By Ken Reed
My primary mission at League of Fans is to write about contemporary sports issues, and to try to find ways in which the world of sports could be better for all its stakeholders.
But my favorite part of this gig is finding little nuggets, stories that I call “Sport At Its Best.” These stories exemplify the human spirit and feed the soul.
Here’s one that’s a couple months old but that I just recently came across. I love this:
It’s a story about two Eastern Michigan football players, Zack Conti and Brian Dooley.
Conti came into this season as a walk-on player. He didn’t have a football scholarship like the vast majority of his teammates. His family was struggling financially and his mom was dealing with health challenges and needed a kidney donor. As such, Conti needed to work multiple jobs in addition to his school work and football responsibilities. He made the necessary sacrifices, including giving up a lot of sleep time, all because he loved football so much. He worked a landscaping job, ripped out carpets and demo’d tile floors. He also donated his plasma for money in order to help pay his bills.
Brian Dooley, a fellow offensive lineman saw all this and wanted to do something to help Conti. Dooley is a graduate student in his final year of eligibility at Eastern Michigan. When he heard Conti was thinking about quitting the football team due to the issues he was dealing with, Dooley had an idea: Maybe I can give Conti my scholarship. He talked to his parents about it, told them Conti deserved it, and they said they were on board with the idea. He then talked to his football coach at Eastern Michigan, Chris Creighton, and though shocked at Dooley’s generosity, he confirmed it was possible to do the scholarship switch. He too was on board with the idea.
So, during a team meeting, Creighton told his players what Dooley wanted to do. He said he’d never seen anything like Dooley’s selfless offer before. And then Dooley got out of his chair and walked over to Conti and gave him an envelope. The envelope had Conti’s new scholarship inside. When that happened, the rest of Conti’s teammates came over and gave him hugs, cheers and pats on the back.
Sacrificing for a teammate. Beautiful stuff. A very cool moment, to say the least.
— 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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