League of Fans

Founded by Ralph Nader, League of Fans is a sports reform project working to improve sports by increasing awareness of the sports industry's relationship to society, exposing irresponsible business practices, ensuring accountability to fans, and encouraging the industry to contribute to societal well-being.

Email Alerts

Alerts is League of Fans' email announcements list. Alerts provides news, information, the actions of League of Fans and/or Ralph Nader regarding sports issues, and calls-to-action for subscribers. All email updates are either selected or written by League of Fans.


League of Fans is motivated by people, just like you, who are upset with what has become of our sports and would like to make a difference. We work with concerned citizens, sports fans, civic groups and communities to increase awareness of the sports industry's relationship to society, influence a broad range of issues in sports at all levels and encourage the cooperative capacities that make the "sports powers-that-be" capable of helping, not just dominating, our society and culture.

News / Resources

We often think of sports as outside the realm of everyday citizen concern. But the many benefits to society that sports can provide are sometimes undermined by a different set of values, often based on the quest for higher and higher profits at the expense of fans, taxpayers, communities, culture and social justice.

Your Role

Get Involved! Your involvement will improve sports for communities and fans, and encourage the sports industry to better contribute to societal well-being.


League of Fans - October 7, 2003
1. Sportswriter comes out
2. Nike unscathed in sweatshop case
3. MLB and the Dominican Republic
4. Redskins and racism


Sportswriter comes out

It's a tough environment in the macho sports world for anyone who happens to be gay. But last week, Boston Herald sportswriter Ed Gray wrote a column appearing on the front page of the sports section declaring that he is gay.

Coming out shouldn't have to be such a big deal, but we all know it is, especially in sports. As Gray wrote in his column, "The gay community is the one minority that is still very much fair game for overt displays of prejudice in the world of sports. While inroads toward achieving equality are slowly being made in the real world, a gay man is still expected to bear the burden of shame in the sports world."

Out and proud
By Ed Gray - Boston Herald - September 30, 2003
..."I'm out because I no longer, in good conscience, choose to ignore the unabashed homophobia that is so cavalierly tolerated within the world of sports. I'm out, because the silence of a closeted gay man only serves to give his implicit approval to bigotry. I'm out, because I refuse to continue hiding from the truth that an openly gay man has as much right as a straight man to play sports or report on them."...

Boston Herald's Ed Gray Says Time Was Right
Outsports.com - September 30, 2003
..."In the column, Gray takes on the contention that openly gay people can't function in the macho sports world. He writes: 'In the cases of both a gay athlete and a gay sportswriter, homophobic athletes always come up with the same sorry excuse to justify the perpetuation of prejudice on the basis of sexual orientation -- the locker room.'"...

* Take Action! *

1) Write to Ed Gray and show your support and encouragement:

Ed Gray
Boston Herald
P.O. Box 2096
Boston, MA 02106

2) Contact your favorite major pro sports teams and urge them to reach out to the gay community as a few are beginning to do:

Contact info for MLB, NBA, NFL and NHL franchises

Texas Rangers to hold Gay Day
Dallas Voice - September 10, 2003
"If gay community leaders meet their goal, a human gay pride flag will be seen in the stands of the Ballpark in Arlington on Sept. 14 when the Rangers host the Oakland A's. Gay Day at the Ballpark will be the first time a major professional athletic team has reached out to the gay community and offered to help organize such an event."...

3) Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper on the story and encourage dialog in your community on homophobia in sports.

4) Visit League of Fans' "Sports and the Gay Community" page for more information and resources on homophobia in sports.



Nike unscathed in sweatshop case

Kasky v. Nike, a lawsuit that began with a false advertising claim and went on to become a U.S. Supreme Court case that explored a corporation's claim to a constitutional right to lie, has concluded with a settlement.

While the outcome is in some ways a victory for labor rights, the settlement stipulates that Nike pay $1.5 million (pocket change for a company with $10.7 billion in annual sales) to the Fair Labor Association (FLA). FLA is a factory monitor controlled by the apparel industry, including Nike. That small settlement should have at least gone straight to the workers or to an independent monitoring organization such as the Worker Rights Consortium (http://www.workersrights.org/).

Foot Fault
The American Prospect - September 23, 2003
"The media portrayed Nike's recent out-of-court settlement in a sweatshop case as a victory for human rights and a defeat for free speech. They got it wrong."...

Nike settles suit for $1.5 million - Shoe giant accused of lying about workers' treatment
San Francisco Chronicle - September 13, 2003
..."Jeff Ballinger, founder of a worker and consumer advocacy group called Press for Change, said the [Fair Labor Association] is 'totally in the pocket of business.' Rather than going to that group, he said, the settlement money should have gone to workers paid starvation wages in overseas factories. Ballinger is a former director of an AFL-CIO office in Indonesia and author of critical reports on Nike labor practices in the early 1990s."...

* Take Action! *

1) James Nussbaumer, a student at the University of Southern California suggested the following course of action:

"Anyone who would like to voice concerns regarding the paltry settlement that was recently announced in the Kasky v. Nike lawsuit may contact the lawyers below. This case went all the way to the Supreme Court which, surprisingly, allowed the case to go to trial in California. Most activists had expected and hoped for this to happen as the discovery process would most likely have proved very embarrassing to Nike. Instead, a $1.5 million settlement has been announced that will go -- not to workers -- but to the Fair Labor Association.

Law Office of Bushnell, Caplan and Fielding LLP
(415) 217-3800
[email protected]
You can ask for: Paul Hoeber, Alan Caplan, Philip Neumark, or Roderick Bushnell


Milberg, Weiss, Bershad, Hynes and Lerach, LLP
You can ask for: Patrick Coughlin, Al Meyerhoff, William Lerach, Frank Janecek or Patrick Daniels.

2) Write a letter to a major pro sports star who has or will have a contract to endorse a shoe/apparel company known to use sweatshop labor and urge them to use their celebrity to effect changes in company policies toward labor.

Here is the April, 2003 letter Ralph Nader and League of Fans sent to LeBron James requesting that he push for anti-sweatshop provisions in shoe contract.

3) Contact the company that makes the sporting goods and apparel you buy and request information explaining under what working conditions those items are made.

4) Visit League of Fans' "Sweatshops and Labor Rights" page for resources on sweatshops.



MLB and the Dominican Republic

It looks like Major League Baseball is finally beginning to take steps to address the extensive exploitation of young players by agents (buscones) in the Dominican Republic. From reports of cheating young players out of money, to pushing the use of performance-enhancing supplements and steroids designed for animals to get an edge, its time for Baseball to do what it can to regulate these reckless agents.

MLB Looks To Regulate Dominican Agents
Washington Post - September 17, 2003
"For the first time, Major League Baseball and authorities in the Dominican Republic are exploring ways to regulate street agents whose soaring growth has led to a variety of abuses in the largest market for players outside the United States."...

MLB Plans To Drug Test In Latin America
Washington Post - September 3, 2003
"Major League Baseball plans to implement random drug testing for hundreds of signed players in Latin America next season following reports that many prospects in the Dominican Republic inject cheap veterinary substances to boost performance, a high-ranking baseball official said yesterday."...

Washington Post's past reports on the abuses in the Dominican Republic:

Many Dominican prospects are turning to supplements designed for animals for an edge. (June 22, 2003)

Baseball does little to regulate the system of recruiting players in Latin America. (Oct. 26, 2001)

In the baseball- mad Dominican, "buscones" often train players from puberty for a shot at the majors. Some, though, have cheated players out of thousands of dollars. (June 17, 2001)

* Take Action! *

1) Write to Major League Baseball and tell them you support the regulation of the "buscones" that continue to exploit young Dominican players.

Allan H. (Bud) Selig
245 Park Ave.
New York, NY 10167

tel (212) 931-7800
fax (212) 949-8636

2) Tell Major League Baseball and the Player's Union to get steroids and other dangerous performance-enhancing supplements out of their league. Supplement companies are changing the culture of sports, and creating a public health menace all the way down to the junior high athletes who easily purchase and fill their lockers with unregulated supplements and performance-enhancers so they can be like the pros.

Allan H. (Bud) Selig
Commissioner, Major League Baseball
245 Park Ave.
New York, NY 10167

tel (212) 931-7800
fax (212) 949-8636

Donald M. Fehr
Director, Major League Baseball Players Association
12 E. 49th St., 24th Fl.
New York, NY 10017

tel (212) 826-0808
fax (212) 752-4378

3) Visit League of Fans' "Performance-Enhancing Drugs" page for more information on the use of steroids and performance-enhancing supplements in sports.

Also see:
Ralph Nader and League of Fans urge leaders to take real action against ephedra and dietary supplement law (3/11/03)



Redskins and racism

The Washington Redskins have won their appeal of a 1999 ruling that revoked the franchise's federal trademark protection for their racist team name.

Judge: Insufficient evidence name is offensive
Associated Press - October 1, 2003
..."If the team had lost, it could have been stripped of the exclusive rights to market the Redskins name and sell team merchandise worth millions. Harjo has said she hoped a victory might lead Snyder to change the team's name. He had pledged not to regardless of the outcome.... The lawsuit began in 1992 when Harjo asked the trademark office to cancel six Redskin trademarks under the federal Lanham Act, which prohibits registering names if they are "disparaging, scandalous, contemptuous or disreputable." The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board agreed to cancel the trademark. Its decision did not take effect pending appeal."...

* Take Action! *

1) Write a letter to franchise owner Dan Snyder asking him to show Native Americans the respect and dignity they deserve by dropping the "Redskins" nickname that has supported and maintained stereotypes of a race of people for too long.

Daniel M. Snyder
Owner and CEO
Washington Redskins
21300 Redskins Park Dr.
Ashburn, VA 20147

tel (703) 726-7000
fax (703) 726-7086

2) Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper on the topic of racist team names and images and encourage dialog in your community on the issue.

3) Visit League of Fans' "Race and Sports" page for more information and resources on Racism in sports.

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GOOD SPORTS / BAD SPORTS is an email bulletin of recent news items and suggested actions regarding issues in the world of sports. It goes out regularly to League of Fans "Alerts" listserv subscribers.

Help spread the word! Send copies of this message to your friends and join the growing movement of people who are fed up with what the sports industry has become and want to do something about it. If you would like to add yourself to the "Alerts" list, sign up at alerts_signup.html.

Founded by Ralph Nader, the mission of League of Fans is to improve sports by working as a sports industry watchdog to increase awareness of the industry's relationship to society, expose irresponsible business practices, ensure accountability to fans, and encourage the sports industry to contribute to societal well-being.

To find out more about League of Fans, visit www.leagueoffans.org or write to [email protected].