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 #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.
Follow on Facebook: @SportsForumPodcast
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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