials and China has blocked the topic on its internet system. The Chinese government has not commented on her accusation and has not allowed WTA leaders to communicate with her. Supposedly, she’s had a couple calls with International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach, but no video or transcripts of those calls have been released and the concern is they’ve been staged calls orchestrated by the Chinese government.
The WTA’s decision to suspend its tournaments in China is an expensive one, but a principled one.
“We’ve had a lot success over there [in China],” said WTA CEO Steve Simon. “I think that when you look at this, though, there are too many times in our world today when we get into issues like this and we let business, politics, money dictate what’s right and what’s wrong,” explained Simon.
“We have to start, as a world, making decisions that are based upon right and wrong, period. We can’t compromise that and we are definitely willing to pull our business [with China] and deal with all the complications that come with it because this is certainly bigger than the business.”
Wow, in a world in which the NBA caves to China to preserve business interests despite Chinese human rights abuses and ongoing genocide; and a world in which star hoopster LeBron James, an outspoken voice on some social justice issues, keeps silent on Chinese abuses because his major sponsor, Nike, has sweat shops with abusive labor practices in China; the stance taken by Simon is both shocking and very commendable.
We are in the middle of the holiday season, a time in which we are reminded to put the wellbeing of other people above selfishness and greed. Holiday movies tell us principles should matter more than profits. In this year, the 75th anniversary of the release of the classic holiday movie It’s a Wonderful Life, we are encouraged to be more like the humanitarian George Bailey and less like the greedy Mr. Potter.
In today’s world, the WTA is acting a lot more like George Bailey than Mr. Potter.
Too bad the NBA, Nike and LeBron James seem to have a lot more Mr. Potter in them.
Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
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, with over 150 camps in 30+ U.S. states and Canada. We discuss problems in youth sports today, including single sport specialization, the growing gap between the “haves” and “have-nots,” the high drop-out rate in competitive sports, and the growing mental health challenges young athletes are dealing with today.
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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.
Episode #23 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Olympian Benita Fitzgerald Mosley Talks Title IX, Youth Sports and the Olympics.
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.
- League of Fans Sports Policy Director Ken Reed quoted in Washington Post column titled "What happened to P.E.? It’s losing ground in our push for academic improvement," by Jay Mathews
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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