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 #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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