K.C. Royals help players fight pornography

MARY REICHARD, HOST: It’s The World and Everything in It from member-supported WORLD Radio. Today is Thursday, March 29th. Good morning, I’m Mary Reichard.

NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. Well, as you just heard, today is baseball’s Opening Day.

That typically signals a time for new beginnings. But for the Kansas City Royals, it means a new beginning of a different kind.

REICHARD: The Royals organization became—as far as we can tell—the first pro sports team to hold a talk with players on the dangers of pornography.

EICHER: You may find it interesting: Sports Illustrated called the move “bizarre and troubling.”

And you might be able to understand SI’s point of view, given the special issue the magazine publishes each year …

REICHARD: Yep. The Swimsuit Issue.

EICHER: Yes, so stands to reason the editors would find it troubling. But we do not.

Sarah Schweinsberg is here now with a story of bold leadership in pro sports.

SARAH SCHWEINSBERG, REPORTER: It all started last August when Kansas City Royals pitcher Danny Duffy was charged with a DUI. At a press conference following the incident, Duffy apologized.

After Duffy left the stage, reporters asked Royals General Manager Dayton Moore what educational and leadership training the club provides for players. Moore took the conversation in a surprising direction.

AUDIO: We’ve done a lot of leadership stuff with our players… very transparent about things that happen in our game not only with drugs and alcohol. We talk about pornography and the effects and what that does to the minds of players and the distractions and how that leads to abuse of domestic abuse, the abuse of women, how it impacts relationships, I mean we talk about a lot of things. And I don’t mind sharing them with you. 

Moore’s comments not only surprised the baseball community. They surprised Clay Olson, the president of Fight the New Drug, a secular anti-pornography organization.

AUDIO: We heard that and we thought, oh my goodness, that’s so incredible.

Fight the New Drug or FTND was so excited about Moore’s comments they made a social media post about him. A few days later, Dayton Moore, an outspoken Christian, called Clay Olson—President of Fight the New Drug.

AUDIO: He reached out and said, hey, uh, I want to understand what you do more, the issue better than I currently do.

Later, the Royals invited FTND to speak at their March spring training seminar. So earlier this month, Clay Olson spoke for one hour to mostly minor league players seated in two rows of folding chairs.

He talked about the research surrounding porn. Like the fact that an addiction to porn negatively affects relationships, marriages, and the mind—not unlike a drug addiction.

Olson says from his perspective the message was well-received.

AUDIO: The players were incredibly respectful throughout the entire presentation. And then after the presentation, in almost in single file, they all came up and shook hands and several kind of waited in the wings and actually opened up about their own struggle with this.

That’s why at a separate session with Royals coaches and staff, Fight the New Drug discussed how to help hold players accountable, while also ensuring that a porn problem wouldn’t hurt their standing on the team.

Olson says professional athletes face a unique set of circumstances that can make pornography and other harmful behaviors especially tempting.

AUDIO: They are in a high stress profession and with very high competition, they are on the road or away from, you know, their normal perhaps normal routines of life at home. And, they are also a part of demographic that has a lot of status as a celebrity.

The Royals may be the first to make an institutional stand against pornography, but may not be the last. Olson wouldn’t name names, but he says other organizations have expressed interest in having similar conversations with their teams.

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Sarah Schweinsberg.

(John Sleezer/The Kansas City Star via AP) The Chicago White Sox take batting practice during a baseball workout, Wednesday, March 28, 2018, at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo. The White Sox face the Kansas City Royals on opening day Thursday.

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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