Sport & Society

January 12, 2018

As sports continues to serve as an important venue for spotlighting societal issues, Vanderbilt University Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos has unveiled plans for a new academic center to explore the intersection of sports, race, gender and culture in society.

The Center for Sports and Society will support research, teaching and scholarship in conjunction with the university’s focus on trans-institutional initiatives, including an initial emphasis on activism. It is intended to serve as a catalyst and a resource to make a more just and fair society, using sports as a vehicle for change.Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos (Vanderbilt University)

Zeppos announced the university’s plans at an event held at the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 10. The event was part of Vanderbilt’s commemoration this academic year of the 50th anniversary of the integration of the Southeastern Conference and Vanderbilt’s Varsity Athletics by Vanderbilt alumni Perry Wallace and Godfrey Dillard.

“Few activities capture popular attention like sports, where our society’s greatest successes and deepest failures play out. Perry’s and Godfrey’s stories underscore this, and truly showcase the role that universities—for better and for worse—play in the fight for equality. At Vanderbilt, we’ve come a long way in nurturing our increasingly diverse and vibrant community,” Zeppos said.

“But like our nation, we still have a long way to go. Universities have a critical role and mandate to study, to chronicle, and to shine a light on the great issues of our day,” he said. “Given our history, Vanderbilt is uniquely positioned to be a convener for important conversations and study around the difficult issues at the intersection of sports and society.”

A panel discussion on the intersection of activism, race and sports and a tour of the museum anchored the event. Rosalyn Durant, senior vice president of college networks at ESPN; Harry Edwards, professor emeritus of sociology at the University of California, Berkley; William Rhoden, sports columnist and author for The Undefeated and ESPN; and Damion Thomas, curator of sports for the museum, participated in the panel discussion moderated by David Williams, Vanderbilt’s vice chancellor for athletics and university affairs and athletics director.

“The event is an example of the types of programming that the center will sponsor to elevate awareness and understanding and promote progress. The world of sports provides a unique platform from which to study many of the most timely and important issues in American culture,” Williams said.Vice Chancellor for Athletics and University Affairs and Athletics Director David Williams (Vanderbilt University)

“The sports world has both reflected cultural norms—decades of segregated baseball leagues for example—and advanced the cause of civil rights ahead of other institutions,” Williams said. “Jesse Owens competed in the Olympics in Berlin in 1936 and Jackie Robinson broke Major League’s Baseball’s color barrier in 1947—well ahead of Brown v. Board of Education, Rosa Parks sitting at the front of a bus in Montgomery, or the march from Selma. In the 1960s, African American athletes took activism to another level, and today’s athletes, particularly African Americans and women, continue to use their platforms to stimulate public discussion on many of the most pressing and controversial issues of our time.”

Guests also previewed the documentary film Triumph: The Untold Story of Perry Wallace, which chronicles Wallace’s and Dillard’s experiences as pioneering African American students and athletes. Wallace became the first African American to play varsity basketball in the SEC, playing at Vanderbilt’s Memorial Gym on Dec. 2, 1967. Wallace, who had been battling cancer, passed away on Dec. 1, 2017—the eve of the 50th anniversary of that historic game.

From New World Of Coaching
Throughout the course of a season, a team will often go through a number of stages before, hopefully, fully meshing into a strong, high-performing unit. In order to help guide your team to this ultimate goal, it’s important to know how to recognize the different stages of development.
SEARCH for Products
SEARCH for Vendors

Make Your Lockers Look Like New

There’s few facility projects that can match the excitement of a new locker room. Everything looks perfect, works the ways it should, and the athletes look forward to spending time there. Over time, though, the luster of a new locker room can wear off. Fortunately, you can get lockers looking like new again by touching …

Find the Bag You Need

Bushwalker Bags from Diversa Products Groups is best known for the line of athletic training bags. But they also have several other bags that can make life easier on the road. For example, they offer a portable table bag with a padded cover and reinforced handles that will protect portable treatment tables. They also offer …

NBA Strength Coach Utilizes VersaClimber

VersaClimber equipment provides athletes with a challenging, effective, total-body workout. “I have been using the VersaClimber with my athletes for over 10 years with outstanding results,” writes Stan Kellers, Assistant Coach of Strength for the Cleveland Cavaliers. “Recently I have developed some very unique routines combining the climber with other movements in a circuit based …

Functional Carts for Sports Medicine Professionals

RhinoMedCarts allow athletic trainers and sports medicine professionals to keep all their supplies in a compact, mobile storage unit. “Toole & Associates Physical Therapy and Wellness Clinic has used the RhinoMedCart for over a year both in our clinic and on the field for football games,” said Doug Toole, Physical Therapist and former NFL Official. …

MostFit Resistance Loops Compliment Exercise

MostFit Resistance Loops are meant to help athletes build strength and align their body. These can be utilized for physical therapy, Pilates, yoga, and to compliment any type of exercise routine. To learn more about MostFit’s Resistance Loops, click here.

Stay at the Top of Your Game!
Receive articles like this by signing up for our newsletters