By Ken Reed
Young tennis star Coco Gauff ended the interview following her semifinal victory at the French Open with a message about the epidemic of gun violence and school shootings in America.
“Peace,” wrote Gauff on a camera lens. “End gun violence.”
“I think now athletes are more, I feel like more fine with speaking out about stuff like this,” she said later.
“I feel like a lot of times we’re put in a box that people always say, ‘Oh, sports and politics should stay separate and all this.’ But just in general, I think that I’m a human first. So, of course, I’m going to care about these issues and speak out about these issues.
“I think if anything, sports gives you the platform to maybe make that message reach more people.”
Some sports fans get angry if sports figures talk about anything besides their particular sport, especially those who agree with Fox News’ Laura Ingraham who said of LeBron James, “Shut up and dribble” when James was speaking out on social justice issues.
That’s silly. Why should athletes be the only citizens who can’t share their opinions on socio-cultural issues?
As sports and culture writer Craig Calcaterra says:
“Say that fan is an accountant. How would they feel if someone walked up to them and said ‘I don’t want to hear anything from you except accounting. And if you start talking about what you read today or what you’re thinking about the world I find it illegitimate.’
“We would never do that to a person. I think it’s crazy that we do that with sports. You don’t have to like it. You don’t have to agree with them. You don’t have to engage it. But to tell someone that they can’t have an opinion on something because they are an athlete and all we value them for is their ability to dribble, or to hit or to throw, I find that to be a completely illegitimate position.”
Sure, Coco Gauff and Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr aren’t experts on gun violence, mass shootings or gun safety, but if they can use their sports platforms to bring greater awareness to a terrible problem, I’m all for it.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
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.” We discuss overzealous adults in youth sports, the dangers of sport specialization, youth sports entrepreneurs and the profit-at-all-costs mindset, and the growing socio-economic gap in youth sports.
Follow on Facebook: @SportsForumPodcast
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.
Episode #22 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Rethinking Sports Fandom with Author Craig Calcaterra – We discuss Calcaterra’s new book “Rethinking Fandom: How to Beat the Sports-Industrial Complex at Its Own Game” and explore new ways to be a fan.
Episode #21 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Chatting About a Broken Game With Baseball Writer Pedro Moura – Moura is a national baseball writer for Fox Sports. We discuss how and why the game of baseball is broken, what factors caused it, and offer a few thoughts on how to “fix” a great game.
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.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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